The last couple of days acted as a reminder to me and to Jason that sometimes life really does not go at all as planned. On Saturday morning all was normal in our world, and by Saturday evening we had said goodbye to Zeus. If there is anything good about these events it is that everything happened very quickly, and Zeus went from a normal, playful and active horse to being euthanized literally in a matter of hours. From the diagnostics and treatment he had done at the clinic Zeus had a strangulating lipoma. The only way to treat this is through surgery and for several reasons we all knew that Zeus was not going to be a good candidate for colic surgery. Jason and I are still trying to absorb everything that happened – and changed – in such a short period of time.
Zeus often gave you the impression that he was saying “wheeeeeee!!”
Zeus was a Danish Warmblood gelding and he had been with his mom for 13 years. His mom has been a lifelong horseperson, however she had taken almost a 20 year hiatus from horse ownership. She was still involved with horses in various ways during that time including leasing and also being part of a partnership that imported and sold Danish Warmbloods. She rode several of these sales horses and gained a real appreciation for the Danish horses. When the timing was finally right for her to rejoin the ranks of horse owners she bought a plane ticket and went to Denmark.
Zeus on his first day; “this place is . . . different!”
His mom spent four days in Denmark trying horse after horse after horse. She knew she was probably going to end up with a horse that was young and green in order to get the conformation and gaits she wanted within her budget. As she was reviewing all of the videos of the trial rides with her trainer she kept going back to a very young bay horse with a star on his forehead. On the other hand her trainer kept steering her back towards Zeus. He kept telling her that he was a bit more mature at six years old, he already had some limited showing experience and was more of a known quantity as far as temperament.
early morning grazing sessions
She said they talked in circles for awhile with her talking about the bay horse with the star and her trainer talking about Zeus. In the end she made what proved to be a very wise decision and listened to her trainer. She made arrangements for a pre-purchase exam to be done on Zeus, and soon he arrived in the United States. After a 20 year break she was officially a horse owner again.
Just having fun; I love how he his looking right at the camera in the top picture
Although Zeus was six when she bought him he was still very green. He had been purchased to be a young girl’s mount from the breeder. With that owner he was started under saddle and shown a few times at what was the equivalent of local hunter/jumper shows in Denmark. After a year of being under saddle his young owner went off to college. At first she did not intend to sell Zeus and turned him out. After being turned out for a couple of years his owner sent him back to his breeder to be sold, and that was where Zeus and his mom crossed paths.
Zeus (front right) enjoying a gorgeous sunrise grazing session with his friends
Zeus, Winston and Faune
Zeus and his mom embarked on a dressage career together with much success. They showed through 4th Level together and were building the foundation for even more advanced work. At the time that he retired they were doing half steps and perfecting pirouettes which his mom said came quite naturally to Zeus.
Zeus enjoying some down time with his friends
Zeus and Winston having some play time
Zeus and his mom had to put their climb through the dressage levels on hold as he began having some soundness issues up front. Zeus had arthroscopic surgery on both of his front fetlocks. As is often the case the surgery was the easy part and the hard work starts with the rehab. In the year following the surgery Zeus had stem cell therapy, IRAP and PRP done, as well as a slow and deliberate return to work. All of the rehab work paid off as he returned to full soundness on his both of his front legs. Unfortunately shortly after his return to full work it became apparent that arthritis in his hocks was making it hard for him to work at his usual level of performance. After hock injections failed to provide enough relief his mom decided it was time to retire him, and then we had the pleasure of meeting Zeus.
Zeus and Silver grooming
Zeus had just joined us in late September and we were looking forward to years of enjoyment together, not months. However we had a wonderful time watching Zeus in the short amount of time we had with him. He had more fun in his time with us than I’ve ever seen any horse have in two months. He was always running, playing and grooming. He definitely made the most of his short time with us and really lived it up. Upon reflection it is almost as if he knew his time with us was going to be limited and he needed to make the most of it. My only regret in this story is that we were not able to accommodate Zeus more quickly. As everyone knows we stay full with a waiting list and Zeus had to wait awhile for us to have a place for him. I wish he could have spent those months reveling in his new life with us since his time here was far too short.
This was definitely not how we expected our time with Zeus to end, but as I’ve been reminded far too often this year, sometimes life is like that. Zeus took to heart the concept to live every moment as if it might be your last, and I’m glad we had the opportunity to watch him do that. Rest in peace Zeus.
the way we will always remember Zeus