A person I greatly respect lost one of her old mares today. My friend sat up all night in the rain and the mud with her mare until the vet could arrive. Ultimately, there was nothing that could be done except make a very difficult decision… and let the mare go.
I felt my heart break when I read her Twitter feed and Facebook posts from last night through today. Saying “I”m so sorry” is woefully inadequate. The death of a horse is like losing a child to a horse person because these huge, delicate creatures are our family. Some of us make the choice to have horses instead of children. Losing one can be devastating.
I wish there was more I could do to help my friend — but states-away makes it hard to help. But I can offer to listen. Sometimes that is the best thing you can do is help share the pain.
When I lost Isis, only a few of my friends realized the full impact. I put on a brave face; gave a talk about EPM at the local horse club the night after she died to try to give some meaning to her passing. My friends knew better than to leave me alone. Someone checked on me every day for a week to make sure I was okay.
My horse-friends knew better than to ask how I was. That threat of losing a horse can be so close, just an emergency away.
The most unexpected thing can set them into a downward spiral and suddenly the vet is there giving you The Dreadful Talk about quality of life. And you are faced with a choice that is horrifying and selfless, and leaves a 1200-pound hole in your heart.
Funny how whole also contains a hole.
It is never easy to deal with any sort of death. Eventually, as the hole loses the caustic edges and begins to heal towards whole, you can remember the joys. The memories don’t cause you to immediately cry (or wail) and instead it’s sadness replacing over-whelming grief. Eventually.
The stall isn’t always empty.
The saddle finds another back.
The herd helps its human recover, remember, and honor the one who is not in the paddock any more.