“I wasn’t looking for a horse at the time, yet when my eyes met his, it took one second for me to know that he was coming home with me,” Sara Ruggerone, a San Luis Obispo County native, tells us the story of “Huey”, a.k.a. “Mission Impossible”, her beloved Arabian.
“We had quite the life together,” Sara recounted. “We competed through 3rd Level in Dressage, jumped Cross Country obstacles for fun, rode the trails, and his favorite thing was to simply canter down the beach. Huey was amazingly wonderful, and incredibly difficult at the same time. He made me work hard, which in turn made him work harder. He was a giant at 16.2 hands, and looked more like a Warmblood with a beautiful head than an Arabian.”
Huey’s health declined early in life, yet he enjoyed his last 10 years being a pet. “Huey would gallop the fence line whinnying as I drove up,” Sara recalled. As Huey’s health problems increased, Sara began to think about his transition and after-life care. Burial was not an option on the property, and she wanted a more dignified ending than the Tallow Truck. Several of her small animals had been cremated, so she began to research that option. Eden Memorial Pet Care kept popping up in her searches. She asked her mother, who managed a small animal practice, about Eden, and her reply was, “Go with Eden. They are great”!
The idea of letting go of any animal is difficult, but with a horse, things can be particularly devastating. When a horse and rider truly become partners, the ending of that partnership is painful, and, let’s face it, it’s just not as easy to logistically plan for a dignified death with an animal of such size.
We worry and fret over how our beloved friend is going to handle the transition itself, and on top of that, how we can possibly give them something better than the traditional “disposal” methods. This is why Eden Memorial Pet Care is such a blessing to the equine community of San Luis Obispo County.
“Eden helped me feel comfortable about after-life plans by explaining the process, and they truly cared about my horse even before he was gone,” Sara explained. “The morning we made the decision to have the vet put him down, I kissed his face for the last time and then stepped away. The Eden Memorial truck and refrigerated trailer were there quickly. My mother stayed while they handled his body with great respect. In the days following, Eden kept me updated on the cremation process.”
“Huey” was returned to Sara, and Eden gave her many options for containing him. Sara chose a wooden box with his picture on the front, and asked for a plaque with his name. “No request was too difficult,” Sara said. “The box is more beautiful than I imagined; it sits in my room to this day.”
Sara treasures this remembrance box which keeps the memory of “Huey” close and alive. The box is a small token of the ways that her beloved equine friend made her life full, and she is grateful for the years that she had with him. She is also grateful, as are so many others, that she had an after-life plan in place, and that she came upon the good people of Eden Memorial Pet Care, who gave her the compassion that she needed and gave “Huey” the respect that he deserved.
None of us wants to allow our minds to travel to that place where we have to plan for the death and after-life care of our equine friends, but it’s a fact of life. We owe it to ourselves and our horses to make the transition as smooth as possible and the aftercare as dignified as possible. Eden can help with this, and it’s never too early to get educated on the process; life is as fleeting and unpredictable as it is beautiful.
Cover Photo: Eden Memorial Pet Care
Story Photos: Courtesy of Sara Ruggerone