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3/31/82 to 10/2/15

What is it that makes a horse so special? It’s hard to pin down just one or two things. Mostly it’s what you feel when you are around that horse. It’s that thing you see in their eyes or in the way they carry themselves that makes you want to be a part of their herd. Sometimes, there are no words…

Crystal came to CTR through the laws of supply and demand in 2005. Crystal’s owner had two horses and not much time to spend with her. CTR had more riders than horses. We were “in the process” of becoming an official nonprofit organization when Dr. Sokal, Crystal’s owner, was willing to let us borrow her for lessons in the meantime.

The arrangement worked out well since Dr. Sokal covered Crystal’s board and expenses. With only six riders, CTR appreciated the financial break and Dr. Sokal got a chance to see how Crystal would like the work. It was quickly evident that Crystal could be trusted with anyone on her back. Dr. Sokal donated Crystal when CTR made the move to a farm in Havre de Grace in 2008.

What made Crystal so special was that she knew people to be good and kind. She knew that people would always help her. Whether it was to smack the giant insect on her rump or to provide confidence when she was unsure about her surroundings, people always took good care of her. She looked to people for comfort and security. She always found it in her people.

Crystal had the softest coat. She was a beautiful liver chestnut with a small white star on her forehead. She had no other markings. She had beautiful confirmation and her petite frame was sturdy and hardy, perfect for CTR’s clients who had range of mobility issues.

Crystal never hesitated to express herself vocally. She nickered at everyone who came to see her in her stall or in the pasture. I can honestly say she was a happy horse. When the love of her life, Captain, was out of sight, she whinnied loudly for him. She was usually the last horse in the pecking order, preferring to hang back from the gate, out of the fray and staying safe. It was fun watching her put Sally last in the pecking order with zeal! And Sally relented, allowing Crystal to be brought in before her.

She was such a willing horse, whether we put a tiny rider learning independent riding skills on her or a more experienced rider who wanted to feel what it was like to ride a “push button” horse. She never bucked or spooked. She would walk willingly into the wall if you forgot to steer her. She was such a good teacher.

I once watched her halt and put her head up to keep a rider from falling off during a trotting exercise over ground poles. Crystal tried so hard to give each and every rider the very best ride.

Despite bouts with Lyme Disease that caused her great discomfort, she always managed to rally after rounds of antibiotics. Despite her discomfort, she always maintained that spark that showed us that though she was feeling horrible, she was still with us on the road to recovery.
When she was diagnosed with Cushings Disease, we invested in the expensive medication that helps counteract the symptoms with great success. Despite the effectiveness of the drugs, the tumor on her pituitary gland continued to grow. She gradually lost her eyesight and we all adapted. Our volunteers made sure she had a clear path to walk, and even Captain would wait for her by the gate to take her into the pasture, where she stayed by his side.

We made a commitment to Crystal. We committed to providing her the very best care, the very best social life, and the very best work to do. She was loved every day, for 10 wonderful years.

As all of CTR’s horses have been donated, we are extremely careful in our evaluation process. We are committed to each horse throughout their life. As they age, their health needs are evaluated and addressed. Issues that may end a horse’s career are managed to the benefit of the horse. We are fortunate that the work that we do allows our horses’ years of usefulness as opposed to being turned out to pasture.

It’s imperative that our horses get to be horses in addition to the service they provide. We feel that balance keeps the horses happy and healthy as a herd.

We are fortunate in being a nonprofit organization that we can enjoy the kindness and care our volunteers give to the herd, in addition to in-kind and tax deductible donations that help support the cost of caring for the horses.

So when a horse comes to the end of their life, the time when the spark is gone, and you know that this magnificent creature is suffering beyond the limits of all possible help, we are left with the awful yet loving and necessary decision to do what is best for our friend. This decision is never easy, especially after surviving the highs and lows of caring for an aging horse. The devotion we feel is immeasurable. The reality is that sometimes we outlive them and as their steward, their people, we are entrusted with making sure they suffer no more.

Rest easy, old girl. You gave so much to so many. You touched our hearts in ways we cannot express. We will miss you always and will be forever grateful that we got to be in your herd.

And sometimes there are no words…

3/31/82 to 10/2/15


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