Welcome to Oakley's Rainbow Bridge Memorial Residency

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Memories of Oakley

I got Oakley back in 2000. I decided I was going to get me an arabian because I love the beauty, personality, energy, and intelligence they possess. After purchasing him in Maryland, we started on a good note. Then things got rocky. Soon we moved to sunny Florida. Things still were rocky between us. Then along came a natural horsemanship program that best suited us. That's when things changed for the good. And our relationship went from rocky, bumps in the road, to soaring new heights. On a much more positive, natural scale. In 2004, we went to our first class course in Ocala, FL, studying a natural horsemanship program together. It changed our lives forever within those two weeks we've attended. I learned to be the better, wiser, savvier partner for my boy, Oakley, and he became more trusting, confident of me. Started seeing me as someone who can protect him, keep him happily content, mentally, emotionally, physically. We did lots of things together. Took a few more courses in 2005 and 2006. And throughout our journey together we have learned incredible abilities through love, language, leadership in equal doses. He soon became soo trusting and attached to me, that he allowed me to do many things. In fact we learned to do amazing, incredible things. He's learned to walk across a bed mattress, step on a pedastool, go under a car wash obstacle, crossed a bridge, hop up and down a big box thing, and then came the point he even allowed me to ride him bareback and bridleless. Liberty riding. It was my dream come true. To search for a trust worthy horse to learn from, who's taught me so many things, and despite our differences in the past, he's learned to trust me, see me as a good leader, value me as his one true friend for life. Many colic episodes have come and gone, but he's always looked to me for the safety and comfort and companionship he desires so much that he was unable to recieve from my other horses who didn't quite value his companionship as much as I have. Oakley is a very extroverted horse, he loves to play, loves to please, carried a lot of pride on his dear sweet whithers of his. He would always neigh loudly for me every time I walk out the door and he sees me. Every time we have a good session, he would always let me know how happy and excited he'd be or get when he see me next. And even during our playtimes when I give him praise, he'd always look at me with perky forward ears, his eyes soft, gleaming, and he softly nickers to me, as though to say "Yay! My mom's happy, I'm happy!" So once our relationship got going realy strong thanks to the natural horsemanship program that saved us both from a terrible ongoing ordeal, Oakley would prefer my companionship over the other horses'. I don't find a horse like Oakley very often and learn to be the better person for him so I can be what Oakley always dreamed of me to be. And I fulfilled his greatest wish. Someone he can feel safe with, trust, have confidence in, play with and ect.. and be a horse without feeling wrong for it. A true best friend he saw me as. Then we finally got to show our most memorable moments when we were selected to participate in a Parelli Spotlight slot. The natural horsemanship celebration spotlight took place in Lakeland, Fl. And Oakley and I were among the chosen to perform. We participated in the Freestyle riding class. I wasn't quite sure how things were going to turn out once we got there for the three day event but I soon learned how trusting my boy is. how much confidence he showed in me. We got there, got settled in, and despite the enviroment, Oakley relaxed and was content having me with him. It was a great adventure. His very first show and one that I wanted to make as pleasant and positive for him as possible. He blew my mind away by how much cofidence and trust he showed me. We got to ride in the riding arena a couple nights, and there was about fifteen to twenty other riders, but it never bothered him. He stayed relaxed because I was there and he was content with having some interesting tasks to do. It was tons of fun. I got to ride him in my western saddle and then another night with a bareback pad on and he did great. Such a trusting, beautful, relaxed partner he truly has become. Then, with the bareback pad on, I asked him up onto the pedastool that was out for the riders to play with. And it was his second time on it. I played with him with it for two hours, took my time and let him figure things out and he finally got it. And it was a piece of cake for him when I asked him up on it with me on top. He is an amazingly confident little guy who I love so much and he loves me so much in return. Next morning is when we actually got our chance to perform. We didn't do a lot, just some basic things I was content with and so was he, I didn't want to make him do anything he wasn't ready for yet. And I failed to mention sooner that 10 days before our showtime moment, we were practicing the canter. I had just asked him for the canter and he went into it. About 3 - 4 strides into a nice relaxed canter and he hits a spot sandy spot in my pasture we were riding in. He slips and fell onto his left side, completely. I never left the saddle my balance was that well anchored. But my left leg did get caught between his body and the soft sand ground. Needless to say I badly damaged some blood vessels in my left calf. Plus, my leg was really sore for awhile. However, the most intriquing part was Oakley never panicked during that fall. He just casually got up, shook the sand off and stood there, lookin for me. I called to him and he looks down at me, eyes and ears locked and he comes nickering for me as he walks over to me. I managed to get back up, once realizing my leg is not broken. And we called it a day. But after such an accident, Oakley showed me he's loyal to those he cares most about. He cared about me. Same thing happend again after I took a tumble off my quarter horse mare, Reba, once unfortunate friday. That was way before the celebrations spotlight Oakley and I went to. And after my fall from my QH mare, Oakley comes over, starts sniffing me all over, like to motivate me up onto my feet, checking me to see if I'm ok that I need to get up. And he stayed with me all that time during my struggle to crawl up onto my feet by using the fence line to help me get back up. Now that was a worse fall from my QH mare, which left me badly bruised in my lower back and a small fracture in my back bone spike things. Oakley stayed with me, and checked on me a second time during my struggling walk back to the house. What a wonderful horse to show how much he cares for this human -- me! I could hardly believe it. I expected him to care more about his hay pile and his buddies, but... he's surprised me big time. And so many more times too. Now, back to the spotlight... my bruised back has since healed, but I still had a bruised calf leg to deal with. But Oakley did fantastic, never wigged out in front of the hundreds of people watching, or loud music, ect.. he knew he's got tasks to do and he loves to please. So.. we did well considering, and brought him a ribbon. All participants get a ribb for being natural with their horse and I was so happy to have made the experience a very good one for Oakley and I think he showed me he also enjoyed the time, too. Time spent with me. Going on adventures. It was an awesome adventure in Lakeland. We both learned how to get up onto the pedastool, with me using only but two carrot sticks, a much more advanced riding task, in level 4 riding. So, I was ecstatic Oakley did very well, and i think he also enjoyed showing off what he can do, too. People applauded and it never bothered him. It was like nothing to him. He just was happy I'm there. After our good morning show, I put him back in his makeshift pen, and let him relax, gave him winnies cookies, and hang out time. And we also got a chance to have gotten him a beautiful new saddle. One he told me he very much loved the instant we put it on him. We had the good fortune of trying the english fluidity saddle out on him while he and i were there, we went for a test ride in it, and he just loved it. Way much more relaxed than my western, and it was comfy for us both. We had a great time getting a new saddle, too. As a treat for us both. And that concludes our awesome journey together in Lakeland. At home, we had also purchased a pedastool, got that home, and Oakley and I got to playing with it. He soon loved it so much that he's learned to step up on it at liberty. No halter or lead rope, just my carrot stick and body language. And he's loving the pedastool toy I also got for him. He loves toys. He's learned to jump over poles with me on him and it was a great discovery. I was having so many things I wanted to do more with Oakley and that Oakley loved doing more playtime and all. But, sadly, our journey came to a very tragic, abrupt end, about five months since the Lakeland show in October 2009. He came down with colic in March. March 1st. And my mom was out of town, helping my dad. So I was alone, by myself. And Oakley went into colic. I called my mom, my mom called the vet, and the vet and a friend of ours came to my mum's and I's home. We checked Oakley, I did manage to get Oakley up and walking. And of course my dear sweet friend, Beth, also came by after she got off work to make sure I was okay. So I had a friend, Mark, over, and Beth over, and then the vet. Vet said that Oakley was very constipated and he needed to give