By Mary Mulcahy
This article received an honorable mention in the 2018 GMO Newsletter Award in First-Person Experience for GMOs with fewer than 75 members. It first appeared in the March 2018 “The *LIDA Extension” Newsletter *Long Island Dressage Association
Our LIDA President shares with us the story of how tragic losses she recently experienced led to the exciting and unexpected purchase of an amazing new horse. Such as with life, oftentimes our saddest moments help lead us to some of our happiest. This year, Mary experienced that phenomenon ﬁrst hand. Mary is pictured at left riding her new dressage partner, Fesvo RS aka Brado. We hope to see a lot of Mary and Brado in the future!
The last couple of years have brought about some very serious changes at my barn. First I lost my best teacher, Raposo, to laminitis the summer of 2015. It was heartbreaking, like the loss of any beloved pet, but I carried on. I still had my stallion, Que Pe, and my show buddy, Alectas, aka Ace. Besides my boys, I had two retired mares; Penny Arcade, show pony extraordinaire, and my old hunt horse, Katie. Both girls were old. Kate had experienced some strokes the last few years but she was hanging in there.
I had decided that before the winter of 2016 kicked in I would say goodbye to Kate. She was 30 years old and the cold and ice took a lot out of her. I was contemplating how Penny would be without her friend. Then one day I walked into the barn and found Penny dead. From what we could tell she had a heart attack. Kate was stoic about her loss and my dear Acey kept her company for another month before she joined Penny across the Rainbow Bridge. I wasn’t expecting Penny to go but what happened next really knocked me for a loop.
It turned out that the winter of 2016 was quite mild. I was able to ride most of the winter. In early April I had had my horses’ feet trimmed and Ace came up a little ouchy. I figured he was trimmed a little close so I waited about a week but there was no change. I called the vet. Ace was foundering. Probably had been since January, which was really odd since he had been totally sound right through the winter. He had his DMSO treatments and icing. Heartbar shoes were put on. He rebounded quite well. I felt pretty good. We caught it in time. But then he started to deteriorate. We tried everything. He was on all the various meds and supplemental support given in these cases. He tried very hard to be okay, but to no avail. Then in July I heard those awful words, “You have to put him down.”
I’m 62. I’ve been practicing dressage for about twenty years. Ace and I were supposed to go all the way together. I bought him when he was four. We were working on 4th Level and doing great! Not only did I lose a best friend, I also lost the rest of my riding career. I was distraught. I decided that was it. I’m too old anyway, I might as well hang it up. I can finish my life gardening and painting and trail riding Que Pe. I couldn’t open myself up to losing another beloved animal in my life. I kept repeating this. It was my old lady mantra.
Then one day while perusing Facebook I saw a post from a friend who was selling her beautiful Andalusian stallion. She got him when he was three. He was her baby. I knew this was hard for her. I tagged a friend of mine who was looking for horses. But Festivo RS was calling me. What was I thinking? This horse is perfect for me! I know him and his owner. He’s trained to Grand Prix. He’s gorgeous. I thought no further. Immediately, I contacted my friend, Emily Copeland, and made arrangements to go to Tryon, North Carolina to try him out. He had grown quite a bit since I first met him which was a bit of a surprise. I tend to like my horses on the smaller size since I’m short in stature. He was a dream to ride! I rode him twice and was sold. A month later Festivo RS arrived at my barn.
I’m learning a lot with Festivo aka Brado. Every time I ride him I have a big smile on my face. I don’t know how to explain it but I feel in my heart that Brado was brought to me by Ace. He knew I wasn’t done yet. I think of Ace every day and am thankful for our time together. Now I can continue my journey with this wonderful horse, Brado. My goal with Ace was to ride 4th Level at Devon. Now I will! Brado is a consummate professional and a joy to ride. I’m so excited about what the future holds! Gardening and painting are just going to have to wait.