Copper (Copper So Smart)

Chestnut Quarter Horse gelding (approx 15 hands); born 3rd January, 2001

Grief. That hollow, empty sensation we feel when we experience death or loss. A loss of a loved one, or a job, a dream or even physical capability. It can leave us with a sense of hopelessness. As humans we know that grief is a part of life. To dare to live and love means that one day we will also experience loss. But it’s not just humans who grieve…

In August 2019, our herd of six was joined by a new horse – Copper – a handsome chestnut quarter horse gelding. Copper had spent the past six years or so sharing his life with an aged mare. Sadly due to numerous health issues, which left her in pain, the decision was made to end the mare’s suffering. Rather than Copper spend his days on his own, we agreed to let him join our little “band of brothers.”

We had all decided that it was important for Copper to say “goodbye” to his former companion. For over three hours, he stood guard over her body, before leaving, so I assumed, to have a drink or water. At this point, we decided to walk him over to our place, to join his new family.

Copper’s grief though continued. Not only was he now missing his companion, he found himself on the wrong side of the fence. For the next 24 hours, he paced along the fence line, looking towards his former home and the hill where his companion took her last breath.

As humans, it was difficult to watch. We wanted so much to ease his pain –  to explain to him, that everything would be okay. But it wasn’t just us who knew something was wrong. Our herd of horses also seemed to know that something wasn’t right. So on a cold, dreary Sunday afternoon, I watched with almost disbelief, as one horse in particular, Flynn – reached out to the grieving Copper – grooming, nibbling and connecting with him as only horses can, as if to say, “hey, it’s okay, we’re here with you.” They say that time heals all wounds. I’m not sure if I agree with this or not. What I do know is that time and companionship allowed Copper to find his new place in a new herd. He is slowly making new friends and the sad look in his eye is disappearing. He still looks towards his old home from time to time but he has also adapted to the routine of our place. He has proven to be an immensely popular horse within our program and it is our prayer, that as he brings a smile to the visitors here at Spark of Hope, that he himself will begin to “smile” again…