Bergie’s owner at the time eventually began taking lessons with her husband so they had the opportunity to get to know Bergie even more. Bergie’s owner ended up moving several states away and they didn’t see him again for awhile. But then he came back into their lives again as he was sent to them to be sold. Bergie’s former owner had to sell him due to personal reasons and he found his way back into their lives.
Bergie’s big trot made it hard to sit for the typical amateur dressage rider so they didn’t get him sold right away. His future mom kept liking him more and more but she could not afford him. Sadly her brother passed away and left her a small insurance policy. Her husband encouraged her to take the insurance money and buy Bergie. The proceeds from the insurance policy were not enough to meet his asking price. She told Bergie’s owner that she would love to buy him, that “XX” was what she could afford to pay, and that “if she ever sold him for a bazillion dollars she would share the proceeds of the sale.” Bergie’s owner responded with “how much is a bazillion dollars?” and Bergie’s mom had a new horse.
Eventually Bergie was fully retired. After he had been officially retired for a few years he made his way to our farm two years ago. Although Bergie was 27 years old at the time he acted like he was 7. His mom told us of Bergie’s love of mud, dirt, wet grass and manure and his expertise at coating himself in them. We had plenty of opportunities to admire Bergie’s artistic talents as he presented himself with a new version of Bergie almost every day. He was like a heat seaking missile when it came to covering himself in any medium that would leave a stain on him.
His mom also warned us that if Bergie didn’t want to be caught he wasn’t going to be caught. We had plenty of experience with that side of Bergie as well. We finally were able to come to a mutual agreement with Bergie about being caught. As long as we did whatever we needed to do with him in the pasture, be it grooming or bathing, seeing the farrier or the vet, anything at all, as long as we did everything with him in the pasture he would let us catch him any time with no issues.
The only time we ever violated our agreement with Bergie was once a year in the spring. Bergie had Cushings/PPID and he needed to be body clipped each spring. I always did this in the barn as I didn’t want one of his pasture mates to decide to grab the clipper cords in the pasture. Bergie made sure we knew we had not kept up our end of the agreement for a couple of weeks after our barn body clipping sessions. I would tell him I was sorry over and over and that I wouldn’t do it again (until next year anyway) and eventually, after he felt we had been thoroughly reprimanded and reminded that we had failed to hold up our end of the agreement, he would allow us to catch him anytime again.
One thing I am sure Bergie wasn’t expecting when he came to our farm was that he would have his very own paparazzi. One of his pasture mates, Stormy, immediately became obsessed with Bergie once he joined their group. Although Stormy wasn’t always next to Bergie he always knew where Bergie was and what he was doing. So we jokingly referred to Stormy as Bergie’s very own paparazzi.
Unfortunately some of Bergie’s health issues that had been manageable started catching up with him in the last few months. He started very slowly and subtly declining, but unfortunately all the things that could be done to manage his health were already being done and we were out of options. We made the decision with his family to let Bergie enjoy the beautiful fall weather, and then we would pick a perfect day and let him go peacefully and with dignity.
That day came last week. Jason and I had been going on with our lives and pushing back “that day” as long as possible. Finally the time came when we needed to step up and give Bergie the passing he deserved while the weather was still perfect and he was still happy and not in crisis.
I felt guilty as I walked up to Bergie and caught him with no issues. I wondered if he would have held up his end of the agreement if he knew why I was catching him. But as I thought about it I think Bergie did know. Something had changed in the herd dynamics in the last couple of days before Bergie passed. Stormy was no longer stalking him and accounting for his every move. He was still part of the group but it was different that Stormy was allowing him so much freedom. I think Bergie and the other horses knew it was his time, and he accepted his passing with dignity.
Bergie was of course coated in dirt which was only fitting. I think Bergie would have seen it as a permanent insult to his legacy if he had been groomed and bathed in his final hours. We let him carry on with his business of grazing while the vet sedated and then euthanized him. He passed quietly with a mouthful of grass while his friends grazed nearby. As his mom said there is now a new star in the sky, and that if you want to find Bergie’s star just look for the one with the slightly green manure-ish tint to it.
Rest in peace Bergie, may your star be forever bright and slightly green.