Loving Rocky

I could feel myself closing up, shutting down.  But that’s not how I want to be, It’s what I used to do, an old way of dealing with pain.  Do just the opposite I thought, you know what it feels like to hide from the pain, try something different, open yourself up to it.  I can’t hide from pain it finds me eventually, one way or another.  But I don’t have to dwell in it either, I can let it pass through me, feel it in every way, then let it leave.

So as I stood next to Rocky, instead of being distant and cheerful,(a trick I learned a long time ago)  I opened my heart to him and listened.  “I’m too old for this” said the voice in my head.  Was it Rocky’s voice? Had I listened and heard? Is this what animal communicators do?  Or was it my voice, what I thought about Rocky.  Was it my gut instincts, my intuition or just me trying to make myself feel better.  Projecting my feelings onto this old horse.

Since the first time Simon the donkey, kicked Rocky the 34 year old blind pony, when we put them in the same pasture I began to be careful of my thinking.  This is not a bully picking on a kid in the playground, I reminded myself, these are two equines working out how to live together.  And when I began to think of how much we had done to make Rocky more comfortable, giving him shelter, good hay, grooming, love, veterinary care, I also thought of what he lost.  His old routine walking  the paths that he knew even though he couldn’t see them.  Drinking fresh water from the stream and grazing the the far pasture which was now fenced off.  I thought of the old people who opt to stay in their homes rather than evacuate during  life threatening storms.

Was he better off now or before we came?  He’s probably more comfortable in many ways now, but not knowing when you might be kicked or bit or run into a fence can’t feel too good.  When some of the horse experts we knew and trusted said we may have to think about putting Rocky down, that it wasn’t humane to do this to him,  my stomach dropped. And once again, I had to remind myself not to put my feelings and life experiences on Rocky.

It was only about me in that it had become the responsibility of me and Jon to do what we thought was best for Rocky, the donkeys, ourselves and the rest of the farm.  So that’s were we are now.   We spent the past week thinking of our options.  New fences, barns partitions, water and how we would manage it all especially with the winter coming.

But for me,  after thinking it all though, it comes down to the feeling in my gut, and the space in my heart.  To trust our instincts and the knowledge we have acquired by living with these animals.  And for me and Jon to make these decisions together and know we have done the best we could do not allow our hearts to harden.

68 thoughts on “Loving Rocky

  1. Maria,
    I went back in Jon’s blog and read when he first realized that he would live at Florence’s farm. He wrote of Rocky, the magical creature, who led him there. I remember his first pictures of Rocky next to that old, collapsed barn, and his concern for Rocky’s well-being. After he met Florence and heard his story, he grew to respect Rocky and his circumstance. Then Florence passed away, and the possibility of living on her farm came to be. Today, you are on the farm, and you might never be had not Jon saw Rocky standing there that day. I feel you will do what is right for this magical boy. Blessings to all of you.

  2. Rocky looks so peaceful, the peaceful warrior. I loved the picture Jon put up of him, Red and the sheep in the background, Rocky with his big head bent around seemingly looking right at Jon as he took the picture. Darn Simon! He thinks he’s running the show now! There’s Rocky minding his own business, adapting to everything new that’s happening with dignity and resilience and here comes Simon! I love Simon though, the dough head. I’m crossing my fingers for Rocky. Love to you & Jon, Maria.

  3. Oh Maria – it is hard for me to articulate these thoughts without the fear of hurting your feelings, and stepping into waters that i have no business stepping. in. But, I know thatI cannot not say these things.

    This afternoon , I was taking a nap and this is what i was dreaming about . It feels like Rocky is having to suffer because of Simon – This was Rockys territory, his home first, his pasture, etc. Why is he the one to be punished and n0t Simon. I am in no way suggesting that anything happen to simon but it does seem a bit unfair to Rocky .

    Again, I know you and Jon will make the right decision for you both – I know it is a difficult time –

    Wendy Greenspan

  4. Dear Maria,

    First of all, I am sorry that you and Jon are struggling with this. I am sure it is tremendously difficult and my heart goes out to both of you. It goes out, too, to Rocky, and even to Simon, as he is not, after all, deliberately being an “ass,” but rather being what he is … a dominant equine animal out to protect what he sees as his. I can’t help but feel, though, that while I agree that Rocky is probably too old to deal with Simon in any successful way, or one that will lead to the peaceable kingdom you had hoped for, I don’t feel that he is too old to be unable to enjoy life. Obviously what I feel or believe is irrelevant … Rocky is not my pony, not my responsibility. He is yours and Jon’s and regardless of the decision is made, none of the many readers whose hearts have warmed to Rocky’s story as told through Jon’s words and pictures will, or should, have any say in it. Nonetheless, I can’t help myself from humbly asking that no feasible stone be left unturned in trying to find a solution that will both keep Rocky safe from Simon and able to enjoy whatever is left of his long life in your loving care. He seems, from what has been said on Jon’s blog, to enjoy and find some comfort in the presence of the sheep, and clearly he and Red have forged a bond that is nothing short of remarkable. I am not in your shoes, and would not want to be, but at the same time that I 100% agree with Jon that it is not noble or humane to keep animals alive just for the sake of being able to call ourselves enlighted, once a thing like you are contemplating is done, there is no undoing it. I feel that there must be some way that this can be worked out, not with the goal of a peaceable kingdom or Utopia, but with the goal of keeping Rocky safe and allowing him to preserve his dignity. And if there is not, or if it is determined that Rocky is suffering, then I know, or hope, that he will leave this life surrounded by the loving arms of those he loves and trusts. All the best to all of you.

