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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Tribute to Quincy, Five Years Later

Oh, beautiful Quincy.

Five years ago today, an era ended. A tragic time of my life when every moment was wrought with agony, wretched teen angst to the Nth degree - a time when I should not have lived to see my 18th year. Early June of 2001, I was blessed enough to have a beautiful black horse enter my life in an explosive way, knocking his two handlers both off their feet as he burst from the trailer, screaming at the top of his lungs and swinging wildly. He was a reject by all means, enough to match even the likes of me - he once upon a time had been a 4th level dressage horse, an eventer, a foxhunter, a fabulous show animal, but he contracted EPM and fought a long and uphill battle against it. His owner, once he had been fully treated, had left him in a stall for two years, trying at some point to sell him for $17,000 to someone, but he had been sent back with the claim he was "unmanageable." She then turned to my barn, the place she had once kept him, and contacted my old trainer, dumping him on her. She didn't really want him either, so she turned to me, and of course I couldn't say no. I was 16, I was rebellious and wild, and I had always dreamed of a black horse. It was love at first sight, as he trampled his handlers, and little did I know that this creature would be the end to all my suffering and pain.

We did everything together - rode for hours and hours, with and without tack, up and down trails, to the cider mill, through the woods, over jumps, around dressage arenas, though giant fields... everywhere. We would hold gallop races in the summer, and would leap into snowbanks in the winter. He was by no means perfect; he could not stand still, he had residual neurological damage from the fight with EPM, he spent most of his time subsequently tripping and falling on his face, his back was fifty miles long, and he was hopelessly attached to his friends. But I didn't care. To me he was the most beautiful creature I could have ever imagined - a god amongst horses - and when we strode off into the sunset together we were one. I rode him under the winter moon in giant silvery snowdrifts, I walked with him side by side on the ground through the autumn leaves. We went everywhere and did everything together. I was a kid in love for the first time, and he was a creature whom no one else had wanted or loved; we were truly inseparable.

We had our few moments of glory. I helped reshape his mind and body for two years, and this little success was proven only twice at two separate dressage shows, where we were Reserve Champion and High Score Trakehner at one of them. It was at Training level, and the competition was only mildly threatening, but to me we were world champions. I didn't care about competition back then; that drive only came when I had Metro. Back when I was 16 and 17, I only cared about spending time with my best friend. I laid with him in the grassy jump field in the summer. I groomed his black coat to a gleaming shine every single day. I reveled not in what ribbons and prizes could be won, but what a little elbow grease and some love can do to a dark horse, and what a little love and care can do to turn around a creature that someone else had looked upon as nothing more than a mere commodity. Horses and the joy that comes from them were simpler to me back then.

What a wretched time in my life outside of the barn. Plagued by the terrible gripping angst that for some unknown reason took a much harsher hold in me than most of my peers, I spent most of my time self-mutilating and plotting my own suicide. Quincy arrived in June of 2001, and in September of that same year, I had a breakdown. A real, severe, life-threatening breakdown. I spiralled out of control, addicted to my own way of self-medicating, and those around me struggled to help; I shunned all their efforts. Day after day, I would stagger home from school in the throes of agony, drugged to the eyeballs, doctored to my wit's end, and I would grit my teeth in preparation for carrying out whatever reckless suicidal plan I had schemed up. "I'll go say goodbye to Quincy," I used to say. "He doesn't really care about me anyway, but I'll go say goodbye." Somehow, I swear he always knew. In his clown-like way, he would always do something adorable or funny, and I would laugh and scratch his withers and feel instantly better. In his liquidy eyes I saw love, and a soul who couldn't care less about what anyone else said about me. He did not care about relationship problems, he did not care about clothing, he did not care about my failing grades, he did not care about the blood on my arms and my legs and my torso, he did not care about my other human relations, and he did not care about what all the doctors were saying about me. He cared that I was there to give him a banana and a scratch, and that I loved him. I always went home from the barn feeling better, and saying to myself, "Well... maybe I won't do it today." Quincy's arrival in my life, a few months before that complete and total mental breakdown, stopped what would have easily been just another teen angst suicide case from happening - he was primed and ready to be my shoulder to cry on, right before I needed it the most.

And so he helped me, for three years of misery. It wasn't the medicines they were giving me, it wasn't the therapy and treatments, it wasn't the many hospitalizations, it wasn't the doctors, and it wasn't any of the people that tried to help get me through that time. It was him, and his unwaivering companionship. I cannot even begin to describe how grateful I am for that.

And finally, in the springtime of 2004... finally, I was coming out of it. I had two horses then, with the arrival of Metro, and Quincy was slipping gracefully into retirement at his old folks' home in Clarkston. With all the falls we had under saddle (and sometimes, in the field on his own), I had decided it just wasn't right to keep riding him regularly, and after much back-and-forth discussion, we decided to retire him and move him to a place with hundreds of acres and fifty friends to live with. He was more than happy to oblige, and he loved it there. With my two amazing boys, I was the happiest girl alive, and my ridiculous suicidal urges were receding into the distance. I was healing. He turned me around, that fuzzy black horse. I am completely convinced that if there is such a thing as a guardian angel, it was Quincy, and he was sent to me right when I needed it the most, a few months before I needed him most.... and as soon as I was ready to stand on my own two feet again, it was time for him to leave. That fateful May 3rd, the most wretched and terrible colic I've ever seen took him from me. I'll write about his death maybe tomorrow, because today is a celebration of his life.

