This blue-eyed Paint gave this veterinarian a shoulder to cry on and peace I can still feel.
Emily Berryhill, DVM, is a veterinarian who works at Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas. I think she better tell this story so I'm going to pass the reins over to her. Thanks, Emily. —Bo
A few Sundays ago our clinic horse, Randy, passed away next to his pile of alfalfa and good friend Elvis the donkey. To visitors, he was probably just another old horse in the back pasture, a sorrel and white Paint with an occasional limp to his right front leg. If you took a closer look, however, you would see that Randy had blue eyes that were sensitive to the sun and dust, a lightning bolt on his cheek, feet that grew into pancakes when they got too long and he was lame in the right front due to a knobby knee. If you had the time to spend with him, you'd notice that he ate his alfalfa much more voraciously than the grass hay, he halfway listened to the stall cleaner ramblings and he depended on his buddy Elvis for security and fun.
Elvis the donkey stood by Randy's side until the very end.
Randy was an integral part of Brock Veterinary Clinic for 15 years or so, after being surrendered due to a severe hoof injury. His eulogy can be summed up in this statement from Bo: "He taught me to rope."
In fact, Randy was responsible for the teaching of many. His initial role as instructor did indeed come in the form of roping. Randy and Bo were staples at the rodeo arena, catching steers and dallying ropes almost nightly for several years. Randy taught Bo to head and also taught him what a broken tailbone felt like. They were partners: a man and his horse, both in it for the thrill of the moment.
As time passed, Randy's role transitioned. He became the go-to horse when the clinic got new equipment that needed to be tested and was used as an instructional model for clinic staff and veterinarians. That right knee likely had as many radiographs taken of it for testing purposes as all the racehorses that came through the veterinary clinic in a year's time. Tendons were ultrasounded as machines were compared, and Randy once had full-body infrared laser therapy as a woman peddled her wares.
Randy continued to serve as a teacher to visiting students eager to put their hands on a horse and be real veterinarians. His saucer feet were slowly nipped and rasped, front limbs often abducted significantly more than seemed comfortable. Vaccinations were popped into his neck, sometimes vigorously and other times tentatively. His teeth were floated in fits and starts as students learned to manipulate the power tools, and he always stayed sedated like a champion rather than bouncing around as soon as the speculum was opened.
Finally, Randy was instrumental in teaching me how to relax and let a day go by. Our evening routine, be it summer when the air was still hot at 10 p.m. or winter when fingers were too cold to buckle blankets, involved a large serving of senior mash for him. I remember Elvis scavenging whatever fell out of Randy's mouth. Those quiet times when the stars and moon shone bright, as they only can in Texas, accompanied by the soft noises of a horse munching his feed, brought about a peace that I can still feel. When I was at my limit from a string of busy nights, Randy's shoulder absorbed hot tears and his dusty coat and horse scent again brought comfort.
Randy's now buried in his pasture, with his buddy Elvis standing by, and will be thought of daily by Bo as he leans against the pasture fence talking on the phone, and by me three states away when I see a Paint horse with pretty blue eyes.
Randy's imaginary tombstone will forever read, "He taught."
Dr. Bo Brock owns the Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas.
Photo courtesy of Emily Berryhill, DVM