Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Recently I wrote a post about our horses here and I also wrote one specifically about our oldest horse Champ here.

As I had written, he had been battling cancer and we knew our time with him was short. Sadly, Champ died yesterday morning. Having to call Ashley with the news was heartbreaking.

Champ has quite a history which speaks volumes about his perseverance, gentleness and forgiving nature. He was raised by a loving family and when those children grew to be more advanced riders, the family donated Champ to a nearby camp where they knew Champ would be ridden daily. Unfortunately, it was discovered that Champ was being abused and neglected at this camp and the family got him back and worked on nursing him back to health. We happened to hear about them looking for a loving family and Ashley had been begging us for a horse, so we drove 3 hours to take a look.

When we got there, I saw Champ, and there was the youngest child (around 3 years old) running around him, flipping his tail and crawling around underneath him, and Champ just stood there. I knew this was a special horse. We talked with the owners and decided he was the horse we had been looking for. It broke my heart when we left to see the children of the family all standing on their front poor with tears running down their faces, but it assured me that he must be pretty special for them to have loved him this much.

Champ was not a "flashy" horse, and I don't think Ashley was instantly in love with him. But you can't help but fall in love with him, and it didn't take long for that to happen for Ashley. He loved attention and was so patient and gentle. Ashley spent hours in the barn and it wasn't long before we knew they had developed a special bond. She often referred to him as her best friend because she could tell him all her secrets and she knew he'd never repeat them to anyone.

This picture below shows Ashley helping out a little girl. It was the girls first show and she was really struggling with getting her little horse to cooperate. Ashley rode out, and Champ let her slowly side-step close enough so she could get ahold of the reins and help the little girl. That's how patient he was. The little horse was flitting around, but Champ just stood there. Nothing fazed him.

Champs cancer is not something he just got a couple of months go. The vets told us that this is something he's probably had for at least a year or so. I believe God knew how much Champ meant to Ashley. I also believe he knew how much it would mean to her to finish out her 4-H horse showing career with him. She showed him for the last time this past July. In August she moved to college and in September we started noticing him getting weaker. I believe God granted Champ to have the strength to be well long enough for them to have this past Summer together. He knew it would be hard for her to lose him, but at least she would have the memories from that last show. For that we are so grateful.

Enjoy your time at the Bridge ol' boy.
And know that you were very loved.


DidiLyn said...

Oh, I am so sorry about Champ. I don't have any eloquent words to express my sympathy to you all, but I will say a prayer for you today. I'm glad you had him for so long.

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

Oh, my heart. I think he was beautiful in many ways.

Theresa said...

I'm so so sorry Dena to hear about Champ. I called Ashley today to let her know I was thinking about her. It's not easy loosing someone you can 'tell all your secrets to'... my day is coming with Duke and this just brought it all too close for comfort! My heart goes out to you and to Ashley... I'm sure as hard as it was on Ashley, it was not easier on you watching her go through it! Prayers up!
Love you sis!

Becky said...

I'm so sorry Dena. You and your girls gave Champ the best life. I read a sign just today that said: "Every horse, at least once in its lifetime, deserves to be the love of a little girls heart. " It made me think of the stories you shared about Champ. You gave him that.

Dena said...

Thank you all everyone. I love our horses from a distance because honestly they are so big that they scare me. Champ however was different and I wasn't scared of him at all. He was a special horse.