Chicago Sun-Times

A Horse Story

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2 Jan 09

India was the name of our first horse.
Gray-white and a little speckled, we bought her in 1995 when the boys, Joshua and Gideon, were only 10 and 8.
Josh wanted to re-name her.
"How about Sonic the Hedgehog?" he said with dead seriousness. Sonic, after all, was a cartoon star of video games back in the early 90's and a particular favorite of his.
Me, not so much.

Fortunately, Josh decided it wasn't such a great idea after all.
And India, mercifully, stayed India.
But she early on developed leg problems and pretty soon couldn't jump at all. And couldn't even canter very hard.
Josh was worried about her future.
"What are you going to do with her?" he demanded. "You're not going to kill her, are you?"
No, I said firmly, we took her into this family and she stays part of this family.
But it was clear she needed a new and less demanding place to live and graze and finish out her years.
We found that place in Bangor, Michigan with a wonderful woman named Mary Ann Smith. She and her husband, Gary, ran Twin Pines, a kind of retirement farm for old or wounded horses.
And so India moved in.
That was the beginning of my understanding that horses aren't so different from people.
India, a mare with a mind of her own, began to bond with a gelding named Sunny. Pretty soon, according to Mary Ann, they became inseparable. One wouldn't go out to pasture without the other. They were housed together in side-by-side stalls, a devoted old couple and happy about it.
It was Thanksgiving of 2006 that Mary Ann called. "India has colic," she said, referring to what can be a fatal obstruction of the intestines. "She's suffering, too old for surgery and the vet and I both think the only humane thing to do is put her down."
I gave the consent and thanked her for the great care she had taken with our mare.
A couple of days later, the phone rang again with Mary Ann on the line.
"I just have to tell you," she said, "the rest of the story."
After the vet had put India down, Mary Ann took Sunny from his stall to show her to him---to break it to him, in other words---before they buried India out in a back pasture. Sunny went back into his stall and stopped eating. It was as though his heart was broken. A couple of days later, Sonny died.
"We buried him out back with India," said Mary Ann. "I knew you'd want to know."
A horse story.
A love story.

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What a story! After 26 years of managing farms, and now having my own, its very true. Horses are VERY intelligent intuitive creatures. I consider it a blessing that I get to be with them everyday. Thank you for sharing this. Phil, by the way, needs to speak about what he knows about and remain mute about what he does not!

What a touching story, and another example of the complex emotions that these majestic animals have. Also nice to see a story where the animals were literally put out to pasture, rather than facing a more immediate fate. Check out whats happening with the wild herds out west

OMG that is soooooo sad. I love horses--Ive worked with them on a farm in Wis. and when I came back to Chgo ( which is where I am originally from) I still wanted to work with horses so....I got a job with a carriage co. now called the Noble Horse. And just for the record they take very good care of their horses! And yes u might think horse are big and stupid but theyre very smart.

(((from Carol Marin: Donna, thanks so much for this!))))

thank you for that wonderful but sad story. As you know that we have, love and keep old horses. It is hard to lose one, and then to lose 2 that are a couple. It does show you that love transends all species of sentient beings.


What a touching story. I am glad you shared this story so that others can understand the intelligence and sensitivity of horses. If more people understood they're not "dumb beasts", perhaps we wouldn't tolerate them being so abused. Take for example horse slaughter: this year over 100,000 American horses were bought by brokers, kept in crowded collection lots with no vet care or pain management, and eventually butchered in a way that even the vet associations say is not humane. Horses are amazing animals, if people get to know them.

Phil Albee wrote: "Will it starve to death in a "couple of days"? Never. Either the story is fraud, or Carol Marin misrepresents how it happened."

It's plausible, and to assume it's fraud when you don't have the details seems unfair.

If he stops eating and drinking, his gut motility may be affected. He's definitely getting dehydrated, and if nothing else dehydration puts a horse at risk for impactions. If he's stressed from the sudden change and you add in his old age, it's believable he could have died within days of the mare.

Carol, your beautiful love story of India and Sunny has me in tears. We know how hard it is to lose a beloved animal and send our condolences to you and your family.

(Aside: my son John Naisbitt was a 2007 Golden Apple Award winner. He had enthusiastic praise for your gracious kindness to him and the other teachers before and during the ceremony honoring the winners. I thank you for that as well as for your consistently outstanding journalism.)

Doesn't add up.

Do horses grieve? Yes.

Will a grieving horse stop eating, and starve itself to death? Yes.

Will it starve to death in a "couple of days"? Never.

Either the story is fraud, or Carol Marin misrepresents how it happened.

I smell a little of both.

(Response from Carol Marin:
Can't say that he starved himself to death.
But he did, according to Mary Ann stop eating.
And he did die.
Being an old horse, I suppose it could have been anything.
I understand your question though.
Wish I could explain it.
Best, CM)

Hi Carol,
Thank you for sharing India and Sonny with your readers. I still miss my long-gone ones, though I still have 30-year-old American Saddlebred Goldie and am trying to bond with an off-the-track Thoroughbred, Red.

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This page contains a single entry by Carol Marin published on January 2, 2010 6:37 AM.

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