So this post stays, just as written originally. I need to re-read it a thousand times to tune into any signs I could have seen. My only excuse to myself is that this woman is a very accomplished liar. Can't believe I didn't see some sign.
A bittersweet decision.
There comes a time in life where you have to give something up, not because you want to, but because continuing to do it is just getting harder to maintain. Sometimes it's because not giving it up becomes selfish. And sometimes, it's just the smart thing to do from a standpoint of common sense. Any of those reasons can be independent of the others, but in this case, all three were becoming undeniable realities.
I knew it was time to find Cloud a new home. I kept putting it off. Didn't advertise. Didn't want to deal with it. Didn't want to give up what was. But as well as Cloud did as an only horse while she was being trailered to trails and outings, at a point she started becoming a lonely horse, because she wasn't. The guilt in seeing that happening is crushing.
First of all, meet Cloud. Photo taken 3 months ago. Trotting in for afternoon yummies, nickering the whole way...
It's pretty hard to believe that this horse is at the higher end of 23 years old. Beautiful registered Paint, great blood lines, bred by a physician whose hobby was breeding horses, she has gorgeous blue eyes, to boot. Stunning under gait for an older gal, unusually straight, strong top line, outstanding health and soundness. Now add extremely well trained, responds to English as well as the most sensitive Western neck reining and other cues, responds to those as well as verbals only, loads herself in and out of trailers of any type, great on the trails, will go into water, over/under bridges, climb rocks, and if you canter her next to another horse, she thinks it's off to the races and her stride widens so she flies. Fun spirit. And an absolute shame to allow to stand around, languishing day in, day out. All that highly desireable stuff, going to waste.
New owner came along, a better situation for Cloud than I could have designed from a wish list. A solid, young family of horse lovers, where Mom is very experienced and has her own horse, Dad isn't as experienced but not ashamed of that, and a gentle, sensitive man. Mom works at a boarding/training facility where there are 17 other horses in fantastic accommodations from a horse's standpoint. Beautiful corrals with run-ins, stalls if needed, bathing station, outdoor training arenas, one bare, one with obstacles to learn on, and miles of gorgeous wide trails with great footing. Cloud will be Dad's horse, and he's 5-8, weighs 150 which is a great size for a 15:3HH horse Cloud's age. And Mom is not only there on property every day, but a Vet Tech to boot. I really like these people. She could easily be my daughter and he could easily be my son in law.
Money? Got very little. I know, and they know that Cloud is worth over 5 times what we ended up at. It wasn't their opinion of her value, just finances. They'd just bought their daughter a horse at the same time, and it turns out that he might need some special medical care. I'd set a low price to start with, specifically so I could have a big choice of homes, but we ended up at 1/3rd of that. Instead, we worked it out that I can still ride Cloud from time to time for a while. It gives me a soft landing on hanging up my reins. And since I'm easy to ride with, and Mom would be also, it's an easy condition for Mom to satisfy. She got a great deal, Cloud got a great deal. And actually, so did I, in the form of knowing a horse who's meant a lot to me, is getting a phenomenal situation.
Yeah, I really like these people, and trusted them by gut feeling the second I met them, as well as everything I've seen since then, which is a fair bit. It just doesn't get better than that.