Passed 25th July 2017
Some friends come into your life to share memories with, and there are friends that destiny ensured your meeting will forever be ‘memorable’. I met him on my first trip to Calan Horse Sanctuary several years ago when I read there was this wonderful place that a wonderful man had created to give unwanted horses a forever home. This wasn’t an ordinary sanctuary and wasn’t an ordinary man nor an ordinary horse- his name was Merc, (aka Mercury Pilot as a racer), a thoroughbred from Tasmania, in his elder years, private and peaceful, yet a strong willed old patriarch, who would have turned 29 this year, 2017.
Alan Gent, the extraordinary man and founder of CHS, knew something was wrong when old Merc, who was starved sometime in his past, didn’t come down for his breakfast. Merc’s little mate, a white elder pony named Brodie, frantically called out to Alan, to send the alarm that Merc had collapsed and could he please answer his cries for help? Merc had come to CHS as a mate for a horse named Rebel and boy, would Merc give Alan a serve if he was late with brekkie or tea! And of course, if Merc was being fed, then little Brodie had to be fed because he was as loyal as the sky is blue when it came to being old Merc’s right hand man and stuck like glue to his side in all and every moment of every day.
As little Brodie and Big Ben, Merc’s other soulful mate, drew Alan in with their cries and then attendance at breakfast without Merc, something Merc had never before missed, Alan confronted his worst fears- something had gone terribly wrong with Merc and he eventually found him on the ground, in the mud and not able to get up. Fear lit up old Merc’s left eye and he had gone blind in the right, caked with mud and sand dripping out of his mouth, as it had rained through the night and the earth had flooded and caked-up around him. His left front foot was cut as his back hoof had struggled and kicked the front trying to get himself upright. Alan, alone, tried to roll him over as it was clear he had been down for a long time and the concern was about his organs shutting down from this situation.
Alan had the wherewithal to send an S.O.S. to two loyal and long-time volunteers, Helen and Azzurrah, who were still in bed that morning and about 40 minutes away. They assisted Alan in keeping Merc as comfortable and dry as they could but Alan had no choice but to put him to sleep. When I received the message from Alan I was as sick as a friend could be to hear such news. I wondered what would Brodie do without him? Did Merc suffer? My heart went out to Alan and I thanked God that Helen and Azzurrah were there to help along with Nathan, Alan’s son who has had the difficult and honorable job of placing the deceased horses in their graves.
As Alan has aptly said and we all feel the same, “I will never forget Merc and if it was possible for him and I to meet again and walk over the Rainbow Bridge together, and it required me to walk up Mt. Everest to do it, I’m sure I would make the effort.” After a brief phone chat with Alan, I drove past a paddock at dusk, along the Bass Coast in Victoria, looked over to my right and saw a young horse the exact same color and markings as Merc. Tears continued to fall and I lit a candle at home, sat in meditation with Merc’s photo – one Alan had framed and presented me with and engraved with a little brass plate, a photo of Merc eating at his trough with bird feathers, woven into his flyveil, I had put in Merc’s stable on my first visit to let him know that he still had it in him, he could use these feathers to remind him he could run like the wind’.
We’re all in pain at Merc’s passing. Alan, Nathan, Helen and Azzurrah-not a dry eye amongst them in seeing Merc’a empty stable and bucket in the mornings. Yet rainbows have appeared- three the next morning over my farm in Victoria and there he was, up in the sky, old Merc in all his brilliant glory, running like the wind across the heavens and free from suffering with his herdmates Topaz and the gang. At CHS in Western Australia, elderly little Brodie continues to stand in vigil at Merc’s gate, has called out for him and then appears at the spot where Merc fell. Through all of our sorrow at our gentle friends’ passing, we give thanks to Alan Gent, the man whom the majority of responsibility falls in caring and handling what is sometimes a tough gig, looking after so many innocent beings. In my heart and I’m sure in Merc’s, we know Alan wouldn’t have it any other way- the love is always unconditional and mutual, the price we gladly pay to be in the company of one another, through good times and bad and to be able to say, no dear friend, its ok if you go first and I’ll be there for you when you do. Your passing has been one of the hardest to bear, an era gone by of the high standards you and Topaz the elder put on all of us to live up to the best, your gentle nature and kind knowing in your last days spent in closeness and friendship toward Alan when he gently stroked your cheeks – it’s as if you knew the time had come. We’ll see you again someday, and until then, in those rainbows and winds, in your empty stall and bucket and in the big heart of little Brodie who is our reminder of the great love that pulls this place together.
Goodbye for now Merc and May You Forever Rest in Peace
Your Friend, Mae Lee Sun