“Life is not fair.”

I read a quote once that went something like this:  “Life is not fair. Once you accept that- you will appreciate the good times when they are here.”

I will remember Vaquero like this:

This is a picture of his neck x-ray. If you follow the line that runs through the bones –that is his spinal column. If you look from the right side of the photo and move left you will see a bony finger that sticks into the spinal column. It is a bony, arthritic growth that sometimes happens in horses and is considered a growth defect. Not caused by injury, etc. just the way he grew.






A couple of years ago we decided to geld Vaquero. We made that decision for HIM.  As a stallion he spent his life alone and couldn’t be turned out with friends (he drove them crazy).  So we gelded him even though we knew he would go on and win.  And he did go on and win. He was shown three times bridleless and was undefeated. And by gelding him we lost the money we could have made. And I never regretted it because he got to play with his friends like in this video:


This decision was even harder than that one but again we know it was for HIS best.

Vaquero May 18, 2005 to May 7, 2012



  1. […] to the vet’s with a friend and her horse. The visit reminded me of the last trip I took with Vaquero to the vet. It is a memory that is full of […]

  2. […] “Life is not fair.” […]

  3. Jennifer Cretens on July 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Thank you so much for the encouragement of the possibility of a longer comfortable life for my Jack! I know he won’t be able to be ridden and I’ve only gotten to ride him twice in the year I’ve had him, but not every horse I’ve owned in the past 5 years has been ridden either! The irony of all this is Jack’s condition is similar to my own – stenosis of the spinal chord/degenerative disc disease and I’ve already had two cervical disc surgeries in the last 4 years (and I’ve only owned horses for the last 5 years @ 53 years old now)! I’m praying every day that God allows Jack to have a comfortable life for as long as possible with us and Jack and I are actually bonding on a new level now! God works in all our lives differently, and sometimes I’m not sure how or why, but thankful that He has placed Jack in my life so we can help each other!

  4. Jennifer Cretens on July 25, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Stacy – I’m so sorry for your loss. My horse Jack was just two weeks ago diagnosed with Stage 2 Wobbles. I’m still reeling from the shock and trying to read as much as possible to hopefully give him as long a quality life as possible. He’s just a big dog that is my husband’s shadow when he’s at the barn (and my husband is afraid of horses). We aren’t sure how long he’ll have, but trying to enjoy as much time as we can with him.

    • Stacy on July 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm

      So sorry to hear that. It sounds like stage 2 is managable for most, I hope it is for you. I have also heard of a few improving over time. Vaquero was a high stage 4, they said as close to a 5 as possible (five cant stand up). I wish you the best. They told me many stories of 2’s that lived a long time pretty comfortable.

  5. Diane Taylor on July 13, 2012 at 9:36 am

    I am so sorry for your loss Stacey. My horse being the love of my life, words cannot adequately describe what I am feeling for you right now 🙁

  6. Lin Roberts CA on July 6, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    God has special assignments or both Roxy and Vaquero and they will forever run free keeping their spirits alive in our hearts….I am sorry for the voids in your life but glad you have wonderful memories of the love you all shared together…and you shared with all of us……

  7. mwhite66 on July 5, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Stacy I am so very sorry for your loss. I lost my beloved Brandy in March, one week after her 14th birthday. She died of colic, such a dreadful thing. I know she knew she was going to leave us, she came to me and put her head against my chest as if to tell me goodbye and that she would miss me. I told her it was ok for her to leave, that I would be alright and I would miss her too. I said goodbye to me friend and that was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Oh how I miss my friend. I know the sick empty feeling in your stomach. Sadly I have not ridden since. I have other horses and I spend time with them, just haven’t been able to make myself ride again. It just doesn’t seem the same without Brandy in the pasture. I can relate to the empty stall. Someone sent me this poem and I wanted to share it with you. It made me cry and I can’t wait till I see her again. I hope you enjoy the poem as much as I did. Michelle

    By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
    is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
    Where the friends of man and woman do run,
    when their time on earth is over and done.

    For here, between this world and the next,
    is a place where beloved creatures find rest.
    On this golden land, they wait and they play,
    til The Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.

    No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
    for here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
    Their limbs are restored, their health renewed.
    Their bodies have healed with strength imbued.

