Peppi's Eulogy (text only)
Celebrating Peppi Peppi Strolin Beauty (August 17,1984- October 15,2017) Age 33
What does one really say when your favourite horse dies? I was fortunate enough to spend several hours with her the day she died. It was a warm autumn day and she was very weak as she lay down in the grassy corral. I lay down beside her and stroked her neck and spoke to her and remembered some of our rides. Her son, Magic, was in the corral with us. When Magic got agitated, Peppi’s eyes told me she wanted me to go console her son and so I did. Immediately son and mom calmed down. Peppi was a great mom until the end and watching their communication with each other was touching.
The day after she died, I needed to reminisce and decided that while I painted me riding her, I would reflect on our life together. I did a loose painting in acrylics titled “Togetherness” and it is depicted below.
Peppi was my equine companion for more than 29 years. She was a talented, beautiful black registered tennessee walking horse with a great disposition. Farriers and veterinarians were always impressed with how calm and obedient she was and she helped set the tone for a calm, willing herd. She loved apples and carrots and was the neatest eater of oats. She never ate in a frenzy and never spilled her feed. She was the dream horse I was privileged to own. Tom bought her for me for my 32nd birthday after we searched high and low across Alberta for the perfectly trained and gentle horse. She was an Alberta Champion in the walking horse futurity and in showing at age 2 and 3 before I even owned her. Her breeder Marlin Matechuk was a talented trainer who bred solid walkers with rocking chair canters, good walking gaits, and excellent feet.
Peppi always made me look good. When I rode in the Stampede Parade, she wasn’t bothered by the thousands of people clapping and cheering, flapping flags, jumping clowns, marching bands, unruly horses, noise and more noise. She was solid and beautiful and it made for a fun, exciting parade.
I also had the opportunity to ride for Queen Elizabeth at Spruce Meadows and of course Peppi made the event memorable for me. She did me proud when the Queen did her inspection and also later when I got to ride in front of Queen Elisabeth. Of course Tom was madly scurrying around the big show ring trying to get a photo of me and the Queen in the same shot! Somehow he managed to do just that!
Peppi did well in shows in English and Western pleasure and equitation. She was a dream. But my fondest memories were the hundreds of trail rides I enjoyed on her. In the early years, I would regularly ride her by myself for three hours a day almost every day of the week. Guns would go off in the nearby CFB(Canadian Forces Base) where was boarded and she took it all in stride. Birds and animals would jump out and she barely startled.
I remembered how she saved my life on a ride in the West Valley. As we were jumping over a stream, Peppi lost her footing as she slipped on some mud on the bank. I flew off her back and landed on the other side of the bank with her body and front legs ready to land on my head. I watched her immobilized as she maneuvered her body sideways in mid-air to avoid my head and body. I remember Tom running to me asking me how I was and all I could say was “make sure Peppi is ok!” Peppi stopped right beside me and just stood there waiting for me to get up. I was so fortunate that Peppi had the agility and balance to avoid my head and body.
On another ride, I was coming up a steep narrow trail when a herd of spooked cattle came running down the hill towards me. I had trees on both sides and nowhere to go. I edged Peppi over to the side and a hundred head stampeded past us. Peppi stood her ground, didn’t overreact, and calmly let the herd brush by. Peppi gave me courage.
And then there was the “attack skunk” episode! Hah! We were riding up a trail and I had to dismount to open a gate. Before I jumped off, a mama skunk ducked out from behind a tree and ran full speed towards us. I turned Peppi around immediately and hightailed down the trail forced to take a half hour detour!!!! Luckily we did not get skunked! But I avoided that particular trail for the next week, at least!
