Hug your horse. I Lost a Great Mare the other day.....
I purchased Blueberry 18 years ago for my daughter’s birthday. They were both 13 years old then. As my daughter grew up she grew away from horses and Blueberry became mine. She was perfect for my husband or guests to ride. She taught several children how to ride but she was fun for me to ride too. Other than a short period last year while I had