Life is a circle, a continuous cycle of seasons. When I rescued Autumn, she was in the "Autumn" cycle of her life. Her lack of care was evident in her emaciated body, her dull coat, her vacant eyes. She was riddled with rain rot from head to hoof and her tail and mane was covered in burs. But there was something about her that said "she's the one for me."
With love and proper care she rebounded beautifully and thrived on my little farm for nearly five years. However, in these past couple of months she took a turn for the worst. More and more I noticed that she was spitting partially chewed hay. After the equine dentist came he confirmed she could no longer chew hay well enough to swallow. Her teeth were worn down too far. I began to feed her softened mash, which she ate contentedly, but she still wanted her hay. It was frustrating for her to be hungry, to have the food in her mouth, but in the end to have to spit it out for fear of choking.
In my heart I knew the right thing to do was help her gracefully move on from this life on earth. Her work was over and her body was tired. She became beautiful over the years. Her coat shone and you could see her spirit in her loving, kind eyes. Her final years were good and it gladdens my heart to know that I was able to give them to her. I can't say enough wonderful things about Autumn, so I'll let the following pictures do the talking. Oh, one more thing. All this time I thought Autumn was 20-something. Turns out she was between 30-35. Wow! That made yesterday a whole lot easier for me. In fact, it made me smile.
Winter of 2008. She loved closing her eyes towards the sun during the winter.
This was her 2nd winter with us.
The dogs loved to come out when she was fed so they could eat the scraps. This is Sonny waiting patiently.
Spring of 2008. I love to photograph horses eyes. They are so soulful, and as you can see, her spirit is fully back.
Every day I walked her up the road to a friends house so she could graze on the grass. It was her favorite thing to do.
What a happy girl.
Dandelions were her most favorite thing to eat. She couldn't get enough!
May 2008 in our pasture.
This is a rare moment. She hardly ever laid down to nap.
Autumn always insisted that the grass was always greener on the other side of the fence!
June 2008. Now tell me, does this look like a 30-something year old horse!?
To keep her within the boundaries of my front yard, I just put rope up between trees and fence lines. Such a good horse!
And then along came Muffin in October of 2008. This was his 2nd day and she was still unsure of him, but much more accepting than day one. By day 3 she was his "mommy."
Once she realized the goats were no longer afraid of him she calmed down.
After the initiation, they became inseparable.
She was never alone and seemed to enjoy her status as Queen.
She grew a thick, beautiful coat and even the frigid cold of January didn't bother her.
This is one of my favorites of her. I love the colors and frozen lashes.
Basking in the January sun.
Of course there were times when Autumn had to scold Muffin, but she did so with her gentle authority.
And he would reply with "I'm a baby, don't hurt me." And Autumn never, ever did him any harm.
After a good roll in the snow before breakfast, Autumn would occasionally become frisky. I love their expressions!
With Muffin around, you could say she was always entertained!
Feel the love
Another frisky moment in the freshly fallen snow.
And there always seemed to be a conversation afterward, in which Muffin realized she was bigger than him!
Heavily snow-laden maple branches = winter treats!
You can't beat that late day February sunlight.
She even had to tolerate her little stallion, but as you can see, she wasn't worried!
Autumn's last snow storm.
She loved to stand in her stall and look out.
Her final days of eating her mash. The chickens picked at the bits she dropped.
Her closed stall door signifies where Muffin had to wait while she ate her portions of food.
This was the last picture I took of her, standing in the morning light, eating her breakfast, the beautiful glow of life in her eyes, where once she held a vacant stare, one I thought could never be penetrated. But her brief time with me showed me that love is all you need. I will always cherish my time with her and I will miss her sweet nicker whenever I came into her space. She had a kind, big heart and I will be continually blessed because of her. Her spirit runs free now, no longer chained to the failings of her earthly body.
I will always love you, Autumn.