Saturday, March 10, 2007

Don't Ask Me Now

This is a pastel painting of 'Bear' a Clydesdale gelding owned by my long time friend Ansley. Bear's acquisition came about largely because of Ansley's experiences with his gentle predecessor, a Clydesdale stallion by the name of 'Springdale's Benedictine Prince' .
I remember when Prince arrived at the farm.
He was a rescue... and was headed for the slaughterhouse. He'd been passed from one owner to the next and was at least three hundred pounds underweight... and very couldn't stand down wind of him. The source of the odor was soon discovered. Clydesdales and some other draft horse breeds have very long thick leg hair called feathers and sometimes, especially in unsanitary and humid conditions, a skin fungus can develop in those areas. If left untreated, tumor type growths develop and they in turn can interfere with tendons in the legs and cause a serious get the idea...No one wanted to deal with his problem.
Prince was a beautiful horse, gentle and easy to work around even though he was a stallion, but he needed immediate attention health wise. He was cleaned up, put on a diet to fatten him up (he had no neck and you could see every bone in his body) and then the focus turned to treating his legs. They were shaved, then a regimen of scrubbing the affected area daily with disinfectant was started. This treatment continued until Ansley and her vet realized it wasn't enough... so surgery was discussed and then scheduled. The decision to operate wasn't taken lightly by any of the parties involved. There were a lot of growths to remove on each leg and he would be sedated for a long time. Any kind of surgery for an animal that weighs about a ton is tricky. There was no guarantee that he would recover...but he did..with flying colors I might add.
Prince turned into a big handsome boy with a powerful neck and a thick long mane and forelock. Ansley trained him to drive and rode him occasionally too. He enjoyed viewing the mares on the farm ..a little too much perhaps, so he was gelded..also a very dicey procedure for an older horse.... but he came through that too.
Prince lived a contented and comfortable life for many years after...until something unthinkable happened. One day when Ansley had invited friends for a drive with him.... he collapsed on the way home... and died in his traces.
There was a big hole to fill in Ansley's heart.....his name is Bear..
This painting was accepted into the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine's 20th International Exhibition called, 'Animals in Art'.

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