Oct. 27, 2004 — Two-time American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Superhorse Rugged Lark died Oct. 26 due to complications of colic.
Owner Carol Harris said the 1981 bay stallion was found down with colic the morning of Oct. 25, and after trying treatments all day to overcome it, she decided to put him down around 2:30 a.m. Oct. 26.
“His vital signs were not good and the medicine wasn’t helping, so I chose to put him down because he was suffering so much,” she said.
Harris said it was the first time “Lark” had ever been sick.
“He was such a healthy horse,” she said. “He didn’t know what pain was. That was the hardest part. Seeing him in so much pain and seeing him suffer was unbearable.”
Although surgery was an option, Harris felt it was too much to put the 23-year-old stallion through.
“It wouldn’t have been fair to him,” she said. “He had given so much to us in his life, he didn’t deserve to suffer another minute. Only thing we would have been doing is saving him for ourselves. Once I made that decision to put him down, I felt peaceful. I knew I was doing the right thing.”
Harris buried Lark on her Bo-Bett Farm in Reddick, Fla.
“I couldn’t believe it, but there was a crowd here to say goodbye to him,” she said. “Everyone sang ‘Amazing Grace.’ He had a funeral, even though it wasn’t planned.”
Lark was by Harris’ thoroughbred stallion Really Rugged and out of Alisa Lark by Leolark. He earned 326 performance points in his show career and was the first American Quarter Horse to earn the coveted Superhorse title twice, in 1985 and 1987.
One of the most versatile horses, Lark excelled in reining, hunter events, western riding, trail, western pleasure and pleasure driving. He passed his multi-talents on to his offspring with two of his sons, The Lark Ascending and Look Whos Larken, capturing the Superhorse title as well. This made him the first Superhorse to sire a Superhorse.
Once retired, Lark served as an ambassador for AQHA, making special appearances at the AQHA World Championship Show, the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and the 1999 Special Olympics World Games in Raleigh, N.C.
The stallion was also immortalized as a best-selling Breyer® model and as a bronze statue, along with Harris, which is located in front of the AQHA Heritage Center and Museum in Amarillo, Texas. With his easy-going personality and his bridle demonstrations, Lark attracted multitudes of fans, who regularly sent mail or visited him at Bo-Bett Farm, even up to two days before his death.
“He was a super star,” Harris said. “He was like living with Elvis. He’s going to be missed. There’re no two ways about it. He’s going to be missed by all of us.”
And although he’ll have foals on the ground next spring and Harris has some frozen semen put away, she said there will only be one Rugged Lark.
“I could never do with another horse what I did with him,” she said. “It was a lifetime of effort. It was a lifetime of joy. It was a lifetime of learning. It was such a wonderful happy learning experience. I don’t think there will ever be another one like him. But if there is, I would love to see him.”