Pet Stories: In Your Own Words
Stormy and Breezy
Here's my story about Stormy and Breezy. By the way, they came with those names and I'm a weather fanatic...go figure.
A wonderful, older horse, Breezy was 15 years young when I got her, calm and quiet and the perfect companion on our long trail rides. She was my best friend and companion and we took long trail rides anywhere that allowed horses. Breezy loved getting out of her neighborhood and exploring the woods as much as I did. We even found trails that led through the local college and rode them until a subdivision was built and we could no longer access the area. Civilization was always in the way of a good ride!
During Breezy's 19th and 20th years, she had been diagnosed with a form of skin cancer, common to Appaloosa's. We made 5 separate trips to the University of Florida in Gainesville for her surgeries and finally the skin lesion seemed to be completely gone. Then, after all of that was over, she sustained a severe leg injury—a bowed tendon.
With expert vet care and diligent care on my part, four months passed and Breezy's leg was not healing. At the same time, we noticed a lesion growing on the white of Breezy's eye. The cancer had spread internally. The vet said the cancer was most likely keeping the damaged tendon from healing. The heart-breaking decision was made and Breezy was euthanized on Feb. 24, 1996. It was the darkest day in my life. It haunts me still today. But, after she was gone, I felt a sense of relief. My sweet Breezy was no longer in pain; her cancer would not hurt her any more. She was free of her Earthly problems.
One of Breezy's best buddies in life was my other horse Stormy, also an Appaloosa. I had gotten Stormy when two friends of mine divorced and they entrusted me with their beloved Stormy. She was also 15 when she came to live with me. Stormy was a truly great mare. Anyone could ride her, she loved kids and, over the years, she taught over 100 people all about horses and how to ride. She was one of my most reliable lesson horses and she was the one I would ride when I wanted a little peace and quiet out on the trails. Stormy and I were truly partners in life. After Breezy left us, Stormy became my rock.... I had other horses that I loved just as much, but Stormy was special. She had a very "old soul" and could comfort a person just by being in their space. She was my personal therapist.
During our years together, Stormy suffered three different leg injuries, on three separate legs, that were common to older horses with her conformation. She had a long body and short legs which made her legs prone to weakness over the years. She never was ridden or worked very hard and always had an easy life, but Mother Nature had built her in a less than perfect way and over time, it took its toll.
At age 24, six years after Breezy passed from this life, Stormy injured her last good leg. It was a cool day in November, right before Thanksgiving and the horses were running in the pasture, enjoying a cool day in Florida, which was rare this time of year. Stormy was in a separate pasture, because the younger horses would pick on her if she was with them. But, on that day, my old Stormy decided it would be fun to run along the fence line with the other horses.
I had a sudden flashback to a scene in "Gone With The Wind," where Scarlett sees her daughter, Bonnie, galloping towards a jump. Scarlett and Rhett yell across the field for Bonnie not to jump, but she does it anyway. At that instant, Scarlett remembers her father doing the same thing; Bonnie jumps the jump and falls to her death, just like Scarlett's father had done so many years before.
I remember feeling like Scarlett O'Hara at that moment. I saw Stormy take just a few steps at a run, I yelled across the field for her to "whoa, Stormy!!!", because I knew she should not be running on her sore, old legs. At that moment, I saw her pull up to a quick stop and she picked up her hind leg in agony. I ran out to Stormy and I could feel the badly bowed tendon and instant heat in the area. I knew this was the end of Stormy, because when a horse looses the use of its legs or feet, it can no longer "be" a horse any more. I called my vet and told her to bring "the shot." I told her what happened and she rushed to my farm.
Being the optimistic vet that she is, Dr. Janis advised me to give Stormy a fighting chance. We would treat this terrible injury like we had treated her other leg injuries in the past. Stormy had recovered from the other injuries, maybe she could make it through this one, too. When I say she had recovered from the other injuries, she was able to walk, but not be ridden. With old bowed tendons on three legs from previous years, her old legs had become weak from all the wear-and-tear so I retired her from her riding years the previous year.
After two weeks of anti-inflammatory drugs, leg wrapping, stall rest and all the other things we do for a bowed tendon, Stormy had gone downhill instead of improving. It was breaking my heart, but she had quit eating and was lying down for hours at a time, which for a horse, is a sure signal that the end is near. I could not stand another minute of seeing my partner suffer, so the vet and I agreed that it was time to end the suffering. Stormy had lived a full life. She was loved and adored by all of her former students and every one of them shed a tear when they learned of her passing. My dear old Stormy left us on Dec. 4, 2002, around 1:30pm.
The next day, around lunch time, I was compiling a photo album of just Stormy. I wanted to dedicate an entire album to my most special partner. I was sitting in my living room, with both sliding glass doors open to let in the wonderful cool Florida fall air. It was difficult sifting through all the pictures and hard to look at them through the tears. But it was a labor of love that I needed to do for myself.
After Breezy had died years earlier, I placed her wooden stall sign with her name engraved on it on top of a shelf in my living room. It leaned against the wall on the top shelf, so when Stormy died, I did the same thing with her name plate. It was placed on the shelf next to Breezy's. When I looked up at the shelf and saw their nameplates next to each other, I was relieved that they were again together, but heartbroken that I would not see them again in this lifetime.
While I was sorting through the photographs and enjoying old memories, a very strong wind swept through the open doors and blew only Breezy's sign off of the shelf. That sign had been up there for six years and never moved before, even when wind was blowing through the room, but on this day, at this time, just 24 hours after Stormy's death, it happened.
The wind blew the sign off the shelf and it crashed to the floor, and there was an instant chill that shot through my body, from head to toe. I intinctively jumped off the couch and yelled Breezy's name. I started shaking all over and crying and laughing at the same time. The wind that swept through my living room was Breezy, my mare who had died 6 years before! I know it was her because of the feeling I got when it happened. I instantly knew that at that moment, Breezy's spirit had returned to get Stormy and guide her into the spirit world. Through the laughter and the tears and the shaking, I knew my two mares were together again. The realization of what had happened made me laugh and cry even harder, but I felt happiness.
The two horses that had so greatly infuenced my "horsey" life as an adult were together again. Their souls galloped off together into another dimension where there is no pain, no illness, no old age and lots of green grass to eat! I will see them again someday, I know it. I believe our souls will always be together, even if Earth Time gets in the way and we are apart for a while. Horses are one of the gifts I will always be thankful for in this life; they are my sanity. In fact, my life would not be complete without them. Breezy and Stormy taught me lessons about labors of love, laughter and loss. I have 5 horses now and all are young and healthy. But when their time comes, I know Stormy and Breezy will be there to guide them over to greener pastures.
The end, for now.
My name is Kellye Pollard. I just turned 40 last May and I've been having spiritual awakenings for the past few years. I read Shirley's book Out on A Limb and just finished it today. Her book hit home with me so I looked up this website and was so happy to see that she had one! I live in a very rural area of the "bible belt," so I have no one to discuss my beliefs and ideas with. I usually seek solitude, except for my animals. They are the only ones who do not judge me on my beliefs. In fact, they reinforce my beliefs every day, as do my dogs and cats. I don't know why I'm so strongly and spiritually connected to my animals. I hope to figure it out some day. Maybe I'll be in the right place at the right time someday and meet someone who can guide me in my beliefs. Until then, I'm a closet believer living the life I'm expected to.
Thanks, Shirley for writing Out on A Limb all those years ago. I can't wait to read Out on a Leash!
From a fan and fellow believer in the truth: