It's very hard to loose a friend, especially when that friend has been here for a very long time.  We had to have Eclipse put down on Monday evening.  He has been having trouble getting up once he gets himself to the ground.  We have had to flip him over several times so he could get his good leg under him and get himself up.  Sunday morning when my husband went out to feed the animals, Eclipse was down and couldn't get up.  I was still feeling very weak and short of breath so I wasn't going to be much help.  I called my wonderful vet, Dr. Michael Ridlen, and pulled him out of church to come help Ron get Eclipse up.  Before he had time to get here, Eclipse had managed to get himself up so I called Dr. Ridlen back and told him not to come.  Eclipse was terribly sore and didn't move around much after getting up.

Monday morning he was down again.  This time I went out to help get him rolled over onto he good side.  He was struggling and even rolling him over didn't seem to help.  In the end Eclipse did manage to get himself up but it took nearly three hours of struggling.  Once he got to his feet he stood in the same exact place for about four hours until he was able to move into the shelter.  I called the vet; I called the Ollie who has a large tractor and has previously buried horses for us and most importantly I called my daughter.  Eclipse was her pony from the first day he stepped off the trailer onto our property.  He has lived with me the entire 23 years we owned him but he has always belonged to her.

From the time she was little, Katy wanted to ride horses.  She took riding lessons at the Equestrian Center in Katy, TX for a number of years.  Our neighbors out in Simonton showed Welsh Ponies and we went to a couple of Welsh Pony shows to check them out.  Its a wonderful breed of pony - large enough for an adult to ride, smart enough to get into lots of trouble, shown in western, English, over fences, trail and driving.  You can go in most any direction with a Welsh Pony.  The other advantage is there is not much money in Welsh Ponies.  Many other breeds can make huge amounts of money which makes their shows much more cut-throat.  At a Welsh Pony show if you step into the barn aisle and yell out that you need a show halter because you forgot to bring yours, people will scramble to find what you need.  It's a fabulous supportive group of people.  Everyone is competitive but in a kinder more gentler way.

I don't remember how many ponies we looked at but it was obvious that Eclipse was the one for Katy.  We bought him from Rosemel Pony Farm in Richmond, TX.  The entire thing was a great experience.  Eclipse was small compared to the big quarter horses around but he had more personality than any other pony I've ever seen.  He literally taught Katy how to ride.  Early on he would plant one back foot and start to spin.  It was a spin any reining horse would envy.  He would spin and spin and spin and with each turn Katy would fall farther and farther off to the side.  Finally she would drop to the ground and Eclipse would immediately stop and turn and look at her as if to say "Well, that's interesting.  What are you doing down there?"  When Eclipse got bored in a class he would dream up a scary bear next to the rail and spook at it.  Or he would decide there was a wolf nipping at his heals and jump forward to get away.  It drove Katy nuts.  But she learned from it all.  She learned to be ever watchful and to keep Eclipse busy even in fairly easy walk-trot-canter classes.  She figured out  how to keep him from spinning.  And she learned to keep a big bright smile on her face even when what she really wanted to do was jump down off his back and beat him senseless.

The original plan was to take Eclipse over fences and to teach him to drive in addition to the flat classes he was shown in.  Katy schooled him over fences and he did really well.  He had good form and looked lighter than air when he leapt over the rails.  He refused to do any such thing in a class, however, and nearly put Katy on the ground several times when he would slide to a complete stop in front of the jump.  The sliding stop was worthy of any reining horse but, of course, not what you want to happen in an over fences class.  Our neighbors were great trainers, especially for driving, so we took Eclipse across the street for training.  The ground driving went well and he seemed to be comfortable with the blinders and driving bit.  He was not happy, however, with the training cart.  He took off and ran and ran and ran crashing the cart repeatedly into the fence until it was demolished.  OK.  So no jumping and no driving.

Katy showed him western and English and because of his conformation and his bearing, our trainer suggested saddle seat.  The picture above is Eclipse in his saddle seat rig.  When he wasn't being ugly just to be ugly, he was stunning.

When he got old, Eclipse was happy to explain that he didn't wasn't to do any more shows.  He would hide behind the barn as soon as the horse trailer came out and pretend he couldn't hear you calling his name.  It was time to retire.  Katy rode her new show pony, Steele, for one season and did really well with him.  By the end of that season Katy had gotten older, finished school and gotten a job so didn't have much time for riding or showing.

As Eclipse got older he had all the inconveniences that happen to old horses.  He lost many of his teeth and didn't make enough saliva to really chew up and soften his food so we started feeding him Equine Senior that was wetting down with water to make mush.  He did real well on the mush.  His sight was more limited and his hearing was inconsistent - of course that could have been his listening rather than his hearing.

Eclipse was 29 years old when he died.  He won't be around to help Katy's sons learn to ride, which is really sad.  I'm really pleased that Eclipse got himself up off the ground Monday so he was standing tall, if not strong when Katy got here.  She had some time with him before the vet arrived which was a good thing.  He was a great pony and we will all miss him.