In Memory of Regis
Yesterday we said goodbye to Regal and Royale, better known as Regis. He was young, only sixteen years old, which makes his entire story that much more heartbreaking. Our history with Regis was very short, he only lived with us a little over three and a half months, but he made a big impression and reminded us of some important life lessons.
Regis was an incredibly stoic horse. I’ve only ever known one other horse that was as stoic as Regis. His stoicism allowed him to cope with the myriad of problems that he faced, severe ringbone and navicular up front, and off and on inflamed hind suspensories as a result of compensating for the issues in his front legs.
Regis did not have to make a big trip to our farm, he lived just a 20 minute trailer ride away. I remember the day we went to pick Regis up and meet him in person. He had a big banner on his stall that said “Happy Retirement” and he looked at us through the stall bars with his ears pricked forward and curious.
Regis checking out the goats on his first day
Our first day with Regis was a true glimpse into this horse’s character. Despite all of his issues and all of the reasons he had to be grumpy, unfriendly and uninterested in life he was the exact opposite. If Regis were a person he would be one of those people with some type of severe disability that goes on to accomplish amazing things and making people marvel and wonder how they did it.
Regis lived life to the fullest, and despite his state of lameness once he was introduced into his new group of friends he established himself as the new boss in about five minutes. It seemed that every day we lived with this horse he did things he shouldn’t have been able to do. He was also the type that knew no boundaries and when watching him play hard with his friends we would stand there wishing he would stop, knowing he would pay the price for his exuberance for several days.
I mentioned earlier that Regis reminded me of some important things. I said to his owners yesterday that I believe that people and horses come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. There were two important reasons why Regis came to our farm and into our lives. One of them is that just because you think you can address a horse’s issues and get them to a better place it doesn’t mean that you should. I do strongly believe that if we had asked Regis to keep going as he was for 9 to 12 months while we made some key changes in his management that the odds were good that he would have gotten to a better place and could have had a couple more years of retirement. However life is about the journey and not the destination. The price Regis was paying and would have to keep paying for several months in order to get to that destination was just too high. It would have been wrong for us to ask this kind and incredibly stoic horse to keep dealing with the issues that had been plaguing him for so long.
Regis enjoying a nap in the sun on a sunny spring day
The other important lesson that Regis reminded us of, and it so important, is that not every horse gives you that clear signal that they can’t do it anymore. People often ask “how do you know?” Sometimes it is a clear answer, especially when the horse is going downhill not just physically but mentally. But sometimes, as is the case with Regis, they never lose their mental edge. They never lose their appetite, their spirit doesn’t dull, they still manage to keep up with their friends, and it makes it so tempting to keep pushing.
Regis and Noble
Although I’m very sad I am also very relieved. Euthanasia is a way to take an animal’s pain away and make it our own. I’m glad that Jason and I and Regis’ family were able to give him that final gift. He had quite a name to live up to in Regal and Royale but he did it without even trying right up to the end.