April 24, 2018
Tribute to James Bond 007
I had to put James down on October 12, 2016. He was 26 years old. I buried him under his favorite persimmon tree. His mares have been looking for him, but I believe are now resolved to his absence.
James was such a gentleman. He is the best horse I have ever had, and I have been blessed with some good ones. He was an off the track Thoroughbred who had a 12-cylinder engine and a 6-speed transmission. My daughter Allison evented him up to Preliminary level. He won at the Pony Club Regional Rally more than once, as well as on the Mid-South USPC Team at National Championships, and was Oak Grove Hunt Club Horse of the Year twice. He was a great eventer, dressage horse, a fabulous fox hunter and plenty fast. He would pretty much do anything I asked of him.
In his youth when Allison was riding him, he was a handful, but he mellowed out in his later years and he and I “clicked.” I eventually hunted him in a snaffle bit. He enjoyed being a Whipper-in’s horse more than being in the field because he was so competitive and wanted to be in the lead. He could be playful at times, reaching over his stall door to toss his halter or sheet off their hooks. We even used him to lead-line my grandson Ethan on his first riding experiences.
Prior to our purchasing him, he had had surgery on his left hock, but remained sound for many years. In March 2004, he came in from the last hunt of the season a little off in the left hind. A scratch had become infected and, in spite of a regimen of antibiotics, it got worse. We called Dr. Jenifer Dunlap, who had recently started her veterinary practice in West Tennessee, to examine him. She told us that he needed immediate surgery because the cartilage in the left hock had become badly infected. She made the arrangements for us to take him to Coosa Valley Equine Center in Alabama, which we did the next day. The surgery was a success and after a couple of weeks there, and another with Allison in Murfreesboro, we brought him home. As it turned out, I also had a diagnosis which required major surgery that July, and James and I spent the summer and fall rehabbing each other walking unmounted through the pastures together. By late cubbing season, we had both recuperated enough to get back in the hunt. I don’t know which one of us was more motivated, him or me!
There was also the time that he was scrambling in deep mud trying to climb a steep hill and banged my leg into a tree, causing a small fracture, but we don’t talk about that. We do talk about the fact that he had such good feet that most of the time he did not need shoeing.
My Facebook profile photo is me galloping on James down “Armadillo Ally” at Blackwater Creek Ranch, grinning ear to ear.
As with many gray horses, he developed Melanoma in his later years. It was kept in check with Cimetidine and Angle Herbs, and I was able to hunt him up until about 2 years ago. I owed him a comfortable retirement, which I provided. He is now at peace.
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