Does anyone ever make this decision without the heaviest of hearts?
The time has come to send our beloved Tankman to heaven's herd. He's 30 now, and suddenly failing. So rather than put it off for our own emotional sake, and risking a death with suffering, we have scheduled his euthanasia and burial for this Friday.
That gives us about 50 more hours to spend with him.
The picture is from the last time I rode him, which was at the end of November. At that point, he was still defying the odds, eager and able to go for a half-day's ride over hill and dale. I'm glad we had the camera along to capture that day's happy moment in time.
There is something excruciating about scheduling a horse's exit. The ticking of any clock suddenly seems a hundred times louder, and gets mixed up with the sound of your breaking heart.
But there's something precious about it, too, because you get to say your goodbyes while your good horse is still on his feet and able to receive your last, pampering love-tokens.
Lots of brushing.
All the carrots he can eat.
Extra helpings of his grain.
Turnout with his favorite buddy.
Those grieving tears you leave on his neck.
Tank came into our lives as a free horse, given to us by the friend who decided it was time to retire him from the rigorous life of a rodeo rope horse.
On Friday, we will pay the true cost of having him come along to bless our lives.
We'll allow his needs to come before ours, and let him go with as much honor and dignity as we can muster.
The price of which seems, right now, to be the equivalent of at least a million dollars.