    They trot through the grass without even a care,
    til one day they whinny and sniff at the air.
    All ears prick forward, eyes sharp and alert.
    Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the herd.

    For just at that second, there’s no room for remorse.
    As they see each other…one person…one horse.
    So they run to each other, these friends from long past
    The time of their parting is over at last.

    The sadness they felt while they were apart
    has turned to joy once more in each heart.
    They nuzzle with a love that will last forever.
    And then, side-by-side, they cross over…together

  8. Debi on July 3, 2012 at 10:55 am

    There are no words that can help…I am so sorry to hear about your loss.

  9. Jane Shulman on July 3, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Just heard today and am so sorry for your loss, Stacy. You were kind to Vaquero in the difficult decisions concerning his welfare, and he was a very good boy, exceptionally darling. Tears are running down my face and I am sobbing as I watch the video of you two together. May God bless you in these trying times and give you hope for the future. Jane

  10. Nancy on July 3, 2012 at 4:46 am

    I never thought about it before, but now I’m convinced there is mud in heaven.

    • Stacy on July 3, 2012 at 9:39 am

      🙂 tears, that made me laugh and cry

  11. Amy on July 2, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    Stacy, I want to say I am so sorry to see this email. It is one of the hardest things to see one of your best buds with wobblers. We lost our dobe kid to it. It is so hard. My prayers are with you.

  12. Louwnique on May 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    So sorry. i keep you in my prayers

  13. Jody Brittain on May 25, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    I am so very sorry Stacy! You are in my prayers!

  14. Donkey Whisperer Farm on May 25, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Praying for peace, joy and happieness to return to your life. I am so sorry for your second loss of these magnificant brave horses. Melody

  15. […] from Stacy Westfall after she had to say goodbye to another beautiful horse so sad here is the link to her story “Life Is Not Fair.”  Sending the prayer of peace and joy to Stacy and her family during this most difficult time as […]

  16. Diane M on May 23, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Oh Stacy I am so sorry. Your love for him and the bond you shared is so clear. Watching that video & how you hugged him at the end..I broke down crying for you.
    I lost my mare of 27 a few months ago. While we surely weren’t at your level–we too rode bareback & bridleless. It is the ultimate trust between two souls.
    It still hurts, and always will at some level,because you never forget–but a time comes when you feel a measure of peace in your heart, and the edge of pain is not so sharp. Thank you for loving him enough to let him go. May peace come to your soul, as you have brought to his..

  17. Carol Chase on May 15, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    I’ve watched your videos in awe probably a million times. Your love for your horses is so obvious, as is their love for you. I know nothing anyone can say will take the hurt and pain away, but please know so many of us are with you in thought and prayer. I am so very, very sorry for your incredible loss of Vaquero (as well as your other precious horses, including Roxy!). Thank you for being such a wonderful, loving horsewoman!!!! God bless……..

  18. patsy24 on May 12, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    So sorry to hear of this. Grieving is good and seeped in love, I think. Loosing a horse is so hard – I find them to be cellular. Mix their majesty, innocence, service and beauty and it can feel overwhelming and something a non horse person can not really understand. I am sending you prayers of strength for what you have endured in these last 5 months and prayers of peace and happiness to your angels in heaven.

  19. Shanda Hooton on May 12, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    You are in my thoughts and in my prayers! My heart breaks for you and your family. I can only imagine how bad this has been! I am going to the barn to spend time with mine now and appreciate every minute I have with them!
    You will see them again Stacy, You gave them a wonderful life and I know they loved you as much as you did them.

  20. Laura Scott on May 10, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I haven’t been able to quit thinking about you and your loss all this week. There are just no words. I have been through this many times in my life. I’m 54 and lost count of how many horses I have had since age 2. But sitting at my desk at work, I can look up anytime and see this happy 18-year-old kid holding the reins of one of the most magnificent Tennessee Walking Horse mares ever. She was my show horse, my partner, my other half. I was devastated when she died from colic. But as I look at her now, big and black and bold… as you have said, I can smile because it happened. Time does heal to a point. And other horses come into our lives that can’t help but steal your heart away all over again. You will lose those horses perhaps too one day. I know that as I have been through it many times. Like Barbero’s owner said when they had to put him down, “Grief is the price we pay for love.” The harder you grieve, the greater the love. I also must tell you, that since I heard the news, my current companion and best friend Rio is getting extra love, treats and hugs every day. Vaquero taught you a lot. You can take that with you and grow from it. So sorry Stacy. – Laura Scott, Walnut Grove, MO

