Emails, comments, and messages have poured in from all over the planet celebrating Skeeter’s life and how much he meant to so many personally. Keeps us in tears. I don’t think we ever thought of Skeeter as a very public horse. Cash was. But Skeeter was… just Skeeter. Gentle, sweet, quiet, smart, kind Skeeter. Kathleen’s sofa. Thank you all so much for your words. Here’s a short sampling:
Melanie van der Woude wrote, “Just wanted to say that I am sorry for your loss. And thank you for allowing Skeeter to be a teacher to all of us who read your books and follow your blog. Thank you for giving him a wonderful life! It might be nice to know that Skeeter had a worldwide impact (which I’m sure you know). Tonight here in Spain we’ll be raising our glass in celebration of Skeeter. Because of you, he got to change the lives of people and horses all around the world.”
Deb DePaso wrote: “I have always related Kathleen and her Skeeter to me with my fears and my sweet Caleb–bought from a woman who saved him from the kill-buyer–a quiet, gentle soul who, despite his past, patiently taught me to trust and believe in relationship. My heart aches for you having to say good bye. Thank you more than words for all the wisdom you’ve gained and shared with us. My life and my horses lives, happiness, health and contentment were forever changed because you did.”
From Jane Ames: “You lost this precious boy!? Oh my, my eyes are welling up here. He is one of those horses I have always wanted to meet. He is one I remember … regularly… and say to myself: see, there is a horse who is kind and gentle and who takes care of the lady on his back. His story will live on. I never did meet him, but I will always remember him.“
Christy Pugh: “I am so sorry about sweet Skeeter. He had the sweetest soul. Kaitlin and I loved him. He had that personality to make anyone fall in love with him. You and Joe are in our thoughts.“
Joy Eriksen: “I am heartbroken to hear about Skeeter. He was my favorite of all your horses. Such a gentle and beautiful being he was. Inside and out.”
Betsy: Maxwell: “Thank you, Skeeter for the lessons you shared and to Joe for sharing them.”
Gerry Clayton: “God bless Skeeter for the exceptional companion and teacher he was.”
I’ll never forget Skeeter’s first experience with the Aussie tie ring. It’s a small stainless-steel ring with a pivoting tongue across the middle. One loop of the lead rope around the tongue, and that’s it. No knot. The tongue applies enough resistance to the lead rope to give the horse the sense of being tied, but if something scares the horse enough to make him pull back hard, he gets relief, not confinement. The rope slips through the ring just enough for the horse to realize: Hey, I’m not confined. It’s okay. Just enough to send him back to the thinking side of his brain. For our horses, who rarely wear ropes these days, tying was no longer associated with confinement. They could pull themselves right out of the ring, but they didn’t.
Except for Skeeter. The first time he was on a ring, we stepped into the tack room for a moment and when we returned, he was up in the yard munching away on grass. His departure from the tie ring did not involve flipping to the reactive side of his brain. He was definitely on the thinking side, using his (then) eighteen years of experience to realize that hmmm… I’m not really tied here, and that grass is awfully green. We laughed out loud. And let him stay and enjoy.
And I’ll never forget that look in Skeeter’s eyes when Dr. Matt was doing the vet check on Skeeter right after we had brought him home and was showing us those multiple scars from spurs mentioned in the previous post. At eighteen Skeeter had long passed the point of merely fearing the way he was going to be treated by the next humans in his life. He was assuming it would be the same as it had always been, so he was trying to short-circuit the fear by saying: See what a nice horse I can be. How calm and compliant. I’m such a good boy. Please pretty please don’t use those spurs on me. Don’t hit me. I’ll be good. I promise.
I told him then that we didn’t even own a pair of spurs and that he was in for a whole new way of life. He was going to be happy for perhaps the first time in his life. He was going to be loved.
And he was.
So very, very much.