Missy's Hope Equine Rescue Resource



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Fleet I

(23 July 2012)

     Seven years ago I never imagined the change that a horse could bring in my life.  In the aftermath of losing my beloved Missy and worrying over her mother, CC an email came that changed the course of my life.  I was desperately searching for a friend for CC.  She was depressed and not eating after the loss of Missy.  I ran an ad on equine.com in the free horse section asking for help because I couldn’t afford to buy a new horse to be a buddy with her.  I received a plea from a young lady who worked at a lesson barn.  She told me that there was a wonderful gelding who could no longer jump and he was going to be euthanized.  She said that he could still be ridden, but he couldn’t keep up with the schedule required of a lesson horse.  Our only problem was that he was in Michigan and I lived in South Dakota.  I knew I couldn’t afford to bring him to our farm.  I told her that I had started joining horse rescue groups and I would ask to see if any of them could help him out.  Several people emailed me about him after I posted his story and I connected them to this young lady.  They went to see him, but none seemed the right fit.  The kids at the barn loved this gelding and decided that I was trying to help so hard that he deserved to be with me.  They set up a jar and everyone chipped in until they had enough to pay for his shipping to me.  I was floored at their generosity and by how much they adored him.  I learned his name was Fleet, but I never even saw a picture before he was on the trailer and headed to my home.

     I will never forget the anticipation and fear when the trailer arrived!  Just the day before we had brought home a mare named Misty to be a companion to CC because when we agreed to take her we didn’t know that Fleet would soon be on his way.  We had visited with her a few times before we brought her home, but with Fleet I had no idea what would arrive.  When the trailer stopped the shipper lowered Fleet’s window and he stuck his head out for a moment.  All I could see what this huge head with a white blaze!  The ramp was lowered and the back door opened and then I could hear him being led to the opening.  I can remember that I stopped breathing in anticipation!  When he stepped out all I could think was wow!  I couldn’t believe that this gorgeous horse was ours!   As he got closer, my heart beat in nervous fear.  I had never anticipated a horse as big as he was.  Every other horse I had ever owned was short and stocky and here he was tall, lean, and carrying himself with this air of pride.  I wasn’t sure I could handle him!  When the lead rope was handed to me I know I was trembling.  The shipper looked at me and said, “aww…he’s a big baby.  One of the sweetest horses I have ever hauled.”  With Misty and CC running and bucking and calling, he looked over and trumpeted once and then calmly walked into his temporary pasture.  We looked on in awe after we turned him lose as he trotted proudly along the fence.  Then he returned to us at the gate and blew on my hands. 

     That moment forged a bond that carried us through all the ups and downs.  I later learned that the lesson barn wasn’t putting him to sleep because he could no longer jump, but because he had Cushings, a condition similar to diabetes in humans.   Because I wasn’t told about it when he arrived, I fed him all the wrong foods and he began losing weight.  He was eating five times more than our other horses and still losing.  I couldn’t imagine what was going on!  The vet was stumped and so I turned to the rescue groups I had joined to see if anyone had ideas.  Someone mentioned Cushings as a possibility and after talking with the vet again we changed his diet and he began to come back.  By that time he had lost almost 500 pounds and the vet wasn’t sure he would ever be the same again.  As the months went by he slowly gained weight and then we moved to Nebraska.  Our new landlord took one look at him and asked if he needed to dig a hole before winter hit.  But Fleet continued to gain and slowly started getting back close to normal. 

     I discovered that Fleet loved kids!  He would stand so still that it was almost as if he was afraid he would accidentally step on them.  He would lower his head for their pats and kisses.  When the kids were up on his back, he would move slowly and carefully.  He quickly became a favorite. 

     When my youngest was born, I decided that it was time to try to learn who he was.  I knew nothing about him except what was on his health certificates and while examining them, I noticed a name that I had missed in the prior times I had looked.  I googled the name and came across a rider that had placed on a horse named Fleet I by a farm called Banner Farms.  I couldn’t find contact information for the rider, so I started researching the farm.  I found their website and after a lot of internal debate decided to send them and email to ask about the horse Fleet I.  I included a picture of my Fleet and to my surprise, I was answered immediately.  It was him!  They recognized him immediately.  When I told them the part of the story I knew, they told me the part of his story they knew.  They had bred and raised Fleet in California.  He was the son of an appendix quarter horse stallion named Young Fleet and a thoroughbred mare named Tandoori.  He remained with his breeder for 13 years and he was used as a jumper.  He flew on a plane from California to Florida when a job change for his owners sent them there.  At one time he was being ridden by Margie Goldstein-Engle!  When his owners decided to start a family, they sold him to a family that promised he would have a forever home with them.  They were supposed to keep in touch if they ever decided to sell him.  In piecing together his story with his original owner, we suspect that while he was with the new family he received an injury that made him unable to compete at the higher levels.  He was sold to the lesson barn that we got him from.  We don’t know how long he was at the lesson barn before coming to me.  While it was wonderful to finally know who he was and where he had been, I loved him just for him.  I learned that it didn’t matter what his story was, he was still the same wonderful horse that he always was. 

     When Delilah turned a year old, he got to be the first horse that she sat on.  I will never forget that day!  There she was so tiny up high on his back.  He turned his head to look at her and nuzzle her leg a little.  She got the biggest grin and then she threw her arms around his neck as far as they could reach and then kissed him on the side of his withers.  They continued to be buddies along with the other kids for his remaining two years with us.  Unfortunately in those two years his Cushings continued to get worse.  We increased his feed and meds and did everything we could to keep him with us as long as possible.  Finally we knew it was time to say goodbye to this wonderful boy who had become such an important part of our lives.

     On July 22, 2012, we took the kids to say goodbye to Fleet.  He was at my in-laws house for a mini horse vacation with Misty, Rose, and Dreamer while we were in Arizona.  They spent time loving on him and telling him how much they loved him.  The next afternoon, my husband and I met the vet in a peaceful area on my father-in-law’s farm to say our final goodbye.  Our vet Tony rubbed him softly and talked to him while he administered the shots and carefully helped him lay down.  Then while I sat next to his head and told him how much I loved him, he administered the final shot.  He sat rubbing his neck with me as we all said goodbye to this grand old boy.  In those last moments, I noticed his nostrils were moving like they did when he was meeting another horse for the first time.  And then I saw that proud look that he wore that first time I saw him.  As his final breath sighed softly out of his nostrils and across my hand I knew that he was where he was supposed to be.  And I had a feeling that he didn’t just stroll across the Rainbow Bridge, I just know he gathered himself, tucked his knees, and soared in the way he always loved. 

Goodbye my Fleet.  I love you and someday I will see you again.



Fleet I

I remember a moment,

That very first day,

When you stepped off the trailer,

And headed my way.

Stunning.  Just gorgeous!

The words were floating,

Around in my head.

I was so nervous,

For you were so big!

I never imagined,

You’d be my best friend.

Regal, Proud, and Strong,

A rider’s dream.

Yet Careful, Sweet, and Calm,

You proved a child’s delight!

For seven years our lives merged,

Until Cushings and age,

Smothered your light.

That final day I sat,

My hand softly resting,

Upon your cheek.

Tears streaming,

As we said our only goodbye.

And then…

Once more I saw,

The look of Eagles,

In your eye,

As your last breath,

Sighed softly by.

Right then I knew,

You did not cross,

Upon the Rainbow Bridge,

You tucked your knees,

And soared!


Written By:  Brandi M. Qualset

Copyright: B.M. Qualset 2012


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