    • Sheryl Thacker on May 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      Laura…Excellent…very touching…Sheryl

  21. Jodie Garris on May 10, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I had just found you on Ellen D show.. and came to your sight… I was so excited to find you on UTube… In reading your thoughts on this sight my heart goes out to you..!! Its not very often in an 8 min video you learn so much about a strangers feelings.. and cry for their pain…! I’m sorry for your loss of such a wonderful animal/companion God created..! You have a gift to give to these animals..! There are so many horses just waiting for you to touch their lives and show them how much they are capable of… they just haven’t found you yet…you are blessed with this gift..! I’m glad I found this sight..! May you continue to touch horses lives and share your gift with them and other owners…!

  22. Angie Belock on May 10, 2012 at 9:56 am

    So sorry Stacy, Jesse, and family. No words will erase the pain. Vanquero has grown wings like an eagle and he is soaing in the grassy plains of heaven. He has no more pain and no more sorrow. He is playing with his friends and he is waiting like the others, patiently for you. God has many plans instore and Vanquero will graze until you come to his paddock once again. His life has taught so many how to fly. Your passion for your four legged family members is commendable. Keep doing what you do best. Keep flying to reach the sky. Vanquero will always be where your heart is the happiest. My deepest sympathy to you and your family. Don’t lose focus, don’t lose heart. When life gets tough God is holding you up.

  23. Stacey remember all horses are a gift from above and too have one as great as Vaquera is that one in a million but remeber this the great spirit gives and he also takes burt think of it this way when your time comes he will be there waiting for you in fact he might be the Black horse that will be sent too you to ride on your greatest journey of your life.

  24. Madison Boekes on May 9, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Dear Stacy,
    I feel your pain my Horse died that day too.:( You might remember us from the clinic with MileMakers and Jo Palivs. I was the 10 year old girl named Madi, that has a little chestnut named Love. Love sadly died from colic.I think Vaquero and Love will meet in haven and stick together forever!! We’re all so sad of our losses. 🙁

    • Stacy on May 10, 2012 at 10:12 pm

      Oh, NO! I do remember! That is so sad. I do hope they are racing together right now. So sorry for your loss 🙁

  25. Maria A. Melendez on May 8, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Sooo… sorry :'(

  26. sheilamorlas on May 8, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Stacy, I feel your pain, I am so sorry, such a loss for you and the world. May God Bless you and your family. You are in our prayers. We love you. You are such a blessing to all of us. What a gift you and your horses have given us, and we thank you for that. We will always remember Vaquero.

  27. Kathy Kopylec on May 8, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Wow! I`m so sorry for your loss my heart is breaking for you, I`m just coming out of a similar place my boy had surgery involed trucking him back and forth and the day he was release and well from the vets I drove in with him home and found my mare of 25 years down,2 weeks later I had to put her down, a short time after I drove in and found my young golden retriever very sick and had to put her down .an 2 weeks later I was walking my black lab and she fell down the out come was a month later I lost her too, and now my boy (meaning my paint Poncho) had been cleared of cancer he came off the trailer limping after all the x-rays he was diagnosed with navicular, the reason I shared all this is to say I still don`t understand why God would allow so much at one time and I was pretty darn angry at him, so yaeh sometimes god, life doesn`t make sense and my last year was horrible but like you I was sure blest with some very special animals that were given to me by God at least I know they had great care and a lot of love! And now there in a better place free of pain. I feel so blest to have seen you at the mass. equine affair with vaquero I drove up every day to see your clinics and I know God is very proud you cared and loved his sacred horses.

  28. Colleen Burke (@ColleenB8) on May 8, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    I am so very,very sorry for your loss. My heart is literally broken for you. The good ones are always taken soon. Thinking of you and your family both 2 legged and four legged tonight.

  29. cynontheworld on May 8, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    My experience is I don’t ever get over the loss of a loved one. Species doesn’t matter. I still cry over them all. But the acute pain does dull. They are still with me. I found this poem to be an excellent prayer, too. It helps.

    And if I go,
    while you’re still here…
    Know that I live on,
    vibrating to a different measure
    –behind a thin veil you cannot see through.
    You will not see me,
    so you must have faith.
    I wait for the time when we can soar together again,
    –both aware of each other.
    Until then, live your life to its fullest.
    And when you need me,
    Just whisper my name in your heart,
    …I will be there.

    You did the right thing, Stacy. It’s the kindness we can give them we can’t give our human loves ones. You did right by him.

  30. carrie on May 8, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Stacy it is not in one of his books. It is a quote that is attributed to him.

  31. Gail M. on May 8, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    My heart is breaking for you, Stacy, and the pain of such a loss. What a wonderful example of a true horsewoman you are! Praying that the Lord who knows your pain, will be your comfort.

  32. Glenda on May 8, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Truly sorry for your recent losses. One of my favorite quotes is by Dr. Suess: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

    • Stacy on May 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm

      I didn’t know that was Dr Suess, what book?

  33. Sandy Carr on May 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Stacy…I hope this saying consoles you, like so many others. Peace.

    “We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan.” —-Irving Townsend

  34. Christy White on May 8, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    I’ll add my condolences to all these. I have followed you and your horses for a few years and found them all to be magnificent! I think the best testament for you is that together, between horse and rider, the possibility of partnership at it’s finest was demonstrated over and over. YOU are magnificent as well. Bless you, bless your family. While these last months have broken your heart, remember that our hearts have to break so that they can grow and have more room for all the others who need our love. I wish for you a partner that embodies the heart and soul of these beauties who have gone.

  35. psalisbury3 on May 8, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    I’m going through a tough time right now with my own horse and reading this actually made me cry. Mine was a question of tumor versus abscess and after waiting a week for a culture to come back it was an abscess which required surgery. I cried for 3 days over this so I can’t imagine what you’re going through right now. My heart is with you….

  36. Sue on May 8, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    ‘Somewhere in time’s own space
    there must be some sweet pastured place
    where creeks sing on and tall trees grow
    Some paradise where horse go,
    for by the love that guides my pen,
    I know great horses live again.’

  37. Gnstr on May 8, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    I’m sorry you lost your horse. Sad. Yet maybe think of it as part of life, the same as those who have lost their children, parents, Partners. Easier said than done 🙁

  38. Beth Claes on May 8, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Stacey, I can truely understand your pain. I lost my OTTB, Little Bit, in March of 2010 from Colic, we tried surgery, but there had been too much damage. He was my bud, by best friend, I miss him dearly. I was able to get another OTTB and he had big shoes to fill, and has filled them perfectly. During that same year, my daughters horse Belle somehow got an esophagus tear and the humane thing to do was have her put down also. Losing 2 horses in our family in less then 7 months was terrible. It was so hard on my daughter, she waited a while before trying to fill her stall with another. I found myself tearing evertime I mentioned either of thier names for a long time. I also thought life was not fair, so many of my horse friends were able to have thier horses for a “lifetime” it seemed, so why not my family. All I know is, I treasured them when they were here and I treasure them in my heart now that they are gone. Stacey, is does get a little easier, and I still smile when I wear thier horse-tail braclet my daughter made from thier tails. I remember the fun we had, places we went and good times. The memories is what will get you through it. It is something us horse people know and feel. It is deep and it is GOOD! Our love for our horses!

  39. Charlotte thomas on May 8, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Prayers going out to you. Life is not fair, we must cherish every moment – you and Vaquero had many, and I remember how great you were together. God speed pretty boy!

  40. Shelly Stemm on May 8, 2012 at 8:40 am

    I am so very very sorry for your loss it made me treasure my girl a little more. What you have accomplished with all of your horses is amazing and I can’t wait to see what else you will do. Praying for you and yours during this difficult time.

  41. Ralf Schulz on May 8, 2012 at 7:36 am

    Shipyard that trust in the Lord not go away, no matter what happens, but think of the great rewards that come with it! Hebrews 10:35 I´m so sorry, regards simone

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