Allow me to introduce you to Sebastian. He was a Quarter Horse and was the first baby born here at our farm. Sebastian is no longer with us but I could not tell you the story of the horses I have without telling you of our greatest loss. In early 2009 we started preparing the farm for horses again. Once we had fencing ready I started looking for my youngest son a horse. I found a horse trader with a 9y/o Quarter Horse mare that his daughter used in playdays. She was unregistered and he wanted $800 for her. She was to be safe for my son who was 10 at the time and had never actually ridden a horse.
Actually the picture of him riding this mare for the first time still makes me laugh so I may attach it at the end. We drove to Marshall, Tx. to meet this guy and pick up Mattilda. She was awesome. She was exactly what the guy said she was and then some (she was bred and we did not know) we bought her in March of 2009. Around about May we realized she sure was “FAT” so we had the vet check her and she for sure was bred.
On July 2nd 2009 our greatest gift arrived an absolutely perfect colt. Pictured above this picture was taken when Sebastian was less than 24 hours old. See here we spend the first month of a new foals life spending at least 2-4 hours a day imprinting and literally throwing everything we can think of at them that typically scares a horse or that the horse may have problems with later down the road. So at only a couple of hours old he had a halter on, then at just over 24 hours we took a clip from a lead rope and attached it for him to get used to the weight of it then at 2 days we started teaching him to let us lead him. It took all of 3 days to teach this colt to lead. Of course his momma was a very trusting mare and we had worked extensively with her once we figured out we had a baby on the way to make sure we would not have a problem with her allowing us to get to and mess with the baby.
Sebastian at 2 weeks old would leave momma’s side and come to the gate when he heard us come out the front door of the house. Because we had put the halter on him at birth he thought it was part of his body. I will never forget at about 3 weeks old he lost his halter in the pasture. He met us at the gate that morning and he would run out about 30ft stop and come back and try to whinny which only come out as grunts. when we went into the pasture he run in front of us circling to come back for us and took us straight to his halter where it laid in the pasture. That baby was totally distraught because he thought part of his body had fallen off. Once the halter was put back on he happily trotted back to momma. From that point on if he lost it he would pick it up and bring it to the gate and wait patiently for one of us to come out then he would run circles in front of the gate with the halter in his mouth until we came out to put it back where it belonged.
We were in no way set up for a baby when he was born. once we introduced him to grain we had to separate him from the rest of the horses and at that time we only had the one pasture in basically our yard. so we would turn him out in the front yard to eat. Once he was done he would come to us to be put back in the fence with momma. How did we train this colt to do these things. I could not tell you because it has never been repeated. He was just special in every way. Over the course of the next couple of months we played with beach balls, grocery bags, tires, trailering, tieing he would have been so easy to break he trusted us completely. sometimes I thought he trusted us more than his momma.
At about 3 months old the vet noticed he had a hernia and wanted to repair it as soon as possible. Since everything had dropped and he could be gelded at that time too it would make it easier to do both surgeries at a young age because the hernia repair would be so much easier on him young. So she came out and done both surgeries here on the farm when Sebastian was about 4 months old. He recovered from the surgeries with no visible signs of infection in the first couple of weeks. He had no major swelling and the sites healed well and fairly quickly. We continued to run and play with Sebastian I actually think he either thought he was a human or a dog. He would run a play, would fetch his feed pan on command and bring it to the feed room door to be filled. If he would have grown to be a full grown horse we would have had some serious work to do to make him understand he was not a dog because he was very affectionate and loved attention.
About a month after his surgeries he started losing weight of course it was winter time too so we bumped up his feed a bit but he continued to lose. And he was losing fairly quickly. The vet was coming out at that time 2-3 times a week for other horses here at that time. She would look at Sebastian and say “You know, I need to draw blood on him and see what’s going on. He sure has lost a lot of weight.” So after a couple of weeks I ask her are you going to draw blood and see what’s wrong or are you gonna just let him waste away and die on me? That day she pulled blood and stool samples to send off. We got the stool sample back first and he was wormy so she had us put him on a power pack for 3 days then gave us instruction to worm every other week with certain wormers that were safe for a foal under 6 months. While we waited to get the results of the blood work back. So we done as she asked he got 3 doses of fenbendazole wormer which is what a power pack is in huge loading doses. The more wormer we gave him the sicker he got.
I went out on January 7th 2010 to find him laying in the hay roll so weak he could barely lift his head. We had our round pen built by this time but had no covered/enclosed area to keep him. I moved him to the round pen to keep the other horses from stepping on him. During the time of him going down and getting weaker part of the blood work had come back saying he had an infection but they were waiting on the blood cultures to tell us exactly what it was. At 4pm on January 7th 2010 I made the call to our vet to please come put Sebastian down. He was so weak when you lifted him and stood him up(which I could do on my own) he would only stand for a minute or so before he would fall over. I could not stand to watch this baby suffer and it was apparent he was in pain and having trouble breathing at this point. She was tied up on another farm call supposedly( I later found out that was not true and it ultimately ended our friendship and her business with my farm) and would be a little while before she could get here.
My grandfather brought the tractor and small flat trailer down we fixed up bedding on it and placed Sebastian on it in his winter blanket and waited for the vet to show up. My fiance’, myself and my best friend were there when the vet came and injected him with the meds to put him down at 7:03pm on January 7, 2010 our greatest gift took his last breath and went to sleep forever laying in my lap with me hugging him and telling him how sorry I was but how much better he would feel in just a little while. We found out the next week that it was a bad staph infection which ultimately killed Sebastian and that it most likely occurred due to contamination during surgery. Even though for the first couple of weeks he showed no signs of infection and everything healed well it was in his blood.
It has been almost 4 years now and he still affects everything I do with my young foals. He was buried in the back of our property. I still do not know the exact spot. I refused to go and stayed out of the back for months until everything had time to settle back to normal. I don’t know who taught who more in that relationship whether we taught Sebastian or he taught us. I miss him every day still but I am so thankful that we had him for the short time we did. He brought such joy into all of our lives. So I borrowed the poem below from Stacy Westfall it was sent to her by one of her followers. It is very fitting for this story for sure.
As promised this is a picture of my youngest son riding Sebastian’s momma Mattilda for the first time. Thank the Lord she had good sense and was used to kids because he did not have a clue and it shows in this picture. I could list 15 different things wrong just from the picture.
I’ll lend you for a little while my grandest foal, He said.
for you to love while he’s alive and mourn when he is dead.
It may be one or twenty years, or days or months, you see,
but will you, till I take him back, take care of him for me?
He’ll bring his charms to gladden you, and should his stay be brief,
you’ll have treasured memories as solace for your grief.
I cannot promise he will stay, since all from earth return,
but there are lessons taught on earth I want this foal to learn.
I’ve looked the wide world over in my search for teachers true.
And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes, with trust, I’ve chosen you.
Now will you give him total love, not think the labor vain,
nor hate me when I come here to take him back again?
I know you’ll give him tenderness and love will bloom each day,
and for the happiness you’ve known, forever grateful stay
But should I come and call for him much sooner than you’d planned,
you’ll brave the bitter grief that comes, and someday, understand.