Monday, May 17, 2010

ready for May to be over....

This has been a terrible spring. April sucked for various stupid and trivial reasons...and we thought it was over, but then came May.

My horse died.

He colicked on Derby saturday while I was in Kentucky...the vet did everything he could, but when I got home we weren't sure how things were going to go. The vet told me to wait before I made any decisions so we tried to wait it out. Then around 7 pm on Sunday, he took a turn for the worse and we called the vet to come out....but it was too late.

Death is not graceful. The body shutting down is clearly a systematic and slow process. Well...20 minutes....but that felt like forever at the time while we stood in the rain waiting for the vet to get there to ease what was inevitable.
Disney really skews your perception on what death looks isn't like the movies.

However, here is the lesson that I was able to see clearly despite my tears. One, there will never ever be a time in my life where I doubt whether people are inherently good. My dad and mom came mom knelt by his head and patted him until he was gone, my dad put his arm around me and held me while I sobbed and couldn't watch, my husband...he wouldn't leave my side while I said goodbye.

The people who own the barn that I kept Colors at did absolutely everything they could. They walked him, they brushed him, they called the vet out 3 times in 24 hours...They stood with me and my family and cried with us...and they let me bury him there. On their property, with his friends....and they're making him a headstone and have left their door open so that I can visit whenever I want. I have no words for how grateful I am for this. They had no NEED to be as kind as they have been...they've known me just under a year. But they did. I have no words.

Secondly, I've always questioned whether or not the body and soul are really two separate things. Like one was dependent on the other...or that when there is death it's all gone at the same time. Before Colors passed...he whinnied at the horses in the barn like he was saying goodbye, and then just before he lay down in the field, he looked at me....and I could see...that whatever used to be in his eyes that made him Aware, was gone. That's when I knew. The whole time his body was shutting down, his eyes were vacant. He wasn't in pain (we had him pretty well drugged up against the colic pain but this was even deeper) he wasn't scared, his eyes weren't rolling in his head like when he used to get frightened. It was just a body shutting down. I think that there were moments when he was uncomfortable...breathing was hard, but he was accepting it. It worries me that he was sad...can animals feel sadness?

I think I put too much "people thought" into his brain...too much of my feelings projected onto him.I am afraid that he was upset, that he was scared...his body language didn't really show it that I could see and that is comforting, but I still worry that maybe....maybe he did.

My feelings are heartbreaking sadness, he was my friend, my secret keeper, my freedom for 19 years. Sadness because I would have so much preferred a Disney Movie death where he laid down in all his beauty and just fell asleep. Not in the rain, not with chaffed skin from rolling to try to relieve the colic pain before the drugs started working. Fear because I am afraid that a little piece of me died with him... the Ann with a horse...the Ann with a place to go when she was stressed...the Ann with something that was just hers and no one else's. And frustration for that part of my life being temporarily closed and not knowing when it will open again. And tiredness. I'm so tired of feeling these things...I want to have it all back again. And worry...if it hurts this much to lose a horse...what on earth will I do when people I love pass?

Colors was an amazing companion for 19 years. I can only hope that I provided him with a life that he enjoyed. That's every owner's hope when their pet passes away...but he saved my life when I was a sad, lonely teen. I truly pray that I was a good owner. I shouldn't even really say "own"...there's a quote that I once heard that said to ride a horse is to borrow freedom, and that's truly it. We are graced with the presence of these animals for just a moment, we can't ever fully tame the spirit or capture the freedom forever.

He was a good horse. Despite his anxiety...his fear of being away from 'the herd' and his high strung nature, he always did what I asked. He trusted me. Even on the last day, he kept walking around the field with me. He'd try to lie down (bad for horses with colic) and I'd give him a tug and say 'please please walk' and he'd keep going. It worries me that I should have let him rest.

Ultimately, I trust that there really was nothing that could have been differently. I asked the vet if I made the right choice to let him try to beat the illness...and he thought for a good five minutes before he told me that Yes, I made the right decision. Vets dont sugarcoat things...they wont try to keep an animal alive if it's suffering and the owner is prepared t omake the decision to put them down. They are practical and pragmatic and I trust them. But dear sweet doesn't make it hurt any less.

Some of you will probably read this and think I'm a little crazy to be so upset about an animal...don't judge me too harshly. Horses are incredible creatures and I had this one for 19 years. I miss him.

The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears. ~Arabian Proverb

A horse is the projection of peoples' dreams about themselves - strong, powerful, beautiful - and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence. ~Pam Brown

God forbid that I should go to any Heaven in which there are no horses. ~R.B. Cunninghame Graham, letter to Theodore Roosevelt, 1917

God forbid I should ever go to a heaven in which there are no horses...


Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you. Princess Diana

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