my boy some mineral oil and water. Well, that day is the first day Oakley ever got a tube up his nose! I was worried at first because I know most horses hate having objects stuck up their nostrils for any length of time. And wasn't sure how Oakley was going to respond. But bless his heart, him being a full-blooded arabian, hot blooded no less, and yet he's as calm and gentle as a pussycat for the vet. Up goes the tube and in goes the mineral oil he so way needs. Oakley gave me his usual nose blowing and licking and chewing which means he's relaxed, he's off his adrenaline, he's not worried about it, and very accepting of the "toys" we have in store for him. Somehow he knew we were here to help him feel better. So for him, I needed to be mentally/emotionally collected and strong for him. He can feel that and he needs me to be there for him. And he was by far, happy that I was there for him, reassuring him that everything's going to be okay. I didn't get all teary-eyed and panicky. Critters can feel that so I want to be strong for my babies, even if all they have left are minutes. And for Oakley, he only had two days. So upon listening to the vet and trying everything we could to help him feel better... it wasn't enough. I did every single thing by the book, listened crucially well to the vet, did everything and exactly everything he told me to do... but I sadly knew things were getting so bad when my boy Oakley stopped eating his bran mash, and stopped drinking even his ultimate favorite drink, molasses water. It always works because he loves molasses. Molasses in water and he drinks that up like it's a milkshake. Gone. But.. when he wasn't giving me the physical signs he's relaxed and coming out of the painful condition, and he stopped eating/drinking completely, is when I knew this colic was very bad. And the next day, March 2nd, vet came and gave him another tubing. Oakley was a little impatient this time but he still continued being the perfect partner. Politely, calmly, trusting me and these strange objects not known to him or any horse in the wild. He still accepted the tube and allowed the mineral oil and water to get into his stomache. Later that day, vet comes back, and we had to give him extraveneous fluids. He was badly dehydrate from not drinking. So inside my fifteen stall barn, we stood in the walkway. Thanks to my 22 lead rope, we created a makeshift bag holder for the fluid bags. We needed to get a long rope over one of my barn's wooden beams, to be used to hold the bag with. Attached one end of the rope to the wall and then the latch of my rope is used to ya know, hook the fluid bag's top end part thats got the hoop thing on. So we did that, vet puts the needle in Oakley's neck and for well over 2 or three hours, had to stand there with my poor baby, with a needle in his neck, and empty quite a few bags of electrolytes into his system. My poor guy was in soo much pain during these two days. He was shaking, sweating both from pain and cold. We had a nasty, malicious evil coldsnap come through florida. And at night it got down into the 30s. I was so angry at mother nature I could spit fire at her sky!! Needless to say, for the time spent in that walkway, my baby boy, Oakley, showed me just how much trust and confidence he truly has for me. His gentleness is the exact same level as his high energy, exuberance. Very very gentle he showed that day with me and the vet. What a beautiful partner he's blossomed into because I learned to be the better partner for him. I am absolutely devastated and crushed beyond imagination to learn later that night, he didn't survive. After all we done, Oakley stopped his fierce shaking and trembling, and was walking around fine on his own in his pasture I put him back in after the electrolytes have been delivered into his system and all seemed like he was going to make it. He was even trying to go to the bathroom, number one and he did number two quite a number of times, as well. Even he allowed the vet to stick his arm up his rear end to get clumps of manure out to try and help my poor guy out. Oakley never objected. He just wanted me and my human friends to help him feel better, to make the pain go away. So, um, needless to say, we and everyone else who's heard of my boy's condition from worsening to getting better, all thought he'd make a good recovery. But at midnight I came down to the barn, to the pastures to check on Oakley and give him his much needed medicine. I had taken a long nap after the vet came and left around 5 PM. I was mentally/emotionally drained beyond imagination, so I figured with Oakley moving around and trying to go to the bathroom, I thought my job was done enough where I could go get a nap. Waking up at midnight, I got dressed and went to the barn and pastures. The pasture Oakley was