I have been very blessed to be surrounded by horses for most of my life. I chose to follow my dream of training horses and their people. Many of these horses have been part of my herd. The joy I experience most definitely outweighs the moments of sadness.
Losing our horse is incredibly difficult whatever the circumstances. We may not have a say in the timing, or our horse died without our required intervention.
Years ago, I had an Arab gelding, 28 years old., He died overnight in his stall due to heart failure. I knew he was not well and I had decided the day before that I would call my vet first thing the next day. After his death, as time passed, I was uncomfortably relieved the heartbreaking decision was made for me. Removing his body from the stable was a reality I had to face. It was also what I needed to do. A tough day.
I had a very special relationship with him. He was my first school horse. His specialty was teaching children and he took his job very seriously. He would have a look of dismay on his face ,,,as he did everything possible to stay underneath the small unstable body of his rider. If his child rider fell off, he immediately stopped and put his head down to sniff his student. Every riding instructor knows the immeasurable ways these horses bring joy to the students blessed to have time with them.
Most recently, one of my clients had to make the decision to say goodbye to her family’s 26 year old Arab gelding. He had a shattered a splint bone as a result of an accident. He was well loved. His previous owners, who live right next door, had the opportunity of a final visit with him. The date was arranged, the vet booked, and our compassionate horse transport service was on hand. We decided to put him down beside his field with his herd. As humans we have a process of grief. The horses have their process as well.
I stood on the sidelines, available to support as needed. My position enabled me to observe the herd as their friend’s’ spirit left this earth. The 3 horses initially milled slowly around the fence line listlessly picking up bits of hay. Their faces lacked the intention of eating the hay. Once their friend dropped to the ground, they looked at him, got stirred up, ran about their field like a brief windstorm, then returned to eating hay. My horses in the adjoining fields had also been looking at their friend and ran about briefly as well.
It all happened in a short span of time. Although this process was very difficult for us, the horses returned to a very peaceful state of mind almost immediately after the death. The moment had passed, and the life of horses returned to normal.