Jerry wrote this article a few years ago. Time passes quickly but – if we are fortunate – our memories stay with us. ~ HfH
By Jerry Finch, President of Habitat for Horses
Seven years ago today a wise and wonderful gentleman passed away. In his memory, I’d like to share with you what I wrote about Bucky. He lived his final days in Stall Three at our ICU barn. He still lives in my heart.
————————————————It had to end someday. I didn’t want it to. I wanted to perform a miracle and watch Bucky bounce around the pasture like a colt, watch him snort and run, munch grass and kick up his heals and be a healthy, young horse all over again.
Bucky’s been at the ICU barn for years. He was donated when a bar closed down and no one was left to feed him beer and pretzels. Even then, his feet were in terrible condition, but he came to rest and to spend his remaining days safe from other, more aggressive horses. He couldn’t run or kick, so he had no way to protect himself. Still a stud, he was too old for an operation.
He made his home in stall three, spent his nights in the pasture, fell in love with Nichol and visited her across the fence while a wide variety of geldings protested. FromHarveyto Scooby to Peanut, they tried to protect her from Bucky’s snorting, and they did with the help of a six-foot fence.
His days were spent feeling the love of the barn mom, a volunteer named Cheryl, and receiving thousands of cookies from her tender hands. She cleaned his stall, filled his water bucket and hay rack, sang songs, and spent countless hours grooming his failing body.
As the long days passed, he spent more time sleeping than awake. Sleep kept him off his feet, the source of increasing pain. The last few months were extremely hard on him. There were times he couldn’t get up without our help, days when he’d only rise to eat, then go back down again, there to sleep for hours on end. He was in pain and no amount of medication, no quantity of love, no grooming, no hugs, no tears would remove the pain from his body.
I knew it was time. Gentle talks with Cheryl finally allowed her to see that the tomorrows of Bucky’s life only meant more pain and that he needed to be set free. I needed her to understand, for she was his mom. I needed others to understand, but most of all, I needed to understand myself.
I took him to the ranch this afternoon, turned him loose in the front pasture while no other horses were around. He tried to eat some grass, wandered over to the fence and visited with Pete for a moment. Although Bucky wandered off, Pete stayed at the fence watching. Zone came running over to challenge the stud. One loud snort from Bucky sent Zone running back to the herd. Other horses came to check him out, probably sent by Zone. He challenged them and I had to walk him away from the fence.
At 1:30 this afternoon, Bucky faded gently into an eternal sleep. His body is buried close to Harvey and Scooby, under a small tree near the front. His soul is flying somewhere far away, carrying a little piece of my heart.
They live so boldly yet die so gently in our arms. I don’t know how many I’ve held now; far, far too many. Over each one I’ve said a prayer, on each one my tears have fallen, and each one has taken a little piece of my heart with them.
Tonight, Bucky’s stall is empty for the first time in years. I have a feeling it won’t be for long. Another great horse will step into our lives. Another perfect horse will get cookies from the barn mom, will listen to the radio, will be fed three times a day, will have endless hay and good friends and more love than they can handle.
But tonight a memory lives there, a memory of a great horse that blessed our lives with his presence.
Goodbye, Bucky. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life.