Shift is a Belgian in his twenties, over 18hhs, 2000lbs, soon to be more! Shift arrived here with his brother, Neno, in late August 2017.
We don’t know anything about their origins or the work they did, but we do know that they were working horses.
Shift is strong and structurally well developed like hard working horses are. Both Shift and Neno are well-trained teammates and when they see a team go by they get very excited as though to say “take us with you!”
Shift arrived here with equine lymphedema brought on by a serious infection in his leg contracted at his previous home.
With us, he is receiving the necessary medicine and care he needs as well as all the good nutrition he needs daily.
He is able to walk around with his brother, Neno, in a secure area where they are learning about the other horses from over the fence.
We are convinced the boys will be running the farm soon, once they are put in the big herd with Tex. Belgians tend to do that on this farm and by their behavior with the others we can tell they have every intention of taking over. Tex may have to submit too!
Shift and Neno are older, wiser, and extremely confident horses who are getting stronger every day. Once Shift recovers, and we know he will, he will have to have a managed lifestyle much like Tex, with not too much, but enough, exercise. They will not work again like they once did but their role in a herd is extremely valuable as we are sure to learn soon.
I am finding myself at a loss for words on just how hard it is going to be to say good bye to my friend Shift and his best friend Neno. I woke up with a shock this morning, at the crack of dawn, sat straight up and said the these words out loud…”Shift is dying” It took a few more minutes to really wake up and realize what I was actually realizing. I could still smell him on me, the putrid smell of death in his leg and knew the time had come last night. I went inside after feeding, laid down on my bed tired and depressed and didn’t wake up until the morning, covered in the smell that brought me to my knees the night before.
It doesn’t help that this is the third anniversary week-end of losing my beloved Paul on this farm and the other amazing horses that crossed here too….too many to name in a short time…but since Paul left we have Sonny, Paddy, Jasper, Chance, Doc, Romeo, Rex, Jimmy…All loved….all amazing and noble master teachers of the kind of goodness they are made of. Loving, compassionate, sensitive, receptive, non judgmental big heartedness…..Shift is a King in this regard, as a teacher, a friend, a noble stoic crusader for a life that he couldn’t fully have in the end. Shift is like so many of the other work horses we meet, loves to be a part of something, loves to wear a harness, loves his role as a leader in the herd.
Shift and Neno, his lifelong partner and teammate, are extraordinary “uncles” to their little fillies Blue and Star and they even are generous enough to let Philadelphia carriage horse Bill help too, probably because he looks like them. Bill will be all alone with that job now.
The little girls are bound to be extraordinary work horses just like the ones who raised them when they found themselves here, without their mothers, tiny youngsters, struggling to make sense of the cold world they came into. The boys never hesitated and stepped right up to let us know they wanted to help take care of them. These days Blue and Star try to take care of Shift as he struggles to get up from his naps. They try licking the sores and comforting him by standing by him.
Our journey with Shift has lasted a year and for every single day he has been with us he has needed his leg cleaned, sometimes multiple times. He has been the constant star I navigate by as everything seems to revolve around his care, before it happens or after, never missing the opportunity to help him heal in some way. He has been with me through this long lonely last year on this farm when all that was left was his constant companionship in the dark, in the cold, in the snow, the storms, the sun, the visitors and the stress of not having found a home to keep the horses all together as they deserve. When the warm days started to come we knew our days would be numbered with his open sores but only a couple of weeks ago he received an extraordinary treatment that we felt would tip the scale for sure in his favor! We would fight as long as he would….things looked great. We do not own the machine that he was treated with so he was only able to have a couple of treatments. I really believe in my heart that if he had been able to have more he could have made it….the change was so positively radical. With the heat and the bugs the decay is spreading and there is nothing we can do now but help him cross over.
We will also have to put down Neno, there is no way for him to have a quality of life without Shift, no way. Neno is older and has his own health issues that are painful and hard on a daily basis, not having Shift will make his life not worth living either. They are inseparable.
I feel so sad, so sorry, so hurt that once again despite our very best efforts we cannot save such an incredible spirit, who loves life, humans, other horses, food, hay, work and even baby cows. We will all be better for having known Shift and Neno that much I know and I am grateful for that. Thank you, Shift for always reminding me why it is so important to be here for your kind….no matter what.
Shift will be euthanized tomorrow along with Neno. Please keep us all in your prayers and thoughts and the others that will feel this huge loss, like Blue and Star and even Bill. I bet even the baby cows are going to miss him as he has taken to watching over them too.