This week, we put London down.
Last Monday, he began to use his hind end differently - balancing with his hind legs very far up under his body, very careful how he stood- so my mother brought him to the vet. He had an abscess in a front foot which has been on the mend. The vet's first thought (and our hope) was that London was a wimp and was just really overcompensating due to his discomfort. Then he began spiking temperatures.
Long story short, London spent his final week at Waller Equine Hospital. He didn't respond to treatments, and tested negative for most of the major neurological illnesses - his EPM titre was inconclusive, but he failed to improve when dosed with Marquis. By the end of the week, he looked good physically (aside from the hind end issues), but he was not responding emotionally and his motor control of his hind end continued to suffer. We made the decision to put him down rather than wait until he went down and could not get up on his own.
London was very different than Opie. Opie was my first love; London ignited a new love. London was my first real show horse. He knew more than me when we bought him, and other than his lateral walk, he was the very image of the modern sport horse. A Romer son, London was a beautiful horse. He was kind, and sweet, and everything a teenaged girl needed in a guy.... He taught me about dressage; introduced me to half passes, medium gaits, flying changes and what it feels like to get a horse truly on the bit.
The most important lesson London taught me was that horse shows do not need to be scary. If I practiced hard enough, he would do what I asked. After Arlberg, I'll admit, I had more than a little bit of trepidation about showing.
What if I can't stop him? What if he spooks? Everyone thinks I'm terrible!
But London was always there for me. He would go in and do a test in slow motion if I needed him to... That got to be frustrating later in life when I really wanted him to be the fancy hot show horse that the other Jr/YRs were showing, but he was safe when I needed him to be.
On that note, we were always in the ribbons. I have boxes and boxes of ribbons from the 70-some-odd horse shows that I attended with London (thank you CenterlineScores.com for keeping track for me). London and I were not a 70% pair, but were were almost never a 50% pair, which is really saying something when he had a teenage girl to teach how to ride. We won reserve championships (not at the actual championships... but we were always in the top 8). We won a lot of reserve championships. London and I almost made it on the pedastal so many times, that I cherish the two neck sashes he did win. Second level Jr/YR and Third Level Jr YR.
Reserve Champion, of course.
Once he knew I could handle it, London got a little more spirited. He had a move that my sister and I dubbed " The Porpoise". The Porpoise was London's "I'm too full of myself and there's nothing you can do about it... But I don't want to scare you too much" move. It always occurred at the canter, usually when I finall got a true medium or extended and I tried to bring him back and he wasn't done showing off yet. He would push off both hind legs and leap up as if starting a rodeo style bronc session but he would never follow through with a kick or twist... Just the leaping through the air in a powerful yet controlled arc.
|The Porpoise, in action|
London's first experience babysitting was with RC. RC was a little over a year old and full of himself. He loved to rear and jump on whoever was handy- Opie, me, my mom, the wheelbarrow. It was annoying. When London came home to our ranch for the first time, we put him in the little turnout pen so that he wouldn't get beaten up by Opie. Who to keep him company without disturbing the existing herd? Who wouldnt the old mares miss? RC!
So we tossed RC in the pen with London, confident that a yearling quarter horse couldn't hurt all 17+ hands of London, and that London wouldn't dream of hurting anyone, ever. RC immediatly went into "let's see who is more of a bad ass" mode, running up to London and pulling out his best and highest Hi-Ho-Silver impression.
|The Old Man's Club|
"Oh, you like to rear? I love to rear! Watch this!"
And then London went up. And up. And up.
RC stood there, watching london's rear get higher and higher and higher... all while staying balanced. His little colt jaw was hanging open; the look on RC's face was plainly comical.
From that experience forward, RC was London's little sidekick, and when ever they would disagree about something - when was the best time to go for water, or which tree to stand under- they would settle it by who could get their head higher. London always won.
In the years after college, London went on to teach other riders what a flying change feels like, how to ride a half pass, and what a dream canter feels like.
London, RC and I will miss you. Thank you for your patience.