A Love Letter to Old Finn
My dear and very old horse Finnegan was mercifully put out of his pain in the wee hours of this morning, Valentine’s day.
Dawn Townshend, who has lovingly looked after him for decades at her stable in Petawawa, sent me a message around 6:00 last night to let me know that Finn was in trouble.
I wept. Finn had had a very rough spell the winter before and had nearly died. Under Dawn’s care, he revived, and looked amazingly hale and hearty last summer.
In October, as my husband and I prepared to head south, I said my good-byes, knowing that old Finn might not survive a harsh winter. After all, it was a miracle he’d lived as long as he had. He’d been “30-something” for quite some time.
Finn had loving care and that was always a comfort: Dawn put apple juice in his water to entice him to drink, special supplements in his feed to keep him healthy, blanketed him to keep him warm. He had the roomiest stall in the stable, right at the front, from where he could keep track of all the comings and goings.
I believe Finn was eight when I bought him, perhaps ten, so I’ve had the honour of his company for over two decades. He was a Thoroughbred, a gentleman, docile and somewhat pokey—a perfect match for me. He was a wonderful horse to ride: his gaits were smooth and he rarely startled. When I wasn’t riding him, he served as a trustworthy school horse. When both Finn and I were much younger, we won modest ribbons for hunter jumping, but my sweetest memories are setting out on trail with him, alone for hours in the beautiful woods.
Close to midnight, Dawn messaged me that Finn was not responding to the pain medications and that the vet was on her way. “Love the old guy too much to let him suffer.”
And so it began, the leave-taking, the tears. Just after 1:00, Dawn wrote that Finn had died peacefully, “surrounded by people who loved him.”
“The last thing he knew were kind words and a soft hand stroking his face.”
“Finn left like the kind old soul he always was.”
I’ve heard it said that it takes eight horses to find the horse that is meant for you. That horse was my Finnegan, and I will have no other. He was dearly, dearly loved by many.
R.I.P. dear old Finn.