LeAnn posted this blog on Sunday, December 26th, 2010 at 8:56 pm

As I always do, Saturday night — Christmas Night — I went to check on my horses before I went to bed. I always give them a little extra grain and some hay and make sure they are all right.

I went down to Isabelle’s pasture and gave her some grain, then I walked up the path to the barn. When I was almost to the barn, I glanced to my left, and I saw something dark laying in the snow.

And right then, I knew.

My old horse Kajun was dead.

“Kajun!” I said.

I started through the deep snow, realized it was too hard to get through, turned around and headed for the barn. I crawled through the fence and went around the other way, noting as I went, that Kajun had eaten the grain I had given him at 5 p.m.

“Kajun!” I said.

But the old horse didn’t move.


I knelt beside him. He was definitely gone. For a few moments, as I made my way through the barn, I had hoped maybe he was just down and not dead, and I had already been planning to race back to the house to call the vet.

Now I knew there was no need.

I knelt beside him for a few minutes, petting him and sobbing.

Eventually I got up and made my way toward the house. Randy was already asleep. He had not been feeling well, and I knew he needed his rest, but I also knew I could not wait until morning and then tell him, “Oh, by the way. Kajun is dead.”

I went into the bedroom, and I believe it was the sobbing that woke my husband.

“What’s wrong?” Randy asked.

“Kajun is dead.”


In two seconds, my husband was out of bed, had put on an extra pair of sweatpants and socks and a sweatshirt.

He pulled on his coat and his winter boots, and we went down to the pasture to see Kajun.

After a while, we came back to the house and sat by the kitchen table, not saying much of anything. It was 4 a.m. before we decided to try to go to sleep. I dozed off and on for three hours. Randy said he never did go back to sleep.

Sunday morning my husband called a friend who came over with his Skid-Steer to dig a hole to bury my old friend. We had to take the fence down to get in there with the Skid-Steer.

It was while Randy V. had part of the hole dug that the next problem occurred.

The Skid-Steer got stuck down in the hole because it was so muddy. We had a lot of rain last summer and last fall, and the ground, underneath the snow and the frost, is saturated.

Randy started our 460 Farmall, and when it was warmed up, drove it around the barn through the deep snow and down into the pasture. I thought that with just a little extra help from the tractor, the Skid-Steer would come out of the hole.


So, my husband and his friend called another friend who has an excavating business.

By early afternoon, we had a Skid-Steer and a small backhoe in the pasture. The backhoe managed to pull the Skid-Steer out. They finished digging the hole, and then it was time to get Kajun.

I had said my goodbyes already and had said a couple of prayers for him, but it was so hard to watch them pick up the horse who had been with me for more than 20 years. The Skid-Steer tipped him down into the hole, and then, ever so gently, the backhoe reached into the hole to position him better.

It seems funny, but people who are skilled at driving big equipment can ever-so-gently pick up a horse and ever-so-carefully lay him to rest.

I took off my glove and reached down into the damp soil to pick up a handful of dirt. I tossed a couple of handfuls over Kajun because I wanted to be the one who started the covering process.

Then Randy and I stepped back and let them get to work with the Skid-Steer and the backhoe.

When Kajun was covered and the equipment was out of the pasture and the fence was put back up, we let Isabelle into Kajun’s pasture. All the while that the big equipment was working in the pasture next to hers, she watched calmly and quietly, eating her hay. She knew Kajun was gone — long before I knew it, I’m sure.

Isabelle ran around Kajun’s pasture, snorting and blowing. But I think she felt more as if she were getting away with something rather than worrying that she couldn’t find Kajun. We kept them in separate pastures because Kajun never was very nice to her. If I let him into the L pasture, he would charge up to the gate by Isabelle, ears pinned back and teeth bared. She would always spin away from him. And once he had made his point, he would start grazing.

By the time I was ready to feed Isabelle at 5 p.m., she was still up by the barn. She can go down into her pasture if she wants, where her shelter is, but she is free to stay up by the barn, if she would rather.

Saturday night when I fed the horses at 5 p.m., I had no idea that it was the last time I would feed Kajun. He ate his grain and acted just like normal. I could see, once it was daylight Sunday morning, that he had been down in the barn and had thrashed around a little bit, but somehow he managed to get up, walk outside, and then had laid down and was gone. It did not look as if he had struggled outside in the snow at all.

Seven or eight years ago, Kajun was diagnosed with a severe heart murmur. You could hear it just by putting your ear against his side. You didn’t need a stethoscope. At the time, the vet thought he might live another six months. He survived for almost a decade. And at the time of his death, he was nearly 29 years old — that’s something like 87 in people years. I finally got a good combination of grain and hay for Kajun, and he was actually putting on some weight. Old horses are hard to keep weight on, but he seemed to be picking up a little bit.

Sunday evening I went outside with Pixie and heard Isabelle blowing her alarm sound down in the pasture by the barn. When horses are alarmed about something, they blow through their noses, a high-pitched whistle that means other horses should pay attention. It’s the same alarm sound that Whitetail deer make. I got a flashlight and went down to check on her. She had been looking out over the hayfield, but when I came to the fence, she turned, walked over to me and stood with her head over the fence. I stroked her neck and talked to her. Eventually she heaved a deep sigh, got three drinks of water, and then began nibbling at the extra hay I had just brought out for her.

Isabelle will have an adjustment period. She is an only horse now, at least for the time being. Horses are herd animals, and it is hard for them to be alone. I will pay as much extra attention to her as I can. It will be an adjustment period for me, too. Kajun, as a Morgan-Arab cross, could be difficult to handle. But he also had his loyalties. When my old quarter horse died 12 years ago, Kajun stood by him and nuzzled him and pushed on him to try to get him to get up again. And then, after Red was buried, and Kajun could not see him anymore, he was inconsolable. Someone had to stay down in the pasture with him all day until he calmed down a little bit.

Well, Kajun, you’re with your old friend Red, now. And with your old friend, Major. And with our dear friend Debbie. Rest in peace, my sweetheart.

LeAnn R. Ralph

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