Goodbye Sweet Huck Sweet Huck

The hauler picked him up April 17th and even though he was still my horse, I wasn’t going to be feeding Huck carrots very often anymore. The fact is it would take me about eight hours to drive to Jack and Judy’s ranch in Clements in Northern California. It was hard to say goodbye. So I didn’t. Over the next few months, Judy and I exchanged texts and calls about Huck’s diet (Weight Watchers needed) his social life (Have Mares, Will Posture) and his abiding love of carrots. I figured sooner or later, I’d take off for the weekend and see my sorrel with his new pasture pals.

I was wrong.

Huck came down with a bacterial infection known as Pigeon Fever or Dryland Distemper caused by Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis and had to be put down on Saturday.

In my shock and sadness, I spent the weekend reading about the bacteria that live in the soil and can enter a horse’s body through mucous membranes or be transmitted by flies and that can cause swelling and external and internal abscesses. Most of the time, horses come out of it unscathed, but Huck’s fever spiked as high as 105 and the infection spread. Judy, the vets and the staff at Pioneer Equine did everything in their power to help him heal. For whatever reason, he couldn’t fight it.

I never did get to say goodbye.

Though I wasn’t with him during this time, Huck was always with me. For eight years, I drove to Burbank where he lived at J. Bennett Farms in Stall 14 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, which for a horse is basically The Four Seasons. Wednesdays and Fridays I rode Huck. During those times some extraordinary things took place. For one thing, my confidence blossomed. It’s not like I was an insecure person before I owned him, but the experience of bonding with an animal as personable and patient as Huck just gave me a unique perspective. As Mike Chipko, the man who found this amiable horse for me often says: The World Looks Different From the Back of a Horse.

In Griffith Park

In Griffith Park

Being a mom, which is equal parts rewarding and frustrating, is also a role that can rob a woman of time and her passions outside of her family. I love Mr. UnHollywood and my boys with all my heart. But I also loved that horse. He knew my moods and kept me on my toes. He was the laziest horse in the barn yet he could buck like a bronc when he was feeling good. He played ‘follow the leader’ when my youngest was a little kid, helped a teenage girl who didn’t own a horse to win a Blue Ribbon, had a good mind and always flicked his ears and humped his back when he detected a dicey situation.

Another extraordinary thing about having Huck was that he broke down walls between people. I met new people all the time at the barn and on the trail and made some very good friends. As a mom, finding new friends can be tricky, but being with Huck eliminated all that.

My mom loved Huck, too. At least once a year, she would come to the barn to watch me ride and to give Huck – and every other horse in the barn – carrots. She even rode him in the barn aisle once.

Huck on Skyline

Huck on Skyline

My plan for Huck’s retirement – for him to have open space, buddies to hang out with and to just be lazy if he felt like it did not mesh with the (Wo)Man Upstairs. I just pray there are plenty of mares and carrots in Heaven. Goodbye sweet Huck.

Author Description

Cynthia Baseman

Cynthia Baseman is the author of 'Love, Mom: A Mother's Journey from Loss to Hope.' She writes about motherhood, the environment and education.

There are 21 comments. Add yours

  1. 15th May 2014 | kamiljoen says: Reply
    This is so sad. But I was wondering as I read whether Huck didn't miss you so much that he felt it was no use to put up a fight if his beloved friend was going to be absent in his life. Horses and dogs especially have such emotive relationships with humans, it could well be true.
    • 15th May 2014 | Cynthia Baseman says: Reply
      The bond between our animals and us is profound. Before he contracted dry land distemper, Huck had a heavenly 'retirement' with large pastures, mares to nicker to, and a darling barn pal, a fellow quarter horse. The ranch owners who cared for him are true horsemen who loved him. If there's one thing Huck knew, he was loved.
  2. 5th October 2013 | mamacita says: Reply
    What a wonderful memorial to one of Gods earthly animals. He always will be with me in spirit. I loved him. And I love you.
  3. 3rd October 2013 | Julie Sayres says: Reply
    Beautifully written, CB. Love you so much.
  4. 3rd October 2013 | Roberta says: Reply
    I like the new masthead and format. A beautiful story about you and Huck. I'm so sorry for your loss.
  5. 3rd October 2013 | Elaine says: Reply
    Cynthia: I'm so sorry to learn that Huck has passed. :( You two shared many wonderful times together, so while he may be gone, those memories will live on forever.
    • 3rd October 2013 | Cynthia Baseman says: Reply
      Wise words, and I was very lucky to have him in my life.
  6. 3rd October 2013 | Mike says: Reply
    Cindy. Huck and Sunny will be waiting for you at the bridge. You have given so much love to them and the best care they could have asked for. We never understand why things like this happen they just do. My greatest horse I ever had lives in the pasture right next to where Huck did. Three weeks ago my grandson and I were feeding Huck carrots and loving on him. I am so sorry !
    • 3rd October 2013 | Cynthia Baseman says: Reply
      Sadly, no matter how much we give them, in the end, it never feels like enough. What they give us - and keep on giving - is not something humans are capable of doing.
  7. 3rd October 2013 | DW says: Reply
    Some sweet memories. So sorry for your loss Cynthia. xo.
  8. 3rd October 2013 | Belinda says: Reply
    I loved your stories of Huck. It's so sad. I am so sorry .
    • 3rd October 2013 | Cynthia Baseman says: Reply
      It's been my pleasure to share my stories with you, Belinda. Thanks for the kind words.
  9. 3rd October 2013 | Linda Lewis says: Reply
  10. 3rd October 2013 | Claudette says: Reply
    Dear Cynthia: I am saddened to hear of the loss of your beloved, Huck. He must have been an amazing horse. May God give you strength to be strong and remember the wonderful times that you both shared with one another. Love and Hugs, Claudette
    • 3rd October 2013 | Cynthia Baseman says: Reply
      He continues to be an inspiration, Claudette. Thank you for the kind words.
  11. 3rd October 2013 | Claire Gerus says: Reply
    Cynthia, any loss of a loved one is life-altering. Just know that he came to you for a reason, loved and taught you, and left you a stronger person. You are so lucky to have shared your life with this amazing animal!
  12. 3rd October 2013 | Brookela says: Reply
    :-(( sniff, sniff.
  13. 3rd October 2013 | Hayley says: Reply
    Huck was as lucky to have you in his life as you were to have him in yours. So sorry for your loss and pain. Love you lots, sis.

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