Really and truly, Quincy was a godsend. He was there to help me through my most miserable times, and left when I was ready to stand on my own without him. Three short years he was in my life. I wonder what he would be doing now if he was alive today. He would be 22 this year, fat and happy and sleek and black in the springtime sunshine. I always joked and said he'd be the best man at my wedding, and always imagined him with me years and years from now, still taking the occasional trail ride. I hate that can't ever see what he would have looked like in his old age. He would have been in his late 30's and still acting like an idiot, I know it. You couldn't have told him he was an old man; he would have never believed you. The other day, there was a Smartpak catalogue that came to the barn, and we were flipping through it. There was a whole section on fancy new red blankets and halters and shipping boots, and I felt myself wondering what might we be doing if he was still here. Where would he be living? At his age, would I still be buying him fancy red blankets and shipping boots? I'm sure I would, even though I bet he and Metro would just be living in a field somewhere by now. Would I have ever found Gogo if I still had either one of them? I think probably not. So I guess I have that to be thankful for too. I can just see fuzzy old Quincy now, in the May sunlight. He'd still be hairy from wintertime, and turning 22 of course, which is amazing all by itself. He'd pop his head up from eating the springtime grass across the field and stare at me until I reached him. i'd scratch his withers, he'd flip his lip trying to coax treats out of me, and I would laugh and nothing else in the world would matter. I wish he was still here, even if all he ever did was hang out in a field somewhere. Together we would go lay flat on our sides out in the field, like we did when we were kids in the summertime together, and everything in the world would be at peace.

I still have so much I owe to him, even today.

Five years. I can't believe it's been five years. An entire span of a college career has taken place from then until now, and more. So much has changed, so much has gone on. We take memories like this with us through everything we do, and take comfort in their unwaivering ability to never change even when everything else around us does. But can i even be honest with myself when I say they don't change? The memories are a little hazier, a little less sharp to me now. Five years ago on this day, I was curled up in a ball, completely inconsolable, crying my heart out, wanting to die. Four years ago, I was suffering leading up to the date, I was miserable and aching on the actual day, and I missed him and dreamed of him and wanted him home with me every second. Three years ago, I was still so sad, but I did other things on that day, especially since the death of Metro was then so much closer in my heart. Two year, I wrote long and beautiful things about him. Last year, I didn't even realize the date had arrived until I opened my phone and my heart sank into my stomach. This year, I barely even had time to think about him at all.

If you've lost someone that close to you - your absolute best friend, your complete savior, your angel, your soulmate - then you know what it feels like. and, as they say in Lemony Snicket, if you have not, you cannot possibly imagine it.

Rest in peace, my Fuzzman. You were my very best friend, my entire world, and my greatest healer. Not a day goes by when you are not in my heart, and I will cherish you until the end of time. I owe you my entife life; surely, I would not be here without you.

I miss you so much.



Now it's years since your body went flat, and even memories of that
Are all think and dull, all gravel and glass
But who needs them now - displaced they're easily more safe -
The worst of it now: I can't remember your face...


For a while, with the vertigo cured, we were alive, we were pure
The void took the shape of all that you were
But years take their toll, and things get bent into shape
Antiseptic and tired, I can't remember your face...


You were supposed to grow old
You were supposed to grow old
Reckless, unfrightened, and old,
You were supposed to grow old.

Return... You were supposed to return...


Albigears said...

What a beautiful story, beautifully written. Here's to Quincy, your guardian angel. There are no such things as coincidences. He still is your guardian angel, you know...

Daun said...

You are a beautiful creature, Andrea, and Quincy was the first and wisest to see it.

My thanks to him for keeping you safe so you can share this story with the world.

Funder said...

Sniffle. What a fantastic story about a fantastic horse. Thank you so much for sharing it. He was a beautiful fellow.

Jenn said...

Oh, you made me cry. What a beautiful tribute. Horses are our therapy in so many ways and sometimes, they are the only ones who are there when we need them the most.

*Sharon* said...

It's six o'clock in the morning here, and I'm crying.
Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story with us, I feel humbled. I also believe that things happen for a reason, and Quincy arriving wasn't a coincidence.
Bless the horses.
PS you might want to submit that to Mugwump who is printing other people's stories every Wednesday (see for details)
Kia kaha!

OnTheBit said...

I know I am a day late, but that was a beautiful post. Horses heal humans.

Albigears said...

Oh yes, you should definitely submit it to mugwump!

Boots and Saddles 4 Mel said...

I lost my soulmate horse (a black mare) on April 4th this year after three very short years. I always thought we had years and years together - I was still going to be going out on hacks on her when I was 40 and she was the ripe old age of 30. I too lost her to colic. Your totally and fully describes my relationship with her that I couldn't describe myself.

Stay well,


Shellbean said...

Well i don't think i've ever written to you but to read your blog daily, and this morning you made me cry, right into my soul. Quincy will always be there, waitibg. here to that best friend whom ever they may be.
Shel, From S. Africa

manymisadventures said...

Wow, Andrea...this was an amazing tribute to an amazing horse. Thank you for sharing.

coloradobecs said...

Wow. I have read you blog off and on, but I have never read this particular post, and I so believe in the power of the medicine in the horse. I hope you hold him in your heart, because sometimes only a horse understands.
Look how strong you are now...Quincy helped in that.

Mo85 said...

i may have teared up a bit from this .....beautiful