in, I called for him. No sound or movement. When I shone my flashlight in the pasture, I saw him, he was down. I tried to call out to him, cheerfully as I usually do, thinking maybe Oakley was taking a rest and he'd perk up at my presence or respond to my voice. When I got close to him, I saw his position was different. His belly was swollen, his left front and hind leg were hanging off the ground. And all his feet were straight out, stiff. My heart dropped like a stone in water. I knew this position. I saw it before. I checked him for vital signs of breathing, mobility and flexibility of his ears, legs, whatever signs I could try and find he was still alive. No. He's... he's gone. My beautiful, grey, baby boy who loves me so much has passed away. He had obviously crashed into the fenceline at some point, because I saw a broken board down, and he fell on his right side. But seeing my horse's body like that, stiff, he was ice cold, not breathing, belly swollen, it was very traumatic thing for me to see. My best friend, my life. It tore me up. And still tears me up since this past March. I of course, love my friend, Beth, who, bless her heart, came out in the middle of the night afte I got done calling my parents, and the vet and informing them of my tragic loss. She and I gave hugs, and she helped me cover my baby boy up with a tarp I got out of the barn. She made the better frien that night. My next door neighbor came over before Beth did. My mom called the neighbor and had her come over to check on me. But my neighbor doesn't understand horses, their psychology, their behavior and ect.. She never has, never will. Ever. Because my inclination at that point after findng my beloved friend's deceased body is to talk about the good things about my boy. That he truly never meant to hurt anybody, he's got a kind soul, and he loves me. But my neighbor goes and says "Well, he wasn't that nice to me. He bit me!" Automatically implying that the spotlight should be on her, and not this tragic event. My boy, Oakley, has always been the outcast among my other horses, and he's mouthy, very playful, but also gets worried whenever a treat is offered and the other horses are not far behind. In fact they always bully him away! So out of fear he can get too grabby with his mouth when treats are present, so... when that stupid neighbor bad mouthed my horse, I ended our friendship asap. I just tolerated her for what little time I had, and then went back to my house to snuggle with my three alive and well, furkitties. When Beth came over, it was a much more comforting experience. She showed more love and compassion for me and my boy, Oakley, than that stupid next door neighbor of mine. I later learned the neighbor was more worried about losing her sleep than anything else and when she got woken up, she was more irritated than compassionate. Plus, she never EVER offered me much shred of compassion either. Which makes it very hard for me to like her to this day. If she's even lucky I still like her! But I was glad Beth came and was there for me. She understands horses, and I needed someone like that while my parents are out of town. For that night my parents were at a hotel, and then they got up and finshed making their way back to the farm. They got here at 7 AM in the morning. And I gone down and collected Oakley's mane and tail before we buried him. I wanted to get his beautiful white mane, tail, and forelock so I can wash it and braid it and do something special like make a memorial frame with my boy's hair. So, yeah, next day, we had him buried. I got what I needed from Oakley, and went back into the house. I didn't want to watch him get buried anyway. My heart was bleeding so much I could not, would not be able to stand watching the burial process take place. God, my heart still hurts. That was my bestest friend and trusting mount I felt very safe being on, bridless and saddleless. He never liked to buck or take off, he always wants me to be anchored on his back, lol. so he's never into taking off. He knew to take care of me because he wanted to. I was his life. And I miss him terribly. He was a very very special horse to me. Vet and my family and Beth all said I did very well, considering the tragic outcome. They said I was very calm, very brave, and didn't panic. I tried very hard to be there for my guys. Even if I just panic and freak out AFTER the loss, I still won't do that while my furbabies are sick or shutting down. I try to be as strong as I can be, at least while they're still alive and breathing. Then, after their bodies expire, then I end up a complete, emotional wreck. I have been for many months now. Still am. Anyways, that sums up my furbaby, Oakley's tale. From living all the way to his final moments.

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