Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rhino: A Eulogy...

mwali and rhino: monduli: maasailand : tanzania
(all pics by craig doria www.craigdoriasafaris.com)

the horses were poisoned. i don't know. perhaps in the food. or they ate something. one still lives. she is young. she has a hopeful name, Sun Rise. but this one, the one in the picture, called Rhino, didn't.  this was a fine soldier of a horse. he was born in kenya. his official name on his certificate is Taverna. but he wasn't a Taverna. that sounds like a bar. he was a Rhino. he played polo for a long time in kenya. he lived somewhere out on the athi plains, where the winds batter the plains flat. when his legs became tired he was sold to grumeti reserves in the northern serengeti. to do safaris.  he was the brave one. never hesitated.  he was given to me because "he throws his head" and one day he's "likely to smack a client in the nose and we can't be having that." i took him unseen. i had no idea what was coming my way. i knew he was a flea bitten grey and claire told me he had a heart like a lion. 

he travelled by truck through the serengeti, by night, so the tsetses wouldn't bite. i rode him over from Burka Coffee Estate to the Ngorobobs. he spooked at a log on the way and i thought, "humph. lion heart, eh?" tati was my outrider on her new horse,a 16 hand dark bay, Jefferson. it was a hot day. white sun. bare ground and sunflowers to the horizon. he spooked at some maasai women and their donkeys, carrying water in bright yellow plastic containers. i nearly fell off. "lion heart se gat," i thought.

he was the fastest horse i ever rode. sometimes when the bottom field was ploughed, just before the rains, i'd let him gallop home. he was like lightening and at the slightest shift backwards in weight, he'd scream to a halt, dust flyin', hocks deep under his belly, tossing his head high.  he acted in our little play that sunday when gabby and i dressed up as shifta. she was the princess, in hot pink and gold satin with a crown even. and i let her wear lipstick. she rode sirrocco, another fine and sturdy steed gone to greener pastures.  i had to get her through a valley full of swarming hordes of christians. i carried the old musket which corbett gave to craig for...what was it for?... a lake manyara canoe to grow herbs in....? but we have both...? i can't rightly recall. 

rhino and the musket: ngorobob hill:

he became the school master. he faithfully taught all the watoto on the hill to ride. if they kicked too hard he'd trot faster to bounce them off. if they were gentle, he'd canter like a rocking horse.

he bolted with emily at a trot, towards the popadopalous flower farm, through a maize field. he carried safari c 'cross the dust plains in maasailand, chasing zebra. god he was a fine horse.

so it was with deep regret, that on Sunday, i put him down. he had bad colic. i couldn't bare to see him struggle. he wouldn't give up. he'd fall. struggle up. fall again. struggle up. i watched him. 
"now that's a lion heart,"i thought." he's not giving up."
horses are like that. they fight all the way to the end. you want to say, "look. enough. just bloody die now won't you? please?" 
you can't watch an old soldier like that go down rough. i made the call. 
we tranquilized him and when he finally lay his head down, we found the vein and did it.
a horse's soul explodes from the body and leaves it so crumpled behind. 



raise yer glasses one and all...thanks for the rides, Rhino,  babu with a lion heart...



23 comments:

k said...

Oh I am sorry for your loss Janelle. "a horse's soul explodes from the body and leaves it so crumpled behind." This made me weep. It is so true and beautiful. Your words carried me all the way back to my own fine horse. That barely contained, magnificent soul bolting for freedom-wow, your writer's heart does that leave-taking justice. I will sing a song for the young one with a hopeful name. And I will remember Rhino.

Linda Sue said...

I couldn't bear it- you are so amazing! Although I have been around horses a lot in my slice of life I have never seen one be dead. Nearly but not quite.I am so sad for you right now.

nuttycow said...

Oh Janelle - I'm so sorry to read this news. What a horrible decision to have to make (but, ultimately, the right one). How lucky Rhino was, however, to end up as part of such a loving family.

x

elizabeth said...

How splendid Rhino sounds.
How heart broken you must all be.
HUGS.
oxox

Amanda said...

i'm so sorry for your loss - what a strong and fine soul your rhino was. with such a strong bond between you, perhaps look for his ghost cantering through the poppy fields one of these days.

Robyn said...

Rhino has given you many happy memories;he does indeed sound like a lion heart,brave thing.and you are too.

JoeinVegas said...

Oh - sorry for the loss of a friend like that.

Celeste said...

Ouch! I just had a flashback to another time. meeting up with you at Moondogs Bar and hearing of another noble equine spirit stolen from your heart.
I am so sorry Janelle. No words will soothe the pain but big hugs and kind wishes from me to you.
I will look for a splendid grey spirit galloping across the velvet skies when I go out to spot the comet which is passing over us this weekend.

toomuchaugust said...

tears. they come because we say come, we need you. some will say they don't leave until we've learned what they were sent here to teach, but no. right now i don't believe that. this post has me in tears.

xos

Nic Sebastian said...

xoxo

Just Another Savage! said...

Well Hell, too much heartache for me lately. I haven't looked in on you in a while, I bury three dogs this year, Henry buries his old Border Ian last week and now You and Rhino. So sorry to hear your news, in my old age I have began to dread the birthdays of my hounds, they live too short of a time with us.
hugs and kisses, A

Anonymous said...

So glad I checked your blog today - I've missed your writing. And so sorry about Rhino. A beautiful eulogy. Please write more, know that you have fans who depend upon you for inspiration. The beach misses you. SF

Nicola said...

I am so sorry for your sadness. xxx

Jeannie said...

*sobs*

What Possessed Me said...

My heart goes out to you, dear Janelle. You did that noble beast justice with your beautiful tribute. A giant hug from across the world. xo, P.

Janelle said...

dear dear readers and friends..THANK YOU for all your heartfelt comments...yes. he was a grand, grand horse...i loved him. such is life. god. love x janelle

Farasi Safari said...

So sorry vaquera!
I'm back in Tz, hope to catch up soon...x

Farasi Safari said...

so sorry vaquera
i'm back in tz, hope to catch up soon...x

Mark said...

Remembering autumns long ago,
Like leaves we touch,
Until winter comes.

Reluctant Memsahib said...

I'm so sorry Janelle xx

Lori ann said...

:(

sending hugs, love

SafariB said...

fuckit.that sucks.

your eulogy is perfect xx

Claire said...

he did have that lion heart and loved with all of it. thanks for taking on my fast and fearless warrior. and loving him all the more for it. xxx