A horse died today. His name was Pendragon.
Late this morning, a beautiful Southern California Sunday morning, as my friend Susan turned for home along the trail that runs around the outside of Martinez Arena, her Warm Blood gelding Pendragon suddenly stumbled under her and went down. He suffered a massive heart attack and was gone in seconds.
A CHP patrol officer was first on the scene, followed quickly by Park Rangers. Susan asked them to contact us and we arrived minutes later.
We sat in the dirt on the trail, around Pen's massive body, and we held him and ran our hands over his furry black winter coat and cried together. Park Rangers redirected horse traffic and stood vigil with us.
One horsewoman tied her horse and came over with words of comfort and water. She held Susan while she cried and we knew she understood what it is to lose someone we love so much.
A passing motorcyclist parked his bike and climbed the fence to stand with us and express his sympathy.
Friends from Circle K walked over to see if they could help.
And Susan told us how Pen was just 1 week shy of his 25th birthday. She had first seen him on an ultrasound all those years ago. She had raised him, trained him, loved him and ridden him. He had been her companion, her solace, her great love these many years. He had seen her through good times and bad.
When it was time to say her final good bye, we cut his tail and she held it in her hands and cried. There is comfort in knowing that his life was good because of Susan and in knowing that his passing was the kind many of us hope for, unexpected and mercifully quick, and that she was there with him at the end as she had been with him throughout his life. So we celebrate his life and mourn his passing and take joy in the horses in our life, the ones that we've lost and never forgotten and the ones that are with us still.