I once loved a girl who loved a horse. Pasha, an Arabian, had travelled from California to Alberta to Hawaii with Cheri. She and Pasha were an item before me, during two husbands and sundry other men. Cheri and Pasha had been through a lot of pain and joy together but there was one small problem between them: Cheri disliked washing Pasha’s penis and sheath.
So that is how I and Pasha met: with me helping to wash and groom Pasha. I can’t say that he and I bonded intimately because I washed his penis. Maybe we would have if he had been able to wash mine. But we did get along pretty well. I had never ridden horses much before meeting Pasha. He taught me that horses in general, and he in particular, only allow a person to ride. But he never bit me or stomped on my feet while I was grooming or saddling him, and was patient with my clumsy riding. He seemed to enjoy me washing his penis.
Pasha played games with me. We would be cruising along some shady trail and he would stop abruptly to graze on lilikoi fruit; or balk at a stream crossing that had been perfectly crossable an hour earlier. Or he would deliberately aim at the low hanging branches above the trail, so I would have to duck. I went along with his funny little ways because, after all he was going along with mine, and to him I was the Other Man. Oh, but I was his Special Friend if I had baby tomatoes or carrots in my pocket. He loved carrots most of all.
Pasha lived at Camp Olomana, a country ranch with stables in the shadow of Olomana, a volcanic spire on the North Shore of Oahu. It was pleasant place, with large green fields next to the stables, and miles of trails in the rain forest. It rained a lot there; maybe that was why Pasha developed problems with his leg joints.
Over a one week period, Pasha suddenly started to hurt, and could walk only with difficulty. The vet said that he was in constant and immense pain. Cheri, an ardent Christian prayed for guidance and inspiration and I must suppose that eventually her God told her that it was time that Pasha be put to sleep. But she could not bear to be a part of the ordeal so I volunteered to help the vet and bury Pasha. I often wish I hadn’t but if not me, then somebody else would have had the hateful experience…
I arranged for a backhoe to come after the vet, so we could bury Pasha in a far way corner of a field. I had lots of carrots. That afternoon I wrote:
June 2 1987. 1448: Shit this is painful. I’m at Camp Olomana, Pasha is tethered in the little pasture – I’ve clipped some hair – and wait for Dr. H~. Foot throbs, coz in the melee to get Pasha; carrots flailing and horses coming from all over, he trod on my thonged foot. Retribution… tears are not far away, and I must be braver than this…..
The vet came late. I walked with Pasha, trying to think of calm things to say to him. Frantic with worry that the vet would not come, I gave Pasha almost all the carrots I had brought. I watched the vet as he slowly walked up the field to us, carrying a plastic bag with his stuff. He was kind and serious and told me he hated this part of his job. He explained what he would do and did it. First, an injection to tranquillize Pasha – he dropped his head, carrot juice drooling. I tried to give Pasha the last carrot as Dr H~ injected the full dose, but Pasha did not take it. After 30 seconds Pasha dropped to the ground, dead. Dr. H~ took the check and quietly left. I clipped some more hair and looked into Pasha’s open, big beautiful brown eyes and cried, sobbing and racking.
After a while I left to meet the backhoe and operator. The stable girl was crying. It started to rain. I found the backhoe chap waiting at nearby Bellows Air force base and he drove his backhoe while I drove his car to the ranch. I had a sense of foreboding – justified when we tried to negotiate the backhoe past the stables to the field – the overhang of the roof was too low to let the backhoe by. It was still raining, hard. Pasha’s body was getting wet, and stiffening. The stable girl covered him with a blue tarp.
The owner of the ranch, Ekolu (number 3 in Hawaiian) went nuts: “You should have have dug the fucking hole before dropping the fucking horse…”. I didn’t care about the silly man, as I drove off his ranch with the backhoe. It was still raining.
I found a smaller backhoe and returned with it to the ranch the next morning, just after dawn. The backhoe owner was a flower farmer and not used to digging large holes. Because Pasha was stiff, the pit was 12 feet long, 5 feet wide and 8 feet deep. We slipped on the wet, grassed slope continually. I was glad at last to hear the thud as Pasha’s body tumbled into the pit – I could not see Pasha’s eyes from where I stood as the earth was pushed onto him.
I had broken the thong of a flip flop while calming Pasha the day before and broke the other while slipping and sliding in the mud as we backfilled the pit. So I cast them into the pit too. I wish I had tossed the last carrot into the pit as a tribute to Pasha. Instead, I wrote a poem.