Saying good-bye to my pony

I said good-bye to my pony last week—a task I had been procrastinating about for months, maybe even a year.
Just a few weeks ago, we were commenting on Forewarned’s rotund belly and sleek coat, and wondering if he might be able to do another winter (because winters are very hard for him at his age).
He must have heard us and took matters into his own hands, or hooves if you prefer. Long story short, Forewarned has been laid to rest to the right of the garden, just next to Stinky, Samantha’s cat who left us last August.
I’ve owned Ardmore Forewarned since 1999 when I began breeding Welsh ponies. He was a handsome fellow, with a big white blaze, one near white hind foot, and a lovely red bay body.
Forewarned had enough heavy, long mane for six ponies and he was a pony of good bone, a substantial frame, and he passed his strength and gentle nature on to all his progeny.
He stood at 13.2 hands and had an innocence about him that translated to trust issues. But he trusted me and he trusted my daughters, always, without hesitation.
He was wary of men, his uncertainty at times leading to panic, but he grew to trust David and they became friends; relied on one another as family is inclined to do.
I never could quite believe that Forewarned was mine and my dream had really come true.
Forewarned’s absence has left me a bit confused; off my game. The paddock gate is ajar and his stall door remains open, as if waiting for his return.
I keep listening for his cheerful whinny in the morning when I open the back door of the house; his whinny letting me know he was ready for his breakfast and a friendly chat.
I keep watching for him in the yard, my living lawn ornament who wandered around the trees and garden—finding one fabulous clover patch after another—but never leaving the yard (well, not often anyway) while inciting the joy of all the neighbours who dropped by on a regular basis to share apples and carrots at Forewarned’s paddock fence.
Although his death was sudden despite being imminent, my grief was raw. I am reminded of the importance of sharing this last leg of the journey with those we love.
I was honoured to comfort Forewarned; to push his heavy forelock and mane off his face, my voice easing his panic over not being able to stand, holding his head while the vet administered the necessary dose to end Forewarned’s suffering and set him free.
I felt something go out of me to travel with Forewarned; something I can’t replace because it really is the end of an era for me. Forewarned was the last pony in a lifetime of ponies.
And he was practically perfect—the most gentle Welsh stallion I have ever met and he was mine.
We seem willing and eager to bring a new life into this world, to gather around in anticipation, be it a pony or a baby. But we sometimes pass the ball when it is our turn in seeing a life to its end; to giving our very best understanding and promising to remember.
I am comforted that I climbed into the deep hole dug by the neighbour’s backhoe and positioned Forewarned just right—his head resting into his chest, his feet tucked up below him as if he was readying to fly.
I rubbed his tiny perfect Welsh ears one last time before climbing out of the hole.
And though I had a hefty sob on the go, I bid my pony farewell and was very, very grateful our paths crossed.