Another adventure involved a mama black bear and her baby. We were riding down a trail and our german shepherd Lucy thought the baby would make a great playmate and mama bear did not think so. I tried to call Lucy away from the baby, but she was enamoured with the new buddy. Peppi and I quickly walked away , calling Lucy, looking back to check on the whereabouts of mama bear. I would turn my head to look, then Peppi would turn hers. We would walk for twenty feet or so and I would turn to call off Lucy and Peppi would also turn her head. She was so in tune with what I was doing and always calm and obedient. Truly one-of-a-kind. Lucy eventually listened and ran back to us- luckily without the bear following her!
One of the memorable events in my marriage was the day that I found Peppi by herself in the lower pasture with a limb lodged in her groin. She was in pain and couldn’t move on her own. I managed to walk her slowly up the hill so I could call a vet to treat her - she trusted me completely. She bravely walked with me, every step an extremely painful one. I called Tom to tell him about this as I was with the vet. Tom was in the middle of negotiations in an important merger for his company. But he dropped everything to be with me. He knew how important Peppi was to me and he didn't want me to be alone during the diagnosis. That was the day I knew completely that Tom would always make me a priority no matter how busy he was with work. In the early years of career building and growing your company, it can be easy to make work the priority.
For the rest of the summer, I would cleanse Peppi’s wound once or twice a day and when she could, I would walk her up to the house. She would baby walk around the lawn grazing quietly while I worked in the garden. She never went very far. It was a companionable summer with my Peppi- We were inseparable and she depended on me to help her get well.
One of my most memorable cougar events was also on Peppi. Tom and I were riding back home on our land when we encountered a large mountain lion stretched on a tree while feasting on a deer. He was a healthy, magnificent specimen only 15 yards away. Our horses Peppi and her son Magic took it all in stride- no fussing or excitement. We briefly watched and moved on. No one felt threatened, but oh wow!!! What a rare event to witness! The next day we took the same route and low and behold, we witnessed the same cougar in the same place! This was unbelievable- and never to be repeated again, I am sure!
For my 40th birthday Tom masterminded a treasure hunt on horseback for me. We rode for two hours through our woods with clues and presents hidden in tree stumps, hanging from trees, hidden in prairie schooners. Everything was accessible while on horseback. One event emblazoned in my mind was when Peppi and I cantered into a clearing and we stopped as she nosed a plastic bag hanging in a tree. It was a gift that Tom had organized of a photo shoot of Peppi. Somehow Peppi managed to create this magical moment along with Tom, as if they had planned it all along. Later on, I heard of all the anxiety and drama Tom had as he worried that birds or squirrels might carry off some of the jewelry and shiny objects in tree trunks since he had hidden everything the day before. Another memorable birthday memory with Peppi!
And indeed, most birthdays were spent on rides with Peppi. That was my favourite thing to do on my birthday. It was still a special pick even though I could do it most days......
Every ride has its own special revelations- new wildflowers to see, deer and elk in the trees, the occasional moose. Sometimes owls and hawks follow us to see what gets flushed out as we ride by. The great grey owls ,in particular, are hugely awesome to watch flying in amongst the tree branches. Their wing span is around five feet and they seem to float through all the branches, never touching.....it is quite amazing to witness. The families of grouse are funny to watch. A parent feigns an injury and flaps around and away from the babies to draw you away. They are great pretenders. There are simply hundreds of Adventures I have had while riding Peppi. I could easily write a book about them. Many more come to mind.
I have owned Peppi for half of my life and most of my married life......She was a blessing in so many ways. I prayed with her in the end, saying I hoped she would be with me in Heaven, both of us with younger, healthier bodies to enjoy our rides from long ago. And I prayed that if she wasn’t there because who knows if horses are part of the Heaven scenario, then I felt I had been able to taste a bit of heaven here on earth on my rides.
Thank-you God for creating horses. Thank-you Tom for my amazing 32nd birthday gift. And thank-you Peppi, for your friendship, loyalty, and abilities that helped me to grow as a horsewoman. I will always treasure the most amazing memories I have of you. I will never have another horse as awesome as you were. You were the best. I loved everything about you.
A few days later, I decided to do another acrylic painting of Peppi titled “Old Friend”.