Names of Horses

Names of Horses

This has been an incredibly rough year for a lot of our friends in the horse blogging community. While we’ve all had our struggles, I think any horse lover can agree that the worst nightmare situation is losing your best friend.

It’s been a tough year of loss for some folks.

As I sit here doing some reflecting what has been a stellar year for me, I know it’s not been the same for some of y’all. Wish that wasn’t the case. Whenever I inevitably read the sad news on their blog, the default “I’m sorry for your loss” feels like a pretty empty cop-out. Really though, what can you say?


Deep down, I always hope no one posts the Rainbow Bridge poem. I hate that poem. Instead, when I really feel the loss of a horse my literary choice turns to this instead:

Names of Horses by Donald Hall

All winter your brute shoulders strained against collars, padding
and steerhide over the ash hames, to haul
sledges of cordwood for drying through spring and summer,
for the Glenwood stove next winter, and for the simmering range.

In April you pulled cartloads of manure to spread on the fields,
dark manure of Holsteins, and knobs of your own clustered with oats.
All summer you mowed the grass in meadow and hayfield, the mowing machine
clacketing beside you, while the sun walked high in the morning;

and after noon’s heat, you pulled a clawed rake through the same acres,
gathering stacks, and dragged the wagon from stack to stack,
and the built hayrack back, uphill to the chaffy barn,
three loads of hay a day from standing grass in the morning.

Sundays you trotted the two miles to church with the light load
a leather quartertop buggy, and grazed in the sound of hymns.
Generation on generation, your neck rubbed the windowsill
of the stall, smoothing the wood as the sea smooths glass.

When you were old and lame, when your shoulders hurt bending to graze,
one October the man, who fed you and kept you, and harnessed you every morning,
led you through corn stubble to sandy ground above Eagle Pond,
and dug a hole beside you where you stood shuddering in your skin,

and lay the shotgun’s muzzle in the boneless hollow behind your ear,
and fired the slug into your brain, and felled you into your grave,
shoveling sand to cover you, setting goldenrod upright above you,
where by next summer a dent in the ground made your monument.

For a hundred and fifty years, in the Pasture of dead horses,
roots of pine trees pushed through the pale curves of your ribs,
yellow blossoms flourished above you in autumn, and in winter
frost heaved your bones in the ground – old toilers, soil makers:

O Roger, Mackerel, Riley, Ned, Nellie, Chester, Lady Ghost.

While our equine friends aren’t tilling our fields these days, they still work for our interests in various ways… and when the time comes, we try to be strong enough to do what’s best for them.


For those of you who have had to make that decision this year, I really am sorry for your loss. I’m glad your beloved horses had their own little space in the online world so they can forever be appreciated and adored.

O Carlos, Echo, Grady, Image, Junior, Oberon, Trinity.

18 thoughts on “Names of Horses

  1. Such a sweet post! Losing a horse is devastating. It made me tear up as the old horse reminded me of Hobbs. I know his day isn’t far off .

  2. Ahh! Also, wanted to add after reading that poem, please don’t ever shoot your horse behind the ear if you have to euthanize yourself! You’ll make a big mess and still have a live horse at the end of it!

  3. OMG Lauren Thank you! That was so sweet and so thoughtful of you. It comes in waves, and I appreciate you thinking of us all during this time of the year.

  4. In this entire ordeal I realized that true friends just step up. Instead of just saying ‘if you need anything call me’ they just come over and sit with you and watch hours of bad tv, or bring you food, or take you out because they know that you aren’t thinking about that stuff. They text just to say hi, or call in the middle of the day. They don’t just wait for a request that will never come, they just make it happen.

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