Jen Mellace: Summer's End

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It's hard to believe this summer is coming to an end. Each year seems to go by faster and faster. This summer was definitely a bittersweet one. After a beautiful long spring, I made the very difficult decision of putting my older horse (Ben) to sleep. He had various health concerns that were untreatable and were only getting worse. I decided that before something terrible happened, and before the very hot/buggy weather came in full force, I would say goodbye.

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I had Ben for 17 years. My first horse?my heart horse?who can never be replaced. We did a lot together and he taught me so much. I will always be grateful to him for that. I hadn't ridden Benny since 2009 (I retired him because of his arthritis), but he was more than happy to spend the last few years turned out with his buddies, and I was more than happy to just dote on him. While saying goodbye was THE hardest thing I've ever done, I know it was for the best, and I'm thankful that he didn't have to suffer a difficult end.

For horse owners, our ultimate goal is to keep our horses happy and healthy for as long as we possibly can. I recently finished writing a piece for the October issue of DT on how to keep your aging dressage horse healthy, and when to know if it's time to retire him. Making this decision requires informed decision-making and a bit of intuition, and thanks to expert insight from equine veterinarian Dr. Barb Crabbe, DVM, owner of Pacific Crest Sporthorse, U.S. Equestrian Federation "R" dressage judge, Cindy Sydnor and U.S. Dressage Federation certified instructor faculty member Vicki Hammers-O'Neil, I was able to write knowledgeably about this subject. Don't miss "One Last Salute" in the October issue (p. 52). And be sure to enjoy the last few weeks of summer. Autumn will be here before we know it!

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