In November 2016, Connecticut Draft Horse Rescue welcomed in a very special horse. Melody was an aged Morgan mare who had served as the riderless horse (symbolically carrying empty boots reversed in the stirrups) at more than 700 military funerals over the past decade. Melody and her owner, Marine Corps veteran Richard Kowalker, were made famous a few years ago when their trailer was damaged the night before they were due at a funeral for a former WWII Marine. Rick, Melody and a borrowed horse trekked 15 miles on foot through the night to fulfill their commitment. A fundraiser later purchased a trailer to allow Rick and Melody to continue their important mission. In the months prior to Melody's arrival, Rick's health had declined and he became unable to care for himself and Melody. He was hospitalized then transferred to a nursing home. His family couldn't continue to manage Melody's care while focusing on Rick's needs. We were honored to offer Melody a safe haven where Rick was able to make weekly visits to see his treasured mare again.
On Saturday, June 16th, Melody got her wings at the age of 33.
Her body had been failing, and often required assistance getting up from the ground. That night, after several hours with veterinary assistance, she had no fight left in her. We even played a YouTube video interview of Rick so she could hear her daddy's voice. She picked up her head and looked around for him, but then put it down and closed her eyes. Shortly before midnight we set her free while she listened to her daddy’s voice on the video. We know that she will wait for him at the Rainbow Bridge. After honoring the lives of so many veterans at their military funerals, we're sure they'll be saluting her arrival in heaven. It was an honor to serve and comfort sweet Melody in her final years.
A memorial service for Melody is planned for Saturday, June 30th, at our farm. Rick and his family have made an incredibly generous offer to CDHR for a matching gift of $50,000 if we can also raise that amount in donations. CDHR has been fundraising for the land purchase and barn construction on Autumn Ridge, the new farm we currently rent and would like to make our forever home. The funds raised in Melody's memory will go towards the construction of our barn which will include a display of Rick's Marine dress blues, his military saddle, and newspaper clippings with pictures to remember and honor the lives of Melody and Rick.