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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sad to the core....

Yesterday started out like any other day. An hour into our day, my daughter noticed her horse out in the pasture laying down. My husband had gone out just an hour earlier to feed the horses and they were fine. I thought at first when I looked out the window that she was just resting, but I told my daughter to go out and call her. She came to the window and told me that Sadie would not get up. Still thinking that she was just resting in the sun, I went out to check on her, sure that would she get up and be fine. Well, she wasn't just resting. Something was very wrong. I sent my daughter into the house to get blankets to cover her with. I called my husband from my cell phone to tell him that something was very wrong with our horse. He called the vet and came right home. Four vets arrived soon after to take care of our horse and they were great. The best vets you could ask for. Our beloved Sadie died yesterday- there was nothing they could do to save her. In the space of three hours she went from fine to deathly sick and she was a very healthy horse. What happened? It was a kind of colic that hits without warning and hits fast. There are no signs, it just happens and it is bad from the start. They told us there was no way we could have known it was going to happen, that there would have been no warning signs that it was coming, and that we had done everything right and everything we could have possibly done. They said that this kind of colic hits only 5% of horses and there is just no real explanation for why it gets so bad so fast. It wasn't that she wasn't eating correctly. We keep our horses on just hay in the winter because hay helps them maintain their body heat better than grain. The vet told us that horses are just poorly made and some horses digestive systems can go very wrong very quickly. Unfortunately, Sadie was one of those horses. One of the vets told us that her first horse died from the exact kind of colic in about the same space of time.

When they got to our pasture, the first thing they did was give Sadie pain medication before they began their examination. They did everything, tried everything... nothing helped. They told us what our options were and none of them had a good outcome- there was no way she was going to make it, no matter what they did. So they made our Sadie comfortable and gave us time to say good bye to her. My daughter and I stayed with her to the end along with the vets. My husband, bless his heart, he couldn't do it. He went to the house and told me afterward that he cried like a baby. My husband is a strong man too. My daughter and I were crying so hard we made one of the vets cry too. Sadie was peaceful when she left us. She was only 12 years old, still very young for a horse and she was our daughter's first horse. Below is a photo of Sadie and our daughter the day we brought her home.

A sorrel Quarter Horse mare. Gosh, she was so beautiful and so sweet. We loved to watch her run through the pasture and hear the sound of her hooves as she ran. It sounded like the rumble of thunder in the distance. We loved her very much and we will miss her always.

This morning I went down to the barn to let our other horse out for the day. The first thing I saw when I walked into the barn was Sadie's lead line hanging in its usual place. My whole being sunk. I took her lead line, hung it over her stall door, and stood there and cried. I left her lead line over her stall door. Don't ask me why, I don't really know why, but it seems fitting, a way of honoring the horse that once lived in that stall. A way of saying we will never forget you.

Our other horse, Starlight, is in the stall next to Sadie's. We had taken her to see Sadie yesterday so she could say goodbye too. When my husband tried to take her back to the barn she didn't want to leave Sadie. As mares do, they got cranky at each other and they sometimes got on each others nerves, but they were buddies and they really did like each other. I called to Star on my way down to the barn this morning and she whinnied as she does every morning. After I hung Sadie's lead line on her stall door and cried for a few minutes, I wrapped my arms around Star's neck and cried into it. She leaned her head into me like she was trying to comfort me. I pulled myself together and led her out of the barn into the pasture. I put out her hay. She wouldn't eat it. She was looking around. She went out into the other pasture and she walked that entire pasture looking and calling. She was calling for Sadie and she didn't understand that Sadie is not here anymore. Just when you think it can't feel any worse, just watch your horse looking and calling out repeatedly for her friend and not understanding why she isn't there anymore. I tried to comfort her, but she can't be comforted either. She wants her friend to be there. I want our horse to be there again. There I was, out in the cold, tears pouring down my face, trying to comfort my horse. I stayed out there for a long time, but it availed nothing for my horse.

I came into the house and started working on washing the rest of the blankets that we took out to cover Sadie with yesterday to try to help keep her warm. I also had a basket of clothes from yesterday morning that never got folded. I was folding them when my husband came home and he took one look at me and said, "rough morning, huh?" I cried all over again and told him about my trip to the barn. He went out to see Star to try to comfort her too. He was gone for a long time. When he came in I asked him how she was doing and he said she is just standing out in the middle of pasture. Just standing there. He tried to comfort her, but it didn't help either. No one will ever be able to tell me that animals don't have emotions. They may or may not be like ours, but they do have feelings. Star is sad, but what is worse..... is that she doesn't understand that Sadie died. She just thinks she is not there anymore. Maybe she is thinking that if she waits in the middle of the pasture that Sadie will come home. I don't know.

We were so not prepared for yesterday. We always thought it would be Star who would leave us first because Star is a pretty old horse. We always thought it would be Sadie who would be left without her buddy. The vet told us that the chances of seeing this happen again are almost next to zero and not to be in fear that this would happen to Star too. They told us repeatedly that this is just one of those things that happens to only 5% of horses and when it does, it progresses very fast without any warning. One minute they are fine and the next minute ....

We are not going to get another horse right away. It takes time to grieve the one you lost. I know, I lost my first horse when I was a teen too. I was just a year older than my daughter is right now. We form a very special bond with our horses that cannot be explained. It is not like the bond we form with other animals that we are privileged to own. Our horses somehow become a part of us. Maybe it's because we spend so much time with them or maybe it's because we ride them and so we sort of become almost one. I know that it's a deep bond that is much like friendship and based on mutual respect as well. And they are happy to see you in the morning when you head down to the barn. They let you know by a whinny, by a nuzzle. They call out to you from the pasture when they see you walking. Losing them is like losing your best friend.


1 comment:

Kim said...

I am so sorry to hear about your horse. I had tears running down my face the whole time I read this. I can't say that I know what you are feeling, but I do know if something ever happened to my Gracie (my poodle) I would be heart broken. Isn't it funny how sometimes an animal quits being "a pet" and becomes an actual part of your family.

I too believe that animals have feelings and Gracie shows her often - happiness when she is getting attention, sadness when she isn't, and she gets down right mad if she gets left at home (she chews up our clothes while we are gone).

Again, I am sorry for your loss.