Levi, the massive Belgian draft horse who became a Louisville fixture before his search for a new home landed him in east Boulder County, was euthanized last week after suffering a fractured shoulder.

"Everyone is devastated," said Denise Ramunda, who was Levi's owner -- but prefers to call herself Levi's "mom."

"For me, he was a part of my every day and every night," she said. "My whole life revolved around him."

Ramunda said Levi was discovered unable to walk last week in the middle of the pasture where he grazed at the corner of 76th Street and South Boulder Road. A veterinarian examined the horse and found a fractured shoulder that completely paralyzed Levi's leg.

No one is sure how Levi sustained the injury, but, last Thursday, Ramunda said a veterinarian had to put Levi down, just a week shy of the towering horse's 23rd birthday.

"It's beyond words," Ramunda said. "I didn't leave his side."

Ramunda adopted Levi from the Flatirons Equestrian Center, where he went after years working as a carriage horse on the 16th Street Mall in Denver. Ramunda's daughter rode at Flatirons Equestrian, and when the center was looking to sell Levi, she adopted him and kept him at the equestrian center.

'He touched so many people'

For years, Levi roamed the pasture near the corner of 96th Street and Dillon Road in Louisville and became a local fixture.

"People knew him from everywhere," Ramunda said. "I've had people calling me. He touched so many people. He was just a beautiful guy, the sweetest guy."

Levi made news last year after the pasture was set to be developed into a new tennis complex. For months, Ramunda tried to find a home big enough for Levi and her other horse -- a quarter horse named Little King.

Last summer, Bill Hofgard saw a newspaper article about Levi and Little King and emailed Ramunda, offering the barn and 5-acre lot on his property in east Boulder County.

Levi the draft horse, left, and Little King, a quarter horse, walk around Bill Hofgard’s pasture last summer. Levi was put down last week after
Levi the draft horse, left, and Little King, a quarter horse, walk around Bill Hofgard's pasture last summer. Levi was put down last week after suffering a fractured shoulder, according to owner Denise Ramunda. ( RACHEL WOOLF )

"I enjoyed having him here," Hofgard said. "It was sad to see him go. He was a very good horse, very friendly."

Ramunda -- a single mother who made sure to visit the horses every day -- said she was grateful that Levi had a permanent home in his last year.

"It's been so great for them to have all that pasture, they love it," Ramunda said. "Bill is so wonderful and his family has been so wonderful. It's been great for them to have all that pasture."

Levi was buried in the pasture he called home for the past year.

"He'll always be there," Ramunda said.

She said Little King has not gotten over the death of his friend, and still runs through the pasture neighing and looking for Levi.

"It's heartbreaking," Ramunda said. "He stood with him the whole time we were with the vet and stood over him the whole time and didn't leave his side."

Added Hofgard, "Little King looks like he's lonely."

'My sunshine boy'

Hopefully he won't be for long. Ramunda said she already has her eye on another Belgian draft horse up for adoption, and will be going to look at it this weekend.

"He can carry on Levi's tradition," Ramunda said. "Bill's thrilled to have another big guy.

Hofgard agreed, and said he gladly would welcome another horse to join Little King on his pasture.

"It would be nice to have another big horse here," he said. "They're no trouble. (Ramunda) takes good care of them."

But while another horse soon may roam the same fields, Ramunda and Hofgard said there will never be another like Levi.

"He was very friendly, just a gentle giant," Hofgard said.

Ramunda cited French poet Anatole France, who once said, "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."

"I'll always say, 'He's my sunshine boy,'" Ramunda said. "He brought sunshine to my life. He was the love of my life."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329 or byarsm@dailycamera.com.