That dreaded phone call
Ruth Burleigh reflects on the day she'll have to make that dreaded call and put her beloved horse Boris 'out to pasture'.
RUTH BURLEIGH: I only have my two boys left now. Boris is 32. His old body is failing nowadays. He piddles on himself all the time. And he doesn't have any teeth, so he has to be hand-fed morning and night, or he'd starve.
I love my horses. I get them when they're very young. Then they are mind for life. This story is about my oldest horse, Boris.
Boris is a Standardbred. He spends all his days in his cool, dry stable with his mate Banjo. Boris was born in Tasmania and brought to the mainland, where he was trained for harness racing. After injuring himself on several occasions, rather than putting him down, he was given to me. He was three.
Gentle riding, getting the cows in, then taking our two sons to and from school each day in my jinker, a round trip of about 10 Ks-- these trips were filled with excitement and adventure. There was this damp section of road the kids used to call Boris's shying puddle, because he used to leap sideways across the road every time we went past it.
I spent many hours riding through the bush on Boris. His stride was long and swift. One day, we were driving in the jinker when the wheel hit a hidden stump and tipped us over. Thankfully, the harness broke, and Boris raced off. We walked three kilometers home to find Boris standing in his stable.
Originally, I had four horses. Fury, the kids' pony, at 25 became very sick. I still remember that first time I had to make that dreaded phone call. We buried him on our property.
Then there was Little Indian. At 31, he got colic. I stayed with him all night in the stable with the vet coming and going. Finally, the vet said, there's nothing more we can do for him. I walked around and around the driveway, crying and crying, with the phone in my hand, not able to dial that number.
I will hold forever the wonderful memories of my boys. When the time comes, I hope Boris will simply lie down and pass away. I don't want to have to make that dreaded phone call again. It doesn't get any easier.