A tribute


Well-Known Member
31 August 2011
Northern Ireland
After all your kind comments yesterday, I thought I would write up a bit of a tribute to our lovely Coop.

After we arrived home from saying goodbye to her, I noticed a piece of jewellery I had carelessly left on the kitchen counter on Friday afternoon, removed moments before I had left to go to the yard that afternoon. I felt a weird jolt; it was out of place, a reminder of “before” and “after”.

Later on in the day yesterday, I almost felt a reluctance to go to bed and sleep, because I felt that in doing so would be leaving her behind in “yesterday”, because she doesn’t get to have “tomorrow”. The brain is a strange thing. But to focus on her death would not be doing her life the justice it deserves.

I knew her for 9 years; my partner had owned her for 10. She was a bright, sparky little mare with very fixed ideas about how the world works. This was a blessing and a curse in equal measure. Supremely athletic, she was also sensitive to a fault and very easily upset. She would have jumped the moon for you, if you had asked. If you’d told her to do it, she might have told you to eff off. Typical mare. Standing at 15.2-ish, compact, she was small but mighty. At 18, she wasn’t especially old in years, but she had worked hard in her younger life. She was here for a good time, not a long time.

Over the years we did all sorts with her. Hacking, forest rides, a bit of dressage - memorably receiving the “very patiently ridden” comment, because she had no time for dressage really - but her real love was cross country. She had the heart of a lion and would give it her absolute all, even with a wimp like me on board. Show jumping was also great fun, though she found it all terribly exciting and was a notorious four faulter, as she gained more and more speed as she flew round... as one instructor commented, she would have made a fabulous eventer, if only she had more tolerance for the dressage.

I won’t pretend that between us, we set the competitive world on fire because we didn’t. Instead, we just enjoyed ourselves, and within local riding club circles she became (in)famous for her firecracker ways. She was great fun.

As work and life started to consume more of our time, we did less and less ridden work with her. She was an all-or-nothing sort of horse and that translated to her working life - ride every day, or not at all. The not at all suited her well, and a couple of years ago she was informally retired, staying on at the same livery yard as my own older boy. We would occasionally saddle up for a potter around the arena but as middle age crept in, so too did that infamous middle-aged spread and she became a little too round for her saddle, so we sold it, half intending to replace it at some stage.

Last January her retirement status was more or less sealed when we bought a 3rd horse. We had never planned to have 3, thinking we would let the other 2 live out their retirement and getting a 2nd horse whenever one of them passed on. We were in no hurry, for our two retirees were easy to keep, and we love having them around. What I’d give now to have 3. We had thought about getting her a saddle again this year, so that we could hack out together with her and the newbie. That sadly wasn’t to be.

Coop was a funny little horse. We always had to turn her out in a headcollar because she could be impossible to catch at times. Once, I had to catch every other horse in 3 adjacent fields before she deemed it acceptable to be caught. Aside from that, on the ground she was foot-perfect and with impeccable stable manners. However, quirky as she was, she seemed to have a list of people she would happily interact with; like a gremlin exposed to water, she was an absolute lunatic with others. This was something I was never able to 100% get on top of, so her interactions were mostly limited to those select few, which thankfully included the farrier & vet. We didn’t mind though. We loved her as she was.

On the evening of Friday 7th May, she came in from the field as normal - had her small bucket of feed, and started eating her net. As I got into the car and phoned to order a takeaway, our friend came running out to say something seemed amiss; she had just went down in the stable. We got her up and took her to the sand arena to walk her while the vet was called. Initially, it felt quite innocuous. She seemed gassy and although in pain, she was in fairly good form. The vet examined her and felt we should see improvements within a couple of hours.

Those couple of hours came and went and the situation started to feel more serious. The vet came out again and administered fluids and drugs. She was starting to show signs of being in a lot of pain. At around midnight, she was given what she needed to keep her comfortable through the night. Our yard owner offered to keep an eye on the CCTV and promised to text if she saw anything unusual. Unfortunately she did. Within a few hours of the vet leaving, she was very unsettled. By 5am, I was back at the yard. She was very tired and clearly struggling. We knew at this stage that we were not going to win this fight.

The vet came back and examined her. We didn’t need to say much. We all knew what was coming next.

Coop was a coloured horse and a few inches down her neck, her mane changed from black to white. This mix of colours was always my favourite part to plait. I stroked her neck and gently braided it. I knew I would want to keep that.

Yesterday morning was cold and drizzly. Our friend and our yard owner came over and they stayed with her while we said goodbye. I knew they’d be kind to her as she passed. At the last minute, I decided I would stay too. I kissed her muzzle and told her we loved her.

We are very fortunate that we still have our 2 bay boys. For them, it is business as usual. They don’t have a clue about what happened, so it was back up to the yard yesterday to sort them. Friends had kindly mucked out their stables, and had turned them out for us as the wet weather gave way to a bright sunny afternoon. Coop’s stable was conspicuous in its emptiness. She’s no longer there physically, but her presence will be felt and she will be missed forever.

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Silver Clouds

Well-Known Member
1 October 2018
What a pretty mare. It sounds as though you had a lovely relationship with her, and you describe her character so clearly. I hope things start to get easier for you as quickly as possible, it is awful loosing horses you are close to.


Well-Known Member
26 November 2018
Oh, what a lovely tribute to your beautiful girl. By the time I reached the end and saw Coop's photograph, tears were running down my face.

You have some lovely memories to cherish. Thank you for sharing them with us all. X


Well-Known Member
23 November 2019
She was so lucky to have an owner that understood and loved her quirks!
A beautiful mare.
Its wonderful you have lovely support from your yard, they all sound like gems.
Big Hug xx