    P.S. I feel I would be remiss if I did not take at least a moment to say how sorry I am about Mother. I have known many barn cats over the years, and by and large my experiences with them have been largely as Jon describes … fiercely independent, and masters of their own destiny. Be that as it may, though, they also are capable of loving just as fiercely, and being loved dearly in return, as I know Mother was loved. It saddens me greatly to think that she is gone, not to return, and I am sorry for you and Jon, as I know how much you must miss her.

  5. I don’t know what to say except this is so painful. I want to run from this pain and know that you two cannot.
    I am so sorry you and Jon are in this position….and I hurt myself as a follower of both blogs.
    So much of my heart just wants to run away and not know the outcome. The smallest part of my heart will
    not let me run away…..not check in…..because Bedlam has my whole heart.
    With Love and so much confusion in my own emotions….I wish you clarity in your decision. xo Virginia

  6. Wanted to come by and give you a hug after seeing Jon’s blog about Rocky.

    I know you are right. It’s because of you both that he can let go now. He had the experience of being loved and cared for and that’s a wonderful ending after so many yrs of neglect.

    I am so very, very sorry that you have these losses to face, and that because of Jon’s courage to be honest, that there are online idiots sticking their nose in. Only you can know what’s right and I trust you both and believe in your decision.

    Wishing you swift healing and comfort in each other and the new life you are building.


  7. Rocky brought you and Jon to your new home. His job is done, mission complete and he is tired. Time to rest. His spirit will forever occupy a special place at the farm and in your hearts.

    Good journey old friend.

  8. Maria, my heart and thoughts are with you and Jon at this time. Sweet Rocky brought you to this farm and he was rewarded with such tender love and caring. Blessings and peace to all of you during this time, no one does right by their animals more than you and Jon.

  9. I am dismayed by this decision.

    Rocky brought the two of you to the farm. Now that he doesn’t mesh well with the changes you have wrought — your existing animal crew — you have decided he is tired. He was tired before, when his farm stood in ruins and his loving owner was too infirm to properly care for him. He was tired when his barn was being built and he needed help finding his way into the new structure. He was tired when he needed a brushing after a long time without one, when his teeth were attended to, though it was painful after a long period of neglect. These were all painful changes for him but ones he bravely met.

    Why is he too tired to live now?

    I don’t know what the woman who died, Rocky’s owner who loved him, would say, but i don’t think it would be good. Rocky is a proud old man and has earned the right to live, and die, on his own terms, much as she did. If you can’t bring enough change (a new fence, a female of his own, whatever is needed) to allow him to live out his dignified days, then you had and have no right to bring any. You should move back to the old farm and leave Rocky alone in peace.

    As a regular reader (not after this though) I am extremely dismayed at what feels like a self-serving conclusion, and I urge you to reconsider.

    1. Lynn do you have any idea how ridiculous the idea of moving back to the old farm is to let Rocky live alone? Did you think about who would feed and water him, Maybe you think it’s more humane to let him stave to death, I certainly don’t.

  10. Maria, as sad as I am for you and Jon I would not want to read about Rocky falling and injuring himself in the impending winter. If he is frail and unsteady on his feet you would be doing him a huge favor,out of love, by preventing that. As Jon says, 34 years is ancient for a horse. As far as euthanasia is concerned, a good friend told me she would rather put her ailing dogs down “a week too early than a second too late.” I have concurred with her when it came time to admit my dogs would never heal from bone cancer but may break frail and damaged bones, creating an emergency situation. Rocky is lucky to have you and Jon to prevent that impossibly stressful event. My sincere and heartful empathy to you and Jon…and Rocky.

  11. I remember one of the ancient stallions that they kept alive on the Arabian farm. His knees were swollen, he creaked when he walked and he couldn’t keep weight on with special hay, grain and supplements. He was a grumpy, miserable old bastard for the last few years of his life. The farm owner was so attached to him that she couldn’t let him go; he would even snap at her in his pain, though he was on anti-inflammatory medication/painkillers.
    Everyone else was so relieved when the vet was finally allowed to put him out of his misery. Thank you for not putting Rocky through that kind of decline.

  12. A I told Jon, everyone won. Rocky led you to your new home; Jon saved Simon’s life; Simon showed you both about love; Rocky gave Red an opportunity to demonstrate his immense heart and sensitivity; you returned Rocky to his Florence. Truly a circle of love.

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