Saturday, April 28, 2012


Lomby the horse didn't make it to see the Winter in his 26th year, but he did see the prettiest, greenest and most bountiful Autumn that we've had here during this young century. On Sunday he was prancing and following me excitedly  up the boundary fence line  as I did some quick repair work, to keep the bull from taking his 'love' to the heifers next door. Lomby loved the action and thrill of a fast-moving ATV with some hay on the back, and he stayed with me like a well-trained cattle dog as I attended to these things- Little did I know that this would be our last  adventure together.

The day before, he grazed our clover/lawn at his favorite places with a halter and lead rope. Putting on the halter transformed him into the most responsive of animals, with an acute awareness of every new detail around him,  I really enjoyed walking him past unfamiliar objects and places- and it defies logic, but he seemed to love having things explained to him, and he would step forward confidently as if  what I said to him made perfect sense. Not many people are so generous.

I often wondered what it was that enabled me to spend and enjoy so much 'hanging' time with him, and how just being there with him made me feel happy. I'm really grateful that the weather and his surroundings were just so perfect for his last months, and I'm really grateful for the times he spent with Nina in particular. They became great mates.

I'm not sure what caused his death, it happened on one of only two days when he was here without us this week, and if I'd been here  I doubt there is anything I could have done except perhaps to make sure it didn't take too long. He seems to have fallen quickly as there is no evidence around him of a struggle to get back up, and I like to believe that his heart gave up and he fell  without complications or suffering.

It's easy to sentimentalize the death of animals because they can be so innocent of the things that sometimes trouble us about people, and the directness and simplicity of our relationships with them intensify our experience of them. The end of life becomes the only certainty of birth, so we shouldn't be surprised when it happens- especially in  a  world that is so cruel for so many.

But I will certainly miss Lomby as much as I would miss a friend, because on some basic level we respected each other and came to an unspoken understanding that I can't begin to describe. On one level I know that his last months were very happy, stimulating, social and comfortable, but on another level I will always feel that my part of the bargain was to keep him safe and happy and because of the nature of life itself, I couldn't come through on the deal. But that is the thing about real joy- it always comes at a price.

His last weeks were spent with mornings camped in the shade with the cattle- him standing sentinel and them gratefully relaxed and secure in his protection. Even the bull was happy to curl up beneath him (his mind was always on more earthy things than safety). So the cows are at a loss, and so are we. This animal that never actually did anything somehow eased his way beneath our skins, and the lack of him feels peculiarly powerful.

We all just have to be careful to put full value on our few days in the sun.


  1. Thanks Michael. Actually, I feel bereft.

  2. Robert,
    You've written a very moving remembrance of a fellow traveler. In some respects, it reminds me of the departure of our dog Skippy after 17 years. Although she and I never actually spoke the same language, she, like your Lomby, often drew my attention away from trivial cares and let me focus on the day we were living together. Whenever she faced into the breeze to note every aroma wafting her way, I did the same and was as content as she. I hope your memories of Lomby bring as many smiles to your face as those of Skippy bring to mine.


    Michael H.

  3. Very kind of you to respond MH, I really enjoy knowing that Doryman and I are on the same wavelength so often, but it is an added pleasure to hear from a new unseen reader. I hear absolutely what you say about Skippy. Your drawing attention to shared contentment is so pertinent, and maybe I should have used that word with or instead of 'happiness'- there is a subtle difference that is worth pondering. I thought I would harden in my responses to death and loss as I matured, but I'm just getting softer.


  4. Rob I am sorry to hear about Lomby
    We lost our cats Tipsy and Tumble after 20 years together last year; they were our friends and family; and we were privileged to have them share our lives and home
    We (us and our children) were there at the end for both of them and that helped enormously. They'd led lazy, contented lives knowing that they were loved and pampered; they shredded curtains, carpets and our vegetable beds; they sneaked under duvets and disturbed our sleep; they monopolised the sofa
    and I never did work out why we spent loads on vet bills food and toys....but it was worth every penny!
    take care

    arwens meanderings

  5. Thanks for your thoughts Steve and for contributing to my little unburdening!
    I saw Lomby into the ground today- it took an excavator (to make a hole big enough for four people..) .but he has been been buried nicely.
    He was a noble and intelligent creature. I was lucky !

  6. Dad, once again you have expressed yourself so eloquently and I relate to everything you have said about this beautiful horse.

    He was indeed a curious fellow and I am sure he listened to you explaining things to him, he trusted you and the bond you shared with him was obvious.

    Losing time with Lomby was a rare treat and such a joy and I will always be grateful for that and also for the hours the three of us hung out together. It was wonderful to share that experience with you dad and I feel closer to you as a result.

    I need to say that I don't feel you failed him in any respect, quite the opposite, because of you and mum he was exceptionally cared for and I feel you did all you could and more for him.

    I didn't know Lomby for long but I loved him and I feel all the more blessed because of him.