Although I’ve only had the pleasure of knowing Koko for the past 12 years, she was my husband’s best friend, confidante and riding partner for 22. Born on September 20, 1991 in Kentucky, Dreamwind Mariah was out of a mare named Little Bit by the multi champion Rocky Mountain Horse Clemons Sonny. In a pasture somewhere in WI Greg met the little 4 year old chocolate mare. He walked out of the pasture and she left the herd to follow him. She chose Greg for her own. She was shipped to her new home in PA.
I’ve never seen a stronger bond between horse and human. She’d see him and her eyes lite up. Koko would hear Greg’s spurs jingle and her head shot around to look for him. She’s been known to untie herself to look for him if he took too long to get back to her. He felt the same about her.
Their partnership took them on thousands of miles of trails, parades, paper chases, wagon trains and so much more. Koko was an angel when she had to be and a bit of a demon when she didn’t. Gentle as a lamb with little kids on her, careful with the barn cats and my young horses, yet she could buck with the best of them over something she really didn’t want to do. Her nickname of Koko Loco was well deserved. The 13.2h dynamo was game for almost anything Greg wanted to try but her passion was being a trail horse. She had more heart than any horse I’ve ever known and was tough as nails. When most horses would tire, Koko wanted to keep going (& going, & going).
I didn’t ride Koko often, which was fine with her. She didn’t want anyone to ride her except Greg. Koko and I had a different relationship. I took care of her when she was injured and wouldn’t let Greg do it. She made sure she got her cuddles from me every time we went to the barn. I loved her like she was mine. She adored our yearling Nick. We’ve never seen Koko let any horse as close to her as Nick could. She was never far and was ready to protect him if necessary.
In 22 years Koko was very ill once when she was younger and years later scratched her cornea once. In early spring Koko was slightly lame. Stone bruise? Abscess? We treated for an abscess, but one never broke. The lameness went away. We put her on a joint supplement because she seemed a bit stiff. It helped a great deal, but she was a bit lame again. The vet said arthritis in both hinds – a stifle and a hock. Continue supplements and meds once a day. This combination worked wonders and Greg & Koko we’re back to light riding. On and off all summer Koko continued with lameness issues from her arthritis or abscesses. She was retired and unhappy. She couldn’t understand why she was brushed and given treats, but not being ridden. The spark in her eyes diminished. After blood work and X-rays Koko had Cushing, founder in all 4 feet and severe separation of the white lines in all 4. Although she was on meds for the Cushing, she was going to be very prone to abscesses. She was loosing weight and looking her age. The last was the worst. She was so lame we couldn’t tell which hoof it was in. Every night we soaked and wrapped. It finally drained but she was still very lame. One night she was laying down and we could barely get her up. Koko never let anyone see her laying down. She could barely stand to be soaked and wrapped. Apparently she was in so much pain the bute wasn’t helping.
November 11, 2017 – It was a beautiful fall morning. The sun was shining bright and there was a light breeze. The leaves on the trees were lit up with color. Koko was in the chute between her pasture and the ring when we got there. The gate leading to the hay field was open but she had no desire to leave the area she was in. Nick was in the pasture but staying close to her. She saw Greg and her head shot up. She watched his every move as he approached. We gave both of them treats and said our final good-byes as we waited for the vet to arrive. Greg’s heart was breaking as he said goodbye to a dear friend, true partner and a horse of a lifetime. The vet arrived and we needed to get her into the hay field. She could barely walk the short distance and it was excruciating to watch. Once in the hay field she started to graze. All of a sudden her head shot up and she stared down the field where her old pasture mate was buried. She spark came back in her eyes and she looked so regal. Just as suddenly as her head went up, it went down and she was grazing for the last time.
Koko is buried next to he pasture mate at the home she loved. She’s still close to Nick and we can visit her grave. Goodbye dear friend. You’re an extraordinary little mare and a very special horse for Greg … a once in a lifetime horse. You’ll forever have a very special place in our broken hearts.