Earlier this week our sweet former carriage horse Al broke his leg while breaking out of his stall and was humanely euthanized. Al came to Sunshine after retiring from an 11-year career as a carriage horse in NYC. Al was often our go-to horse to welcome groups visiting and to teach new volunteers how to groom and lead. Al was extremely patient and gentle. He was happy to stand for just about anything as long as there was some hay or grass nearby for him to nibble on.
Even though Al was 23 years old he had plenty of spring left in his step. He liked to play with our sweet mini donkey Strawberry during turnout. He would nudge her heels and encourage her to run. Volunteers knew that if you were going to lead Al to turnout you should be ready for a brisk walk, if not a full out run! It was wonderful watching him run through the pasture and roll (even though there were lots of groans when he stood up)! We only knew Al for 2 years but he will be in our hearts forever.
We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love that we received from our volunteers and supporters during the past few weeks as we said goodbye to three of our senior horses (Mouse, Sisko and Scarlett) and to Al this week. This is a sampling of the photos, poems and kind words that were sent to us during the past few weeks.
From Volunteer Martie:
Sorrows pile up
Like the snows will soon.
Al is gone. Scarlett,
Mrs. Murphy’s son.
Our tears fall like the leaves
Blanketing my lawn.
Our tears will dry,
Our sorrows melt
Like distant spring promises
To melt the snows to come.
Yet forever will our hearts
Remember those we have loved
And together continue to
Care for our horses and each other.
We are Sunshine Strong.
From Volunteer Chris:
Until we meet again..
You say that all you have left are memories but this is not so.
You see, when I took leave of my earthly body I left a little something behind for you.
You can't touch it, hold it or examine it, for what I left behind is far too uninhibited for confinement.
I left in your tender care a piece of my soul.
I placed it right next to your own which is quite fitting as we were always side by side in our earthly life together.
I love you too much to have left you with nothing but memories that tend to fade and grow cloudy as the years go by.
I love you too much to have vanished without a trace. How selfish it would be of me to remove love and light from your life.
I understand your tears, each one you shed is testament to your love for me and I am honored and humbled.
But don't forget the good things we shared - remember and smile. This is an honor for me as well.
When you need me I will be here.
Close your eyes, relax, take slow, deep breaths and picture me in your mind.
Shut off the world and your notions of what you think death is and give me a chance.
Look for the subtle signs I send you.
Don't stop being proud of me, I am a friend to be proud of, I am still your friend and soul mate.
Don't memorialize the death of my body but instead honor and celebrate my never-ending life for it is eternal
and forever as is my love for you.
Until we meet again...
(Only part of a very long heart felt poem by Terri Oronato)