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Goodbye, Dudley.

Another of our seniors decided it was time to move on to the herd in the sky tonight. Twenty-five year old Dudley was found, gone, in the shelter at evening checks tonight. He showed no signs of struggle or pain, just simply laid down and died.

That's two of our seniors that have done this in the past six months. With several horses 25 and older, we've known we were headed for a rough time, but we're not sure yet if it's easier to know they simply died naturally or if it's somewhat easier for us to go through something obvious like colic. Obviously, for the horse, this is the absolute best way. No pain, no fear, no trauma, simply a slowing down and quiet passing.

It doesn't necessarily make it easier for us, however, as we struggle with wondering if we missed something, if we could have done something. But no, he was good just last night, took treats, was with friends. Some slowing down the last few weeks, yes. A change in friends - our herd boss was by his side excessively the last few days - yes. Jackie, who had moved on and was with Mona and Albert the last few weeks while Dudley had his harem of young mustang girls, had rejoined him the last few days as nearly all of his girls, except Peggy, moved on. They knew it was coming.

Tonight we moved him to the spot where he will be buried in the morning. We are grateful to be on our own property where burial is now an option. Several of his friends stayed with his body this afternoon. The entire herd came up as we moved him and every single horse paid their respects ... led by Jackie, who has not yet left his side. She struggled to leave Tommy too, who was her best friend for years, and now has to say goodbye again. Good thoughts for her, please. We'll watch her extra close.

In the comments, I will share a snippet of video of the herd. I don't believe that I got Dudley on the video, but it's in the comments just in case. They moved me to tears tonight, but also made me smile, to know that our "Studly Dudley" ... who came to us nearly two years ago as an unhandled stallion with little socialization skills ... was such a loved member of the herd. He was smart, took great care of his daughters Raven and DeeDee until he trusted that we would take care of them, and then just made a space for himself in the herd. He has spent the summer happy on pasture with many friends. And he died quietly without pain.

I don't think we can ask for much more for any of our horses.

Run free, Dudley, in Greener Pastures with so many loved horses who came before.