Last time I was in Amish Indiana, I drove my friend Ruth to Menard’s in Goshen to buy a vacuum cleaner. Since she’d never bought one before, she was glad for my input! (Note: They plug a vacuum into a gas-powered generator.) The Amish don’t have a lot of carpets—they like linoleum the best—but a few families will share a vacuum cleaner for those times when it’s needed.
What does this have to do with losing a good horse, you may wonder?
I was using my husband’s pickup truck, which I’ve driven only a few times. He’s very fond of it, and he doesn’t even like dust on it, so he rarely allows it out of his sight. As we parked at the far end of the lot as I had promised to do, I explained to Ruth that he is very fond of this truck; I showed her the “pinstripes” that he had hired someone to paint on it.
She remarked that her husband Glenn was similarly fond of their main buggy horse. He had raised the horse himself, and she said he once remarked, “I wouldn’t take $5,000 for this horse.” (Typical prices are $1,500 to $3,000.) Whenever one of their children needed a buggy horse, he always held that one back if he could, and sent them out with a different one.
A few weeks prior, Glenn’s special horse had died from West Nile Virus. The horse was only four years old—the prime of life for a buggy horse. She said her husband didn’t usually get emotional about animals, but this had been a hard thing for him to take.
They had noticed the previous Friday that the horse seemed lame in one back leg. By Sunday they realized something was very wrong, and they suspected West Nile Virus, which had killed a few other horses in the area. First thing Monday morning Glenn phoned the veterinarian, but she didn’t show up. He called four times that day, asking her to come as soon as she could. By the time she arrived, at 8 in the evening, it was too late, and the horse was too far gone. Ruth said that Glenn couldn’t stop wondering whether his favorite horse could have been saved if the vet had arrived sooner.
There is a vaccine for horses which prevents West Nile Virus, but it’s very expensive. The vet said the best thing to do is to keep the horses pastured as far as possible away from the woods. At any rate, it was too late for Glenn’s favorite horse.