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D’artagnan, our Gentle Giant

D’artagnan, Our Gentle Giant;

The Story of a Special Shire Draft Horse


Dee’s Beginnings

D’artagnan (pronounced Dar-tan’-yon) is a large, beautiful, Shire draft horse, a British breed, and one of the best horses my husband’s family has ever owned.  My mother-in-law bought D’artaganan (‘Dee’ for short) when he was only two years old, and this year he turned 17, so as you can see, he has been a part of their family for most of his life.  Aside from his dashing good looks and his powerful muscles,  Dee has a laid-back personality that everyone adores, and is so calm and well mannered that practically anyone can ride him. 

This is Dee a few years back, taking my mother-in-law and I on a little stroll down a quiet road in the mountains. 

Alpha & Omega

For most of Dee’s life, they have used him as a security horse for a company we work for called Alpha & Omega. 

Can you spot Dee carrying my husband, “Mr. Teediddlydee,” as they get ready to start their evening shift?  If you guessed the third horse from the left, you are correct!  They are joined with all of the other “weapon-free” security officers and horses for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in southern California.  On this particular night, there was a huge 70 mph dust storm that lasted until the next morning.  For their protection, lots of the riders wore masks and goggles and for the horse’s safety, all of the horses were required to wear fly masks to protect their eyes from flying debris.


Dee was highly sought after by everyone at Alpha and Omega, not only because of his larger size and good looks, but also because he was so well-behaved and “bomb proof.”  This means that if anything unexpected happened, like a big bang or something that would scare most horses, Dee would stay put and not take off running, or start kicking, or rear up on his hind legs in fear. 


Here Is Dee and Mr. Teediddlydee, on a hill overlooking the campgrounds of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival , which was designed to be a modern day, re-creation of Woodstock.  


More than 250,000 people attend the Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival every year and it takes a special horse to be able to do this job.  Coachella can be a very tough place to patrol because of the huge masses of rock and roll fans combined with lots of alcohol and drugs.  Dee was always one that could be trusted to stay calm and react only to his rider’s commands. He is extra special!


Dee and Mr. ‘Teediddlydee’ are joined by their partner for the night.  For safety reasons, all of the officers are required to have partners during shifts.


After their shifts, Dee would get a good, refreshing rest in his stall with lots of hay to eat.  


You can tell Dee is enjoying his three days off romping in the soft, sandy paddock with our other horse ‘Sassy’.  They get this rest after a long four days of patrol, which is much needed for both the horse and the rider.


A change of Shifts

After a relaxing few days off, it’s back to work!  Now it’s my turn on Dee!  We have joined up with our partner for the night shift. You can see how much bigger Dee is compared to a regular sized horse. 


D’artagnan, Our Gentle Giant 

Back Home


When the concerts are over, we make the trek back to Arizona to resume our normal life.  One of our favorite things to do back home is to take the horses to the river so we can ride with friends out in the country. 

Dee is a perfect gentleman as he takes my friend on a lovely ride along the river’s edge.

Learning to Pull a Wagon


One year, I surprised my future mother-in-law by teaching Dee how to drive and pull a cart.  Here he is trying on his new harness!


Dee was such a fast learner and did so well!  I am sitting behind him, training him on his first try at pulling the training cart.  


After learning how to pull the cart, Dee graduated to the wagon! Isn’t he handsome?


I preferred training him on the quieter country roads around my neighborhood because there were very few distractions.



When the Christmas season arrived, Dee was finally ready to pull his first wagon, filled with people, for our annual Christmas light viewing around our neighborhoods! 

We usually provide this special treat every year for family and friends.  I drove the two white horses pulling the wagon in the front, while my mother-in-law and Dee brought up the rear behind us, pulling a second wagon. 

I love all the sparkling Christmas lights, the sound of jingle bells and the clip-clop sounds of the horse’s hooves  on the pavement during this time of year!  It really sets the mood for me and gets me in the holiday spirit!

In the video below, you can get the feel of the sight and sounds of the calm evening on a horse ride at Christmas.

D’artagnan, Our Gentle Giant 

Getting Married

When Mr. ‘Teediddlydee’ and I finally married, it was only fitting to let Dee take us around for a spin after we were hitched!


Yep, that is me driving the wagon. 

Although Mr. Teediddlydee is a very experienced horseman, I am more skilled at training and driving the horses, which I have done professionally for years.  


This is one of my favorite pictures of that special day!  I had made this wooden “Just Hitched” banner to drape across the back of our buggy. Isn’t it cute?

(If you would like to make one just like it, click HERE for complete tutorial)


D’artagnan, Our Gentle Giant 

Working in Texas

Later that year, Mr. Teediddlydee and I were needed in Houston, TX for a month-long work shift for the security company we work for (Alpha & Omega).  So, we hooked up the trailer, loaded up the horses, and off we went! 

From left to right: Teddy, Sassy, and Dee.


Here is Mr. Teediddlydee giving Dee a nice long drink during a pit stop.


We finally made it to the facility in Houston!  As soon as we let the horses loose into the pasture, they took off running!  They were so glad to finally be there!!


Here comes Dee bringing up the rear!


He is such a beautiful horse!


Lots of green grass = happy horses!!!


The three amigos!


At the “Mane Attraction ” Salon

Wanting the horses to look their best, I always give them a full grooming session before each shift starts.  When I’m finished, they always look amazing (and I’m always a mess afterwards!).


In Texas, all the horses are required to have braided manes for a neat, professional look, before each shift starts.  I always give him grain as a treat to munch on while I braid his mane.

Dee’s mane looks great!  He is now ready for a shift! 

I rode Sassy while Mr. Teediddlydee rode Dee.  Look how stunning and dignified Dee looks!  


It’s break time!  Riding a horse for hours on end is very tiring for both the horse AND the rider.  We always look forward to break time during our shifts!


D’artagnan, Our Gentle Giant 

Everyone Loves a Parade

Last year, Dee pulled our wagon for the traditional, 4th of July parade in Heber/Overguard, AZ.  Here he is all shined up and ready to go!  That’s me hiding behind him (my legs anyway), getting him all hitched up after decorating the wagon with all the patriotic decor.


Heber is a small rural town, nestled in the tall pines where it is cool and refreshing!  It is a welcome change from the hot, dry temperatures we are accustomed to in Phoenix.

And we are off!   Happy 4th of July!


Good boy Dee! Doesn’t he look magnificent?


He is always the star of the show!


D’artagnan, Our Gentle Giant 

Dee Gets Sick

After the parade, a couple months went by when I noticed Dee was starting to cough and pant heavily (like an asthmatic), and he was also was losing weight.  He started to have some neurological symptoms as well.  For instance, when Dee walked in a straight line, his hind end would swing out to the left as he walked, like he was side winding.  It was the weirdest thing and I was getting very concerned.


You can see that his rear right hoof is swinging too far to the left.


When the farrier came out to trim his feet, Dee couldn’t even hold himself up to balance.  It took two men to hold him steady while the third one trimmed his feet…poor boy.


Dee goes to the Equine Hospital

We ended up taking him to the equine hospital in town. 


Here they did lots of testing and also took many X-Rays to hopefully see what was going on with poor Dee.


One of the vet assistants is holding Dee and getting him ready for X-Rays.


We were lucky because the vet and all of her assistants were there that day to help out.


The X-ray machine is a huge apparatus that slides along a track from the ceiling so that the vet can move it around to take pictures from different angles.  From the look on Dee’s face, he wasn’t so sure what to think of this weird-looking contraption!


Hold on Dee, just a few more X-Rays and you’re done!


Dee was so good! 


Guessing Game

All of the X-rays came out normal, which ruled out many diseases, but didn’t pin point a specific disease either.  So, after a lot of debate, we decided to treat Dee for a disease called EPM, which can affect the brain and cause problems like Dee was experiencing.  This was not a diagnosis. Our vet was making an educated guess and just wanted to see if the meds would help him.

The very expensive medication arrived in the mail a week later and I started to treat Dee with it.


It was a long waiting game, and we didn’t know for sure if EPM was what he had or not.  It would take time to see if Dee would start to improve and all we could do was hope that we chose the best route for him.  Time was of the essence!


Two months later, the farrier came out again to trim Dee’s hooves.  When he went to lift his back foot, he surprised us all!  Dee was able to stand and balance all by himself!!!  What a miracle!  He had also gained all the weight back that he had lost and looked so much healthier!  Dee was improving since he started on the new medication, so we concluded that he probably did have EPM.


After six months of treatment with EPM meds, Dee was no longer side-winding and was, in fact, walking completely normal.  Unfortunately, his heavy asthma like breathing had not improved.  I tried everything including albuterol treatments, administered with a home-made nebulizer.


D’artagnan, Our Gentle Giant

Dee Retires

Unfortunately, Dee’s breathing never did return to normal.  As a result, we have decided to retire this much-loved horse.  He has certainly earned it! 

Although Dee breathes a little heavier than he used to, it doesn’t really seem to bother him.  His appetite is good, and he loves kicking his heels up once or twice, and having a good roll on the ground, when he’s turned out into the pasture every evening.


Ahhhh, that feels soooo good! 


Dee is now a horse of leisure and can run and play if he wants……



Or stop and eat when he’s hungry! 


D’artagnan, Our Gentle Giant 

Beauty and the Beast

A month ago we did a photo-shoot with Dee and the granddaughter of a good friend.  After the photos were taken, we were amazed when the finished images were returned to us.  They were absolutely adorable!


Dee, of course, was the perfect gentleman as each shot was taken.


Oh, sooo cute!


He was so gentle with this little child, that I didn’t have to worry about a thing during the whole photo shoot.


A kiss for you, dearest Dee!


Best of friends.


So sweet…


A young girl’s dream come true!




Such a cute smile!




So adorable!


A gorgeous view of Red Mountain, a beautiful child and some adorable bare toes!  Thank you sweet Dee for a wonderful day!


Thanks Dee, for the memories!  You have lived a life full of faithful service and many accomplishments, and have given us your best; your tremendous power and strength, your beauty and dignified stature, your patience, your tolerance of all things, and, most importantly, your sweet and gentle soul.  Enjoy your retirement Dee!


If you enjoyed this story, please let me know in the comments below! I love to hear from you! 


I would also love it if you would pin the picture below!  Thank you!!! 🙂

D’artagnan, our Gentle Giant


Sharing at these great link parties:

Busy MondayInspire Me Tuesday.  The Hearth & Soul.  Metamorphosis Monday.  All About HomeFollow the Yellow Brick HomeYou’re the Star.  Unlimited Monthly Link Party.  Inspire Me Monday.  Fabulous Party.  Inspire Me Monday.  Wonderful Wednesday.  Creative Muster PartyWow Me Wednesday.  Your Whims WednesdayTuesdays with a Twist.   Wonderful Wednesday.  Creative CraftsShare Your Style.  To Grandma’s House We GoCenterpiece WednesdayVintage Charm Party.

More great link parties I’m sharing at:

Thinking Out Loud Thursday.  Homestead Blog Hop.  Party in Your PJsArtsy Fartsy PartySimple Homestead Blog Hop.   Thursday Favorite Things.  Grace at Home.  Keep in TouchEncouraging Hearts and Home.  Celebrate Your Story.  Funtastic FridayFriday Favorites.  Farmhouse FridayFunky Junk’s PartyHappy Pink Saturday. Home Matters.   Friday With Friends.  Dare to Share.  Saturday Sparks.  Create, Bake, Grow & Gather A Morning Cup of Joe!  Farmhouse Friday.  Happiness is Homemade.  Snickerdoodle Create Bake Make.  Inspire Me Monday.  Love Your Creativity.  Sundays on Silverado.


DIY Patriotic Picket Fence Bunting


Sammy’s Star Spangled Banner


  1. what a wonderful post, and amazing creature and friend. I love hearing about your life and caring for such a gorgeous animal. Hope he lives a long life in retirement!

  2. Manelle

    Super story! I had to read every single line. You certainly had my full attention. Great pictures, too!

  3. Dotte Colligan

    Such a noble and distinguished looking guy!! So glad he rallied and your were able to
    treat him. You’re so blessed to be able to love and care for such a wonderful creature.
    Happy Retirement Dee!! You deserve it…

    • Tee

      Thank you, Dotte, for your sweet thoughts regarding Dee! I agree! We are blessed!

  4. Dave

    What a majestic animal! Your story about Dee is well written with great photography. It looks like he enjoys having his picture taken. A couple of things that stood out that I especially liked. The picture of the young girl standing in front of him was a really nice touch. I also liked your coverage of the visit to the vet and included the details. Dee is fortunate to have you as a caregiver. He’s in good hands. Thanks for the great story!

    • Tee

      Thank you, Dave, for your sweet comments! Dee is very special to me and he’s easy to love. Animals always have my heart! <3

  5. So much fun to take a look back at all Dee’s accomplishments and gifts of service. He is gorgeous! I know dogs and cats get all the glory sometimes but I swear our country would have never gotten so far without the love and hard work of horses. They are truly amazing animals. Hope his retirement days are richly blessed, CoCo

    • Tee

      Thank you so much, CoCo, for your kind words. I agree, horses are hard working and don’t get a lot of attention, like dogs and cats do. Dee is especially endearing to us. Thank you for visiting today!

  6. This horse loving girl so much enjoyed this post. Dee is gorgeous and you have given him such a good life. My heart sank when I read that he was sick and then I was so relieved to read that the EPM meds helped him. The pictures with your friend’s granddaughter are stunning!

    • Tee

      Thank you, Paula, for your sweet thoughts! I’m glad you enjoyed the story! 🙂

  7. Lynda

    Loved this story. So happy to hear that Dee is doing better and he is enjoying retirement. He definitely earned it. I love Drafts. We had Belgians for many years. We showed them at local shows and they were our large pets. LOL! After our last horse passed on about 15 years ago, we decided not to get anymore, for now. I hope when I retire in about 5 years, we can get another horse or two. The photo shoot turned out great! Maybe that will be Dee’s part time gig. 🙂

  8. Susan

    What a wonderful and very special animal! I’m sure that his disposition is part of his charm. Thank you so much for sharing his story.

  9. Such a pretty horse and does look very gentle. I have been afraid of horses all my life but hubby grew up with them on a farm. I recently got up close to our neighbor’s horses and even petted them. I felt so brave!! Thanks so much for linking up with me at the Unlimited Link Party 27. Pinned!

  10. Ann

    Love your story and Dee! I rode quite a bit when I was younger and you brought back fond memories. Thank you for sharing at Party In Your PJ’s.

    • Tee

      Thank you, Ann! I’m glad it brought back good memories for you! I appreciate your kind words!

      • Ann

        I also will be featuring this story Tuesday evening on Party In Your PJ’s!

  11. What an amazing animal!

  12. What a beautiful horse and sweet story! I love the photos from your wedding and the little girl too! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm!

  13. Dee is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing this heart-warming story about Dee. I enjoyed reading all about him and his accomplishments. It was sad to read about when he got sick, but thank God you figured it out and he got better. He’s lucky to have you as you are to have him 🙂
    Happy retirement Dee.

    • Tee

      Thank you, Kimberly, for your sweet thoughts. So glad you enjoyed the story. I really have a soft spot for him, can you tell? 🙂

  14. Thanks for sharing with us I’m featuring you this week! To Grandma’s house we go!

  15. hortencia valentin

    love love love this story although i’ve never ridden a horse or owned one i love horses always had as a child always wanted one since i saw the movie Snowfire on wgn with frazier thomas

    • Tee

      Thank you, Hortencia, for your kind words! I’m sorry you have never been able to ride a horse. It has been one of my most wished for dreams that finally came true! <3

  16. He’s so handsome and those photos are stunning. He really does seem like a gentle giant and that he’s had a good, full life. When we boarded our horse we became great friends with owners of a Gypsy Vanner. I road “Cupcake” a lot and loved her. I called her Thunderumpus because when we galloped it sounded like thunder to me. LOL. I love and miss being at the barn. We have a draft horse now. Actually a Mustang from the BLM and he’s the best. Next time y’all ever come close to Houston, feel free to stop by and let your horses run and eat in our pastures. I know our Sherlock would love it. All he has now is a donkey to keep him company and some cows in a neighboring pasture. Thanks for linking this up on Farmhouse Friday. I loved reading every word!

    • Tee

      Thank you, Cindy, for your sweet thoughts about D’artagan! Wow, Gypsy Vanners are beautiful horses and very expensive! How fun to be able to ride one like you did! We will have to connect with you if we ever pass through your neck of the woods! <3 🙂

  17. What a wonderful and touching story!! What a magnificent horse and a true gentle giant…As someone who has never been around horses, I am amazed at all that you shared as to taking care and training of horses….Thanks so much for sharing…And thanks for taking the time to stop by and visit!! Stay safe, healthy and happy!!

    • Tee

      Thank you, Debbie! I’m glad you enjoyed reading about Dee! I appreciate your sweet thoughts and for your visit today!

  18. CONGRATS! Your post is FEATURED at my Unlimited Link Party 28!

  19. A heartwarming and informative story, wonderfully illustrated with photographs. Happy pastures to your dear Dee.

  20. Tee, I’m so glad you included D’Artagnan in last week’s Share Your Style posts… I was so happy to feature with his story at SYS #306 this past week! I didn’t read the whole post at the time but did just now and I’m so sad that he had to retire. I know the giants don’t live forever, and at 17 he is getting old. I’m glad the EMP medicine worked and that his balance is back. I imagine he is enjoying his retirement but also misses going off with you! Maybe he can do more wedding photo shoots so he gets to be around people, something he seems to really enjoy? 🙂

    When you go out to feed Dee this evening, give him a hug from this still-horse-crazy girl now down in Texas… I rode Tennessee Walkers when we moved to California and went to a couple of horse riding camps back then. Still love to ride when I can! I did drive a buggy a couple of times, too. Lots of fun!!

    Big hugs to you and I hope to see you later at SYS,
    Barb 🙂

    • Tee

      Yes, it is sad for us to have to retire Dee, but he has been such a wonderful pet for us and we have so many awesome memories with him. His life will be one of leisure from now on and he is certainly very photogenic. How fun that you used to ride Tennessee walkers. Thanks, Barb, for your sweet thoughts and comments. Hugs!! <3

  21. Amy

    Loved this post. I was just looking at Shires the other day. I love those big guys

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