Yesterday we said goodbye to Silky. At 32.5 years young she had lived a long, full life. However her body was starting to fail her, and over the last few weeks it was becoming obvious that the end was very near. 
Silky
Silky was born in Flagstaff, Arizona in 1983. She is an Appaloosa and was bred for racing, sired by Deep South and out of a mare named Go Yummer. Her registration papers have her officially named with the most unfortunate moniker of Strumming Yummer. I have never been able to look at Silky and utter the words Strumming Yummer out loud. I didn’t want to offend her. Thankfully someone gave her the nickname Silky in honor of the silky texture of her mane and tail and that is how she was known most of her life.
Silky grazing with friends Dolly and Lily
grazing with Traveller and Calimba

Silky spent the early days of her career at an Appaloosa race track. She sustained a back injury after just a few races that ended her racing career. She then somehow made her way to Oklahoma where she was a barrel racer for a couple of years. For reasons unknown to her mom Silky was labeled as “psycho” and “untrainable” during her barrel racing days and she was sent to an auction. A trainer from Florida happened to be attending the auction and she purchased Silky and shipped her to Florida. It was in Florida, 25 years ago, that Silky and her mom met.

Silky trotting through the pasture with MyLight and Traveller

hanging out with Cinnamon

Silky’s mom was attending summer camp at the barn where Silky was living. It was her first time being around horses and she was assigned a 30 year old mare named Star. Star was slow and bombproof and gentle, but Silky’s mom found herself drawn to another stall. The stall that everyone was warned to stay away from. This horse would kick the stall walls, charge the stall door, and snort and grind her teeth so loudly that you could hear it on the other side of the barn. This horse was, of course, Silky.

Silky

Silky’s mom began hanging out around her stall. Silky didn’t trust this new person at all but she was curious. They began to bond over their shared love of apples and carrots. Once Silky got used to this person who insisted on eating in front of her stall she started paying her some attention, and eventually Silky’s mom was able to feed her and pet her. Unfortunately the summer was over after a few weeks and Silky’s mom had to go back to school.
Silky grazing under a pretty morning sky with Norman and Lily

grazing with Dolly and Cinnamon
During this time Silky’s mom had recently been adopted, but she felt more alone than ever. After summer was over and she went back to school she acted out, badly and often. One day her father finally dropped to his knees in front of her and tearfully asked what he had to do to get her to accept him and her mom and her new life. She said she wanted Silky. Her dad called the trainer in Florida and said they wanted to purchase Silky. The trainer was opposed to it as she didn’t feel it was a good idea to match a beginner child with a difficult horse. However her father told Lynn they would pay whatever it cost in order for Silky to be properly trained, and that week Silky’s mom officially became Silky’s mom

the last picture I took of Silky, grazing with her friend Norman

A few weeks after that, Silky promptly tossed her mom into a puddle — her first fall. As soon as she fell, Silky stopped, craned her neck to look at her, tossed her head and walked back toward the barn. She never fell off of Silky again. Silky learned how to shift herself under her weight when she felt that her young rider was off balance. Countless times her trainer yelled, “she just saved your ass kid.” They learned together and soon found themselves ranked number two in Florida for the 13 and under division on the hunter circuit.

Cinnamon and Silky

munching on hay with Calimba

During this time the family decided to move to Tryon, North Carolina to immerse themselves in the horse scene. They bought a small farm, built a couple of barns and an arena, and purchased more horses to maximize training and showing opportunities. Silky remained the “go to” horse, and after the move to North Carolina Silky and her mom changed their focus to eventing. Silky and her mom were Pony Club Rally champions. During all of their years together, both showing in the hunters and in eventing, Silky never refused a single jump. No matter how intimidating the jump was, Silky’s mom said she never had to worry about Silky stopping at a jump because it simply never happened.

Silky hanging out with Cuff Links and Norman

During her time in North Carolina Silky survived a life threatening tying-up episode that everyone, including her vet, thought would lead to her being euthanized when she was only 12 years old.  Silky shocked everyone by recovering. She had several months off from riding to allow her to fully recover after that scary incident. During that time she was bred and delivered a beautiful filly that her mom named Goddess. Once Silky was ready to go back to work she and her mom returned to their winning ways. 

Silky enjoying retirement

When the time came for Silky’s mom to go off to college Silky went too. After graduating from college Silky’s mom semi-retired her to trail riding status. Silky was 19 years old at the time. They continued to enjoy light riding together until Silky was 25 and her mom decided it was time to fully retire her.

Silky waiting for breakfast with MyLight and Calimba
hanging out with MyLight
We met Silky about 4.5 years ago. Silky and her mom were living in Georgia at the time. Her mom was going to be moving out of the country and she was looking for the perfect farm for Silky. We were lucky enough to meet her high standards and Silky made her way to Tennessee. Silky’s mom had told us that she had not been thriving at her previous barn as she was turned out with a group of young saddlebreds who were pretty rambunctious and she was ready to enjoy her twilight years. Thus we weren’t expecting her to look her best when she arrived. However when the shipper unloaded her off the trailer I said to Jason, “do you think this poor mare will be with us this time next year?” Jason’s response was “I’ll be surprised if she’s with us in six months.” 
Traveller and Silky

early morning grazing with Norman

However Silky was a stubborn Appy who liked to prove people wrong. Thankfully she bonded quickly with her new group of friends. The first day Silky was out with her group she was terrified and wouldn’t go near the other horses, still expecting to get chased like she had at her previous barn. Maisie, one of the mares Silky lived with at our farm, insisted on quietly following Silky around everywhere Silky tried to hide. Eventually she touched noses with Maisie, and within a few days Silky was one of the girls and part of the family. The horse that had us questioning her future proved Jason and I very wrong and proceeded to blossom. She gained weight, became very social, and generally had a great time for the last 4.5 years.

Maisie quietly telling Silky “you can run but you can’t hide from me.”

Over a 25 year relationship it is not surprising that Silky had earned a variety of nicknames from her mom through the years. Some of her nicknames included The Woo, Woosa, Happy Appy, Appywoo, or simply Woman when she was being testy.  Silky loved apples and would beg for a treat by holding up a front hoof. She loved sunbathing, and she loved grooming and hanging out with her friends at our farm. She also made it known to all involved each year that she hated the dentist.

grooming with Norman
grooming with Traveller
grooming with MyLight
Sadly we said our goodbyes to Silky, AKA The Woo, Woosa, Happy Appy, Appywoo, and Woman, yesterday. After 32.5 years of living life largely on her terms her body was physically starting to fail her. We said our goodbyes under the shade of a giant old tree by her pasture with her friends watching on the other side of the fence. After the vet sedated her and began to administer the euthanasia solution, Silky left this world before the vet had injected half the solution. She was ready to go. We will miss her, rest in peace Silky.
enjoying retirement with Dolly and Lily