So Long Little Pete, It Was too Short a Run
I’m sure I spent enough time in the Armed Forces to hear every joke and snide remark there was about having two left feet. But five years ago we had a couple little friends born on our place that both had two left feet and when they were trying to learn how to walk it probably wasn’t a far cry from some of us trying to learn to march to someone else’s cadence. They were both Norwegian Fjord horses and we named them Einer and Peter. We enjoyed raising these horses as they are so docile and actually act like big dogs, and the thought when Einer and Peter were born was that they were going to be our pack animals for the foreseeable future.
Both colts prospered and at two years old were everything that we had hoped they would be. But that fall we had a insect carrying disease sweep through our neck of the country called Pigeon Fever. It reminds a person of ‘Strangles’ but it seems to break out on the chest and under belly instead of up on the neck like ‘Strangles’ does. Four of our seven horses had it in varying degrees but the veterinarian assured us that no matter how ugly it was, it would pass in time. Then we noticed Peter, who we thought had escaped it, his legs were swelling and he just stood in the pasture looking despondent. Unfortunately Peter evidently had it internally and wasn’t able to get rid of the poisons. After about three to four months of treating him with massive doses of antibiotics and other medications he began to come around.
For the next two years he seemed to do well. The only two things different that we noticed was that he never seemed to get fat like the other horses in the summer on grass, and it seemed his growth was stunted. Because of this last fact he became known as Little Pete and because of all the handling, he got to be a favorite of ours. He was just the right size for packing and was as strong as we would ever hope for.
Then this spring, coming out of winter he never really picked up any weight on grass, in fact it seemed he was getting thinner. When we could no longer ignore this fact we packed him up and made the well known trip to see Frank the Veterinarian again. Frank is the best in the business when it comes to horses as far as I’m concerned. He was flabbergasted when he saw Little Pete. He took samples of some lumps, of blood, of other tissue and put him back on antibiotics, just in case. What came back was that he now had an autoimmune disease that is most often found in dogs and not in horses, so Pete’s luck was still running to the bad side. He put him on medication for it and there seemed to be a few days of reprieve and then things turned south again. More tests, more medication and this time the verdict needed some decisions to be made. He had a type of Leukemia found in horses. I don’t know how one little horse could have so much bad luck in his short life, but that was Little Pete’s lot.
When I led Little Pete on his last ‘swaying shuffle’ between the corrals, the other horses didn’t seem to pay us much mind. They seemed to leave the emotional hurt to Little Pete’s human friends. No more visions of him packing out the elk and the deer from trips in the wilderness or even off the hill from behind our place. No more good natured bantering for a chosen space of ground. Sue has a lasting mark to show Little Pete had won once. No more good morning greetings from Little Pete’s pen. We miss the little bugger, but it can be said, ‘that’s life’. He drew the short straw on luck and life, but he had the heart of a lovable champion.