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Goodbye, Jackie.

Today Jackie made it obvious that it was time to say goodbye, and she was laid to rest this afternoon at Dakota Large Animal Clinic. Even with all the treatments we tried for her gut issues, she just kept going downhill and today was time.

What do you say about our grand old lady, Jackie? So many people would leave after their first or second visit saying "I don't really like Jackie" but a month or two later would admit that she had quickly become a favorite. This big, strong alpha mare who had the longest pregnancy ever 8 years ago - going over 400 days and delivering in December - was an undeniable presence. Every horse that lived with her stayed out of her way, and she was the one horse we warned people to watch her hind end, as one of her favorite tricks was to kick Nina every six months or so. Though it's been a very long time since she did that, this morning she gave a half-hearted kick when Nina was asking her to get up, just to remind her of their special relationship.

Jackie, a registered solid Paint named Skipa Cash Prize born in 1993 (making her 27 now), had her first foal as a 3-year-old and had many big, beautiful Paint babies after that. She lived the majority of her life with a stallion and all those babies took a toll on her as she developed arthritis in her hips. Trims were hard on her, and farrier trips required a vet visit, heavy sedation, and a farrier who never lets horses lean on him calling her "Mama" and telling us not to worry about her lean. As strong as she was she just had a way of touching people.

Jackie spent the majority of her time at GSH heavily bonded to Tommy, who was lost nearly exactly a year ago. She grieved hard, and started to build her bond with Dudley ... who was also lost to old age last summer. Since then, she has been aloof and not gotten close to any other horses, and was typically off by herself. Over the last few months she's had intermittent loose stools and slowed down, and her beautiful face showed her age. Her loss leaves a very large hole in the herd.

She went downhill so fast, yet we've been fighting for a few weeks, so this isn't coming out the way I want it to and doesn't feel nearly emotional enough. But the pain will come, tonight when we bring in the seniors for night feed and she doesn't barrel her way in; when we do our review of the senior pasture and don't see her off on her own; when we open the remaining bags of Purina Senior Active bought just for her and feed them to someone else.

At the same time, she was so tired today, and so ready, that there was no question that it was her time. Tonight we imagine her in our Greener Pastures, with Tommy by her side, healthy and strong and forever safe and at peace.

She will be greatly missed.

Run free, Jackie, and rest easy.