June, 1988 – August 23, 2001
|When I first saw Muscatyr, he was about a month old. He was all
neck, legs and personality. He climbed into my pocket, found his way to
my heart, and spent the next 13 years there.
Muscatyr grew up to be a very handsome horse who exuded charisma. He was big (15.2) for an Arabian and had a spectacular huge trot. Most important, he was always cheerful and happy. I trained and showed Muscatyr for a career in dressage, since that is what I loved. He achieved a measure of success in the dressage show ring but was definitely hampered by me. He did well enough to win several year end awards from the Houston Dressage Society, and a national championship at Training Level from the Arabian Sport Horse Association. But it was a struggle. His show performance was very irregular – he could be last, or win everything with very high scores.
Once I accepted the fact that Muscatyr’s heart did not lie in the dressage arena, his career was re-directed toward endurance. I loved him and wasn’t about to sell him, and wanted to find something he and I both would enjoy.
Endurance was much more to his liking. Now we had the opposite problem. Muscatry was very serious about his new-found occupation, while I was happy to lark about and just enjoy the scenery and the camaraderie, with no thought to where we placed. Muscatyr, however, if he had a different partner, could have been a keenly competitive endurance horse. He had the stamina, the wonderful big tough feet, the sturdy build, and most of all, the heart. I imagined Muscatyr talking to his friends about this, “You know, I could win those darn 25-mile rides if she would just be a little more motivated. I know she could do it if she really tried. But she just pulls on my face to slow me down. It’s really frustrating – I have really high goals here, and she’s just not getting with the program!”
Although I had raised Muscatyr from a weanling, and he was already about 8 years old when we switched careers – our special partnership was really forged out on the trail, and not in the arena.
Maybe it’s because I wasn’t trusting him with my life when we were riding in a 66x198 foot arena… but it was a whole different story when we were 8 miles from home in the middle of a remote area, by ourselves.
Trust him I did.
I trusted him – when he’d never been around traffic in his entire life – to gallop down the median of a four-lane highway with semis, motorcycles and idiots with blaring horns flying by within 30 feet of us.
I trusted him to gallop along this same median in the dark. Alone.
I trusted him to cross busy highways in the dark on our way to our trails in the winter, when that was the only time I could condition him. Alone.
I trusted him to gallop on the bank of irrigation canals, where a spook to one direction might mean a big splash and an impromptu dunk. Or worse.
Once we were galloping along by ourselves on a beautiful morning, and suddenly the world turned upside down. My last memory was of looking up and seeing not sky, but a horse somersaulting over me.
Although I did not realize it at the time, Muscatyr had stepped in a hole and fell. We were both shaken. Despite my helmet, I was knocked a bit loopy and was completely disoriented. I knew I should know how to get home – I was in an area I was very familiar with – but somehow my muddled brain could not figure which direction to go. Muscatyr was still with me, although his leg was bleeding. I remember thinking that Muscatyr would find the way home. And carry me home, he did, despite the fact I did not remember a large portion of the journey, or even getting back on.
The next morning I took him to the vet to have his leg ultrasounded and x-rayed, since it was swollen and he was lame. He checked out okay. Only THEN did I take myself to the doctor for a broken finger and head x-ray.
When our wounds healed, I went back and found the hole Muscatyr had stepped in, and my knees turned to jelly. He had actually stepped through a rusted metal culvert and there was a perfect hoofprint at the bottom – nearly 3 feet down. That he did not break his leg that day is a miracle.
That day, and every day I rode him out my driveway, I trusted him with my life. And he trusted me with his. I feel like he kept his part of the bargain, but I failed him somehow.
I take a small measure of comfort in the fact that, by horse standards, he had a good life. He never knew hunger or cruelty of any sort. He could generally beg a “cookie” whenever he wanted one. He spent his days grazing and nights curled up in his cozy stall. He always had one or two good buddies. He especially enjoyed his post-breakfast nap every morning. I think he would have said it was a pretty good life.
It was just way too short.
In the last few years of his life, Muscatyr had nagging health problems. He quit sweating in the summer of 1998 – a serious problem for a horse who lives in a place where the summers are long and very hot and humid. In June, 1999, he coliced and almost died. We got him to A&M probably in the nick of time. And then in February of 2000, he foundered for the first time. Through it all, Muscatyr was his usual cheerful self.
Even when he foundered to the point where he was unrideable – I was okay with that. I had other horses to ride. Muscatyr was way more than just something to ride.
He was my buddy. He was a great listener and he always had a shoulder to lean on. And lean on it I did during some dark days. He didn’t mind when I cried on his shoulder, either.
Muscatyr was the Wal-Mart greeter.
He greeted me (okay, anyone) who pulled up in my driveway with a wildly enthusiastic whinny.
When I walked out the back door, his head would go up from grazing and he would scream out a hello. When we were battling the repeated bouts of founder, and he had to stay at the vet, I would call to see how he was doing, and the vet tech would carry the cordless phone out to the barn and hold it up out and say “Say hello, Muscatyr.” And I would hear Muscatyr’s earsplitting “wildly enthusiastic whinny” through the phone.
He was eternally happy and cheerful. Even toward the end, when he could barely walk, Muscatyr accepted his fate with courage, dignity and eternal optimism. He still greeted my arrival with his wildly enthusiastic whinny.
Muscatyr made so many friends during his lifetime. He was the equine Will Rogers -- he never met anyone he didn’t like…horse or human. If horses had beauty pageants, Muscatyr would win the Miss Congeniality award, hooves down. Everyone loved him. Other horses. My friends. The farrier. The vet. Me.
When his pain from the founder became unmanageable, despite the best care and medicine, I set him free. He died with a “cookie” in his mouth. Not a bad way to go.
He’s buried in my pasture, and I can see his grave from my back porch.
Goodbye my sweet boy. You were one of the special ones.