On behalf of the entire Agape team, it is with great, great sadness that I share with you that our beloved Seth passed away on Thursday afternoon around 12:30pm. This happened very unexpectedly, and needless to say, is devastating news.
Seth incurred a severe injury to his left hind stifle joint, which was determined to be irreparable (if you would like to read more about Seth’s injury, please see the section below). Unfortunately, we do not know how Seth suffered this injury. There are many times in life that we experience pain and difficulty without warning or understanding “how” and “why.” This is one of those times for our Agape family, and while we wish we knew the “how” of his injury, we are confident in our decisions and the responsive actions of our team while handling Seth’s situation with the utmost care and respect as he so deserved. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for this amazing horse that we loved very much. The team came together to pray over Seth, thank him for his many years of service, thank God for giving us these years with Seth, and say goodbye. Seth left softly and quietly around 12:30pm on Thursday, January 22nd.
We want to take this time to cherish Seth and the legacy he leaves with us. Those of you who knew Seth, know that he was truly a one-of-a-kind horse. At 14.2 hands tall with a stout build and a quiet temperament, Seth had a strong and servant spirit.
He came to Agape over 10 years ago on September 17, 2004. He came from a farm where he pulled a cart with for a 6-horse hitch show team. He was purchased at that time over a decade ago by a family that dearly loves Agape and they purchased him for Agape. This is truly one of the greatest gifts we have received and we cherish the family that brought him to us. So he has been in our Agape family for over a decade and has truly changed the lives of thousands.
Seth had so many quirks and traits that were unique. While he had a gorgeous long blonde mane and forelock (one which many of us women pay money to have), he had a very short tail. And he liked to have his hair covering this forehead so you were not to part it because he would shake it back to place quickly.
His stall was the first one in the barn, but if you ever had the pleasure of watching Seth during feed times, you know that he was always the last to come in to eat. When the rest of the herd runs in for feed time, Seth always came in slowly at his own speed. But often times when he would arrive in the arena and all the others were already in their stalls, he would take a moment to run, and jump, and kick in the arena all by himself.
Seth’s personality was calm, stable, strong, and independent. He was such a joy to watch in the herd. He never fought for hierarchy because he was content and confident. He was content in his role within the team and confident in his ability to fulfill that role. He carried a quiet, humble strength. He taught us a lot of life and leadership and I am forever grateful to Seth for that.
This steady, dependable horse served so many riders over the years and so many different riders because of his strength and dependability. He always seemed to know when to play, when to be strong, when to comfort, when to stand and when to move. He served our Special Olympians every year with patience and care. It was as though he knew his job was to help make that Olympian look great in the arena.
He carefully carried his quadriplegic rider, giving him the much needed gentle movement to keep his lungs loosened up. He stood still at the mounting block while a rider, terrified to mount up, found the courage to scramble up into the saddle. But, if you ask him to, he was willing to take it up a notch with his independent riders, giving them varied gaits and a safe challenge to meet their goals. He also loved disco music (yep, disco!) and he would prance in beat to the music.
One of Seth’s favorite things to do was to pull the carriage. When he was harnessed, he stood tall and proud, ready to work. One of our most cherished memories of Seth (and one that changed me forever), was when he gracefully, delicately pulled the casket of one of his young riders at her funeral. The sun was setting and Seth was adorned with his rider’s favorite colors and things. He treated that moment with such care. He pulled that carriage past her grieving family and in front of three crosses outside of the church. It was tender and beautiful. I can only imagine that this precious little girl and Seth are reunited, both pain-free to worship our Lord for eternity.
Seth- we love you. Thank you for teaching us how to serve others with a beautiful dance of humility and strength.
For those who wish to remember Seth with us…..
This is very difficult for our staff, our riders, our volunteers, and even the herd that lived with Seth. When we lose someone we love, we simply need your prayers, your quiet comfort, and your support as we mourn and journey through this together. We are going to have a memorial area setup at his stall for visitation from Saturday, January 23rd through Monday, February 9th. Everyone is welcome to come visit his stall during operating hours (Mon-Friday 9-6pm; Sat. 9-2pm; Sun. Closed). You are invited to bring your favorite pictures and/or memories of Seth to hang on his stall. You may also write him a message on his stall. We will plan a memorial celebration in the fall where we will honor Seth’s legacy in our memorial garden.
More about Seth’s injury…..
Unfortunately, we do not know how Seth suffered this injury. We do know exactly what kind of injury he incurred though. In more technical terms, Seth incurred significant soft tissue damage to his left hind stifle joint. The stifle joint is a very complex structure and much like a human knee. The patella is similar to the knee cap, and it has three finger-like ligaments that provide stability to the stifle. These three ligaments are what allow horses to sleep standing up. For Seth, his patella (knee cap) was dislocated from its normal location, indicating that there was damage to the stifle joint and the possibility that the ligaments were torn. The best way to understand this is to compare it to what we know as an ACL injury that many athletes experience. For a horse, the two front legs often act like our arms and the two back legs are similar to our legs. Unfortunately though, unlike a person, an ACL injury to the severity that Seth incurred (with all ligaments torn) make it impossible for a horse to carry its weight and stand. To learn more about the biology of the stifle joint, this is one website you can read more about at: http://www.horses-and-horse-information.com/articles/0197stifl.shtml
We are very blessed at Agape to have well-trained, caring, and alert staff. We discovered that Seth was injured on Wednesday late afternoon. He had been serving students from Noblesville Schools that morning and was pain-free, enjoying his job bringing hope and joy to these students. We contacted Janssen’s Veterinary Clinic immediately and they arrived promptly in the afternoon to begin evaluating Seth’s prognosis. After examining Seth and determining that there was injury to his left hind stifle, Janssen’s consulted with an equine surgeon from Purdue and decided that it was best to take X-rays of his stifle to properly determine the best options to help Seth. Our team then tended to Seth for the evening, ensuring his safety and comfort. Janssen’s came back out the next morning and took X-rays of Seth’s stifle. The results of this exam revealed that the injury was too significant for surgery and the best option for Seth was humane euthanasia.