Noddy, our gallant old white horse, died last autumn. I helped rescue him, and it changed my life.
Noddy was 36 years old ** and had spent his life working hard as a cart horse. He was eventually left to die in a small field with hardly any grazing. When we found him he was weak and emaciated. His joints were very stiff and he walked with difficulty. His owners said that he had no teeth and couldn't eat.
When Noddy first arrived at Vrouva, we weren't equipped to keep a horse. We didn't even have a stable. As the weather got colder and rain was forecast, we organized for him to stay in a stable in the village of Mesagros. It was a warm and comfortable place and there was plenty of grazing for him in the fields around his new home but Noddy broke free and found his way back up to the farm. It was a dramatic and wonderful sight to see Noddy galloping up the hill towards Vrouva. So Kostas lovingly built him a stable at Vrouva farm.
We're sure that Noddy was happy at Vrouva. He didn't have bad teeth, actually; a check up by a vet showed that his teeth were ok. The vet suggested he be dewormed and be given an anti inflammatory injection and some pain killers. On a nutritious diet, he began to gain weight and strength.
Noddy was especially fond of our donkey, Margarita, but he liked the company of the other donkeys, too. To begin with, he didn't like humans much, but gradually he began to accept and like us. He had some favorites. He had a special bond with Sotiris, who daily cleaned and dressed a wound (caused by flies biting him) until it healed. Alexia was one of his favorite people too.
Noddy fell a few times in his last month of life and friends and volunteers had to gather at Vrouva to help lift him. He grew so trusting of us and he always did his bit and helped us to lift him. He worked together with us. It was heartwarming that Noddy had finally grown fond of us humans and that he trusted us. On his last day, Jesu (a volunteer) came to visit. Noddy was very glad to see him as Jesu seemed to know horse language. Noddy showed off a little and they played together for a while. Then later in the day, Noddy laid down in the sheep pen and wouldn't get up. Alexia wanted to help him, but Jesu said, "No. Let him be. He's leaving." Alexia knew he was in pain and she had been talking with the vet that day on how to help him. When she saw that he was dying, she phoned the vet and asked him to come to Vrouva.. When the vet arrived, everyone at the farm was standing around Noddy. And at that moment, he took his last breath. Ten of us dug his grave ourselves and then carried him into it. It was a very emotional time for all of us saying good bye to a noble old horse. He was buried with honour. We knew that he'd appreciated all the love and care we'd given him and it had been a privilege for us being able to offer a happy retirement to a horse who had worked so hard for humans all of his life. We miss his gentle presence but his spirit is still at the farm.
** We knew Noddy's age because he had some numbers branded on his back which a visiting English vet deciphered for us.