I've mentioned my dearly departed gelding but haven't gone into detail... well, now you get more details than you wanted. If you want, you can skip to the bottom of this post and just watch the video, it pretty well sums things up.
Feb '07 - Barn owner (not River's barn owner) got a call from a local trainer about a young Thoroughbred he'd gotten off the track. The horse was a bit off and the trainer wasn't interested in coddling him. Barn owner mentioned it to me and said the horse would be free, I said heck yes get him! I was there when he arrived, my first words upon seeing him were "ooooh, I like him!" Horse was Imafavoritetrick, a 2001 OTTB. He didn't have a barn name, I came up with "Wilson" (after the character from the TV show House) and fought tooth and nail for it for about two weeks before the barn owner (and his owner) gave up and let me name him Wilson. He had a big knee and was lame on it, but perfectly happy.
April/May '07 - We took Wilson for x-rays. We took him off the trailer, and the vet took one look at him and said "oh, this horse is screwed." (Yes, that's a direct quote.) He did x-rays and his verdict was, well, it wasn't the worst knee he'd ever seen--the implication of course being that it was darn close. Vet said go ahead and turn him out, nothing you do is going to make him any worse. So he got turned out and I even rode him a bit.
Toward the end of the summer, he was doing well. On his good days, he was nearly sound. I kept hope that the vet would be wrong and he'd get better.
(He was a shooting star for Halloween.)
Feb/March '08 - New vet, new x-rays. This one's diagnosis was Wilson would have to be put down fairly soon and should be kept in a stall with as little movement as possible to avoid aggravating the knee and making it worse. After a few days of crushing disappointment, we basically decided to ignore that vet. If his life is going to be dramatically shortened, then he was going to enjoy his life. Wilson was already my spoiled little baby boy, so he got even more spoiled.
July '09 - Long story, I bought Wilson for $1. He moved to another barn for a few months and then moved in with my mare (not where she is currently).
Fall '09 - New vet, new x-rays. Showed him the old ones, he asked if I really wanted to bother getting new ones. As expected, the knee is terrible, lots of arthritis and stuff. Keep him on bute to keep him comfortable, be prepared to make a decision in the foreseeable future.
Fall '10 - Same vet, new x-rays, this is bad, he's going to need to be put down soon. Keep him on bute and hope for the best, be careful in the winter.
He got to spend quality time with the cows.
Spring '11 - Mare had her baby, Wilson was having fits about not being able to be with her and see the baby. Developed an abscess in his good front foot, horribly lame. Got it drained, abscess in a hind. At this point, it's not looking good. Treating the abscesses is a nightmare because he can't bear extra weight on his bad leg, the pain was too bad.
June '11 - Set up a vet appointment to see what's going on with these abscesses. I know he won't last a lot longer, but hoping we can keep him going through the summer and put him down before winter. Finally decide he can't keep doing this.
June 3, 2011 - My baby boy is gone.
Why does all this matter? Wilson was the first recently off the track TB I'd ever met. He was my baby from the moment he stepped off the trailer. He came from the same track as River. He was sweet and wonderful and a jerk to other horses. He was the first horse I named, the first horse I owned, the first horse I put down. So much goes back to him. I don't know what things would be like if I'd never had him. I don't think I'd have ever gotten River if I hadn't had Wilson.
I love you, baby. I'll see you later.