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senior horse with equine photographer

Loved by Courtney

Rutledge, Atlanta

I was 4 years old when I got the fairytale gift every little girl dreams of: My grandfather gave me my very own horse. It was cold and 8-month-old Dixie Rose had her fuzzy winter coat and I was wearing my brand new Western duster in bright red. I was wearing my fanciest cowgirl boots and cowgirl hat and had the kind of excitement you only get as a 4-year-old horse-crazy little girl.

From there began the longest relationship of my life. Over the next 30-plus years Ginger was my best friend. I spent hours and hours in the pasture of my grandparent’s North Carolina farm brushing Ginger, setting out hay, giving treats, and riding the same little path in the pasture 6 million times. I hugged her and laughed with her and cried into the fur on her neck more times than I count.

In November 2020 Ginger was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease after she developed an abscessed tooth that brought us into the equine vet. Because of her age and the Cushing’s diagnosis, removing the tooth with dental surgery wasn’t an option. Luckily, with antibiotics her tooth seemed to heal very well, but she was losing weight steadily. She began daily medication for her Cushing’s disease.

On Dec. 4, 2020, when I went out to take her breakfast she didn’t come across the pasture nickering at me to hurry up. Instead she was standing on the side of the pasture with her head down. I knew the moment I walked up to her that the infection was back and it was worse.

I called the vet to let her know we were on the way, and I begged Ginger to load into the trailer. She refused to step inside. I knew that she was ready to say goodbye, and she wanted to do it at home. Our vet came out that evening and helped her say goodbye and I cried into the fur on her neck one more time.