The elegant Old Soldier is finally putting on weight again. Prince was Grace's next door neighbor and biggest fan. They would stand head to head over the fence, dozing in the sun and gossiping. When they were turned out together, Prince would dutifully follow behind her and, should another horse try to come up to Grace, he would go into a possessive frenzy and run them off!!
On the day that Grace crossed the Rainbow Bridge, I put my arms around his refined neck, held my face against his thinning mane and while I sobbed, I told him the heartbreaking news that she had left us. After a short moment, his dainty Arabian head jerked up and while his huge liquid eyes looked off in the distance, blasted the air with several long, high pitched neighs. He pulled away from he and began running the fence that had divided his and Grace's pen. Suddenly he stopped, eyes wide, nostrils flaring and looked at me as if asking me to confirm what I had just told him. Through my tears I once more told him Grace was gone. I stepped towards him to try to console him and myself, but he lowered his head and walked away as if to say he wanted to be left alone. Truthfully, I do not know if he understood what I had told him, but he had never behaved that way before, nor since. In my heart, I think he knew exactly what I was saying.
I kept a close eye on him as I knew how attached he was to Grace and feared he might go into a depression that would cause him to leave us too. We have witnessed horses that have a deep attachment, love for each other, go into depression when their partner leaves or passes away. The remaining partner has been known to just give up or give in and not want to eat, not want to live without their friend. I feared this might happen to Prince. Although Prince is older and we are quite sure he has experienced the loss of companions previously, he "wears his heart on his sleeve" so to speak and usually attaches quickly and strongly to mares that are his neighbors.
As expected, Prince began to decline in weight. For the first couple of days, he did not finish his breakfast or dinner portions. We added some supplements along with his usual ration of vitamins and prayed. When Dolly arrived, I put her in Grace's old pen in the hopes that he would find a new friend and perk up. Oddly, he showed little interest in her other than to charge the fence when she was near. In the past he was always excited to be next to a mare and make her his new object of undying admiration.
Slowly, he began to lose weight and I feared he would become ill. Twice he exhibited signs of colic and I administered medication. He was eating all his feed, yet he was still losing weight. He had eventually accepted that Dolly was his new neighbor and would stand next to her along the fence line. But, when I would turn Dolly out he did not do his frantic pacing like he normally does when his friend is out and he is not. He didn't get excited at all.
Finally, he began putting weight back on and calling to me when I came out to feed. He began trying to rub his head on me as he used to do and is much more lively. Perhaps, after all this mud dries up, (we sure have had the rain!!) I will be able to turn he and Dolly out together and he will have found a new friend. For now, we are just pleasantly relieved that he is putting weight back on, and making sure that I know it is a RULE for gray horses to lie in the mud so that they look like a brown and white horse!! HAAAA!