Wrigley, BG and Gwendolyn. Part of the commitment, but still…

This is tough.

I have touched on Wrigley previously, but many of you have asked about him, BG and Gwen.  I really didn’t want to go there, but it is time.

First, I believe that I have been lucky.  Other than Dodger passing at the old age of 40, I had no horse health issues for the entire 6.5 years we were in Paso Robles.


Wrigley was Mama Tess’ last baby.  He was 14.

Approximately mid September 2022, a month before we were to leave to come back to Grass Valley, Wrigley looked like he was coming down with something.  I had the vet out and he determined that Wrig had a respiratory infection.  Wrig was put on antibiotics, which he ingested well.  In a few days, he looked much better.

However, after the full course of antibiotics were finished, he showed signs of slipping backwards.  So, we put him on a stronger antibiotic.

Then we shipped all the horses to Grass Valley.  The trip was 7 hours so the vet gave Wrig an IV antibiotic shot to make sure he was boosted for the stressful trip.

Wrigley arrived in Grass Valley and flew into his old pasture.  He was happy and home.  But the next morning, I could hear him breathing, so I knew he was in trouble.  We immediately took him to the equine hospital.  There, they did an ultrasound and saw that the infection had gone to his heart.

Wrig was in Intensive Care for 5 days.  The specialists there had hoped that they could find the balance between the strongest antibiotics to help his heart without over-burdening the liver and kidneys – with compromised blood flow.  And, he had already suffered damage to his heart valves.  It didn’t look good, but we tried.

Sadly, the infection took his lovely heart, and we were all crushed.  The vet and vet techs were crying along with me.  He was such a very sweet boy.



In December, when I was immobile due to my hip replacement, Hubby was feeding.  He went out, in the dark, to feed – and he noted that BG didn’t come to dinner.  Hubby walked out into the fields until he saw her, down and writhing.

He ran into the house.  I called the vet.  He went back out, got her up and into the barn.  The vet came.  She had a bad feeling that this was twisted gut.  Hubby put BG into our trailer and drove her to the hospital – he had never driven a horse in the trailer before.

About 2 hours later, I received the call from Hubby that it was twisted gut.  The ultrasound was not good. I knew there was no way back from that.  Hubby told me that he would stay with her and not leave her until she had left us.  Which he did.

Finn was beside himself for a few days… and so was I.    BG was shy but as good as gold.  She never gave me a moment of back talk.  A golden angel.


I had presented what was happening with Gwen here.

The vets and I thought we could manage her coffin bone rotation.  Of course, we could not do anything about her suspensory issue on her other back foot, due to the prior injury to her hock.  Gwen was fit and strong and healthy, otherwise.  She had never been sick a day in her life.

However, on May 8th, I went out to the barn and everything was different.  I knew she was in pain and I knew it was bad.

We had a talk.  She said she knew she couldn’t recover.  She knew it was her time… she also said that she felt it was really bad luck that she messed up her hock.  I asked if she was kicked or if she kicked someone in order to get the wound (I never knew how it happened).  She said it didn’t matter now.

And with that, I called the vet and set up the appointment for the next day.

We hung out together as many hours as possible.  I gave her all the drugs I had and she had a fairly good several hours.  We ate what we wanted. I told her about how I watched her birth 28 years ago (she’d heard that story so many times…) and we just sat together.

The next morning, I found her outside, sniffing the air and looking regal.  She knew.  Not even her pain could keep her from looking over her home one last time.

At 8:30 sharp, the vet arrived.  She confirmed what we knew, Gwen’s coffin bone was pushing through her sole.

And, with all the grace of the most proud and honest horse, Gwen walked out of the barn and stood for the last time.

I cried for so long.  But she is now with her mother, Mama Tess, her friend BG and her little brother, Wrigley.

I have been so lucky to have so many special horses who still live in my heart.

Now, I need to tend to Finn, who just lost 2 of his pasture mates and his sister.  Although he has Missy Miss, he does feel the void.




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14 comments have been posted...

  1. Calvin48

    I feel terrible for you – you’ve had to deal with so much loss in a short time. In addition to surgery, your new horse hurting himself, moving your entire household and horsehold. I sincerely hope your stars will settle into a better alignment and that you will have the long period of peace and calm that you deserve.

  2. Mary K

    Dawn – so hard to type with tears in my eyes. I am so very, very sorry for your loss of Wrigley, BG, and Gwen. Hardest decision made out of love and all your horses were well loved. I’d like to give your husband a huge hug for rising to the occasion in trailering BG and being there for her/you. He is a gem!

  3. Kim

    I’m so very sorry. There are no other words for the heartbreaking loss of a loved one. I’ll be keeping you in my prayers.

  4. Debbie Mollner

    Oh Dawn, my heart breaks for you with the loss of 3 of your beloved horses back to back. I can’t even imagine the pain and heartache. You gave them such a wonderful life and they knew love and were so loved and cared for by you. And you have so many forever memories of them. Thank you for sharing your babies and your stories with us.

  5. Judith

    I’m so sorry that you have lost your darling horses. May their memories be for a blessing! I would write more but I am overcome with emotion, for you and also thinking of my own dear departed horses. We will never forget.

  6. Deb Jones

    Oh my heart.
    Dear girl, you’ve been through so much, but with such grace. I am honored to read your posts, and have enjoyed them for years. I am praying your heart heals through the happiest memories, and the love of your remaining sweeties.

    Just said goodbye to my beautiful grey Arab gelding. As a widow, it was crushing. But I count it a privilege to know and love a gift from heaven, which is what horses are.

  7. Sonya

    God bless you and your hubby, Dawn! I am so sorry for your losses! ??? You are so special. Animals pick you for a reason…

  8. Donna Moore

    God speed sweet babies. May flights of angels guide you to your rest.

  9. Dawn Stephens

    Thank you for posting that. I know how hard it is to write those blogs and posts. When I read about Wrigley and Gwen, I scrolled back through posts to see what I had missed. I did find the information you posted about Wrigley but couldn’t find anything about Gwen. We lost two of our horses this year within one week of each other and it was devastating. You may remember Cassidy, you had worked with us to see if you could help with his surgery. After the third surgery, it was decided by myself, the vet, and Cassidy that it was time to let go.

    My heart goes out to you. Thank you for all the good that you do.

    Take care,

    Dawn Stephens

    Tina Jo’s Promise Equine Rescue

  10. Kathy A Johnson

    I’m so sorry you’ve had to say goodbye to so many wonderful souls lately. They’ll live on in your heart, and here on the blog where we can share in their stories. I love reading about your connection and communication with your horses, and hope when I have to say goodbye to my own 28-year-old heart horse that I will do it with as much grace as you’ve shown.

  11. Melissa

    So very sad…sorry for your losses. How we love our horses in life and desperately miss them when they pass. I so believe in the Rainbow Bridge and that all our beloved horses are “up there” grazing on the sweetest grass and cantering around like crazy enjoying themselves and each other when they leave our side.

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