By Suzanne Wetanson
I am a writer. a sculptor and was at one time an avid equestrian. However passion exceeded wisdom and talent and I no longer ride horses – I sculpt them.
At my home and studio in Watermill, I have an acre of property with two corals and a barn which I donate to the Amaryllis Horse Rescue Society for use. Under the tireless guidance of Chrissy, horses are rescued from slaughter houses, from race tracks or anywhere a horse is abandoned. One such horse was Big Ben. When he came to us he was twenty- four years old, black Belgian workhorse. His massive neck and head arched high above the four other horses.
Big Ben labored all his life in the Amish Country. You could still see the scars from the leather hitching straps along his back. Despite his hard life and obvious abuse, he had the kindest eyes and was friendly and gentle as could be when he’d trot over to the fence at the sight of us. We rubbed his soft nose and offered a carrot or lump of sugar, which he, so politely and graciously, took.
There was nothing aggressive about Ben. He used his size protectively. During winter gales Ben was a spectacle standing in front of the other horses taking the brunt of the storm: his black wavy mane over one shoulder, his red blanket white with snow. I was reminded of Bucephalus, the legendary warhorse of Alexander The Great – a giant with a valiant heart.
Big Ben was with us for three years. In the last year he had difficulty walking. Then one winter weekend when we came to the house there was no Ben at the fence. No Ben in the barn. Chrisssy said he died, his heart. We miss him.
I sculpted a life-sized head of Big Ben – ears back, mane flying. It is mounted on the lawn outside the coral. Perhaps Big Ben looks down and remembers galloping freely. I know, with my hands and his heart, Big Ben lives. I am happy that in the last years of his life I was able give him the love, comfort and respect he deserves.