To Have Loved a Friend

An empty stare betrayed her loss and tears flowed unrestrained,
though heartfelt words tried hard to heal a sadness still remained.
So limp and soft her once strong hand hung loosely in my grip,
I felt at loss with what to say, the words escaped my lips.
Fresh flowers on the mound of dirt paid tribute to her friend
whose bridle she clutched in her hand, so little in the end.

We only went to trim the feet of our old Shetland Snow;
he showed the signs of foundered hooves, his gait was getting slow.
Her young friend shared the block with him, some other horses too,
but, when we cornered all the mob, defiant they shot through.
The filly though just stood confused, she sensed my daughter there;
desire to join the others though reflected in her stare.

My gentle words were meant to coax, to reassure her ears,
an outstretched arm was meant to calm and nullify her fears.
Then in a flash she’d made her mind, no longer would she wait
and dashed past me with lightning speed; she meant to join her mate.
Her flight forced her to race between a concrete trough and me,
when suddenly her forefoot slipped and caused the tragedy.

Momentum forced her frame to slide through moisture and the mud,
then concrete crushed her forehead bone, soft muzzle filled with blood.
She thrashed about in frantic throes, which chilled me to the bone.
My daughter cried, “Please help her dad! Please help my strawb’ry roan!”
I threw myself upon her head and held the filly down,
then sent my girl to seek some help, to fetch the vet from town.

He gave her horse a sedative while he then worked to save,
the failing force within her friend; the situation grave.
Her frame so still, her breathing rough, now time would only tell
if she would lose her fav’rite mate; the waiting it was hell.
The sedative then ran its course, she started to respond,
my daughter spoke to reassure her love and life long bond.

The trauma drained her filly though, her mind was not her own.
She thrashed and struggled all the more, each breath a muffled moan.
Her hurt was more than we could bear; my daughter said mid tears.
“I know I love my filly dad, she’s been my friend for years,
but I can’t bear to see her pain, we must do what is kind.
Please let her go and be at peace; my love is not so blind.”

Then as we said our last good-byes to our dear equine friend
the fatal dose of sedative then quietly brought her end.
For months my daughter felt her loss, her friendship she did crave
and often sought to sit and talk by her young filly’s grave.
I felt so proud the other day, her words I do recall,
“It’s better to have loved a friend than had no friend at all.”


I bred this filly myself and after breaking her in my daughter developed a strong attachment and they often were seen cantering around the place and when the accident took place it really left a lot of heartache.  A little tribute to her memory.

From the book A Muster of Verse & Yarns.

4 replies on “To Have Loved a Friend”

This is heartbreaking. Yet, in the end, there’s strength from the weakness. Somehow we carry on as loved ones (even our animal friends) leave. The grief we carry with us–forever. We just have to shift it around as we cope with acceptance of things we can’t change. Your writing is strong, and the feelings flow from Line 1 ’til the reader is done.

Enjoyed this, Merv.



G’day Sarah. To have bred the filly and handled her created a strong bond. It certainly hurt to see her go so needlessly. Meagan rally had a bond too and I remember how hard it was to first perform this poem in public. Thanks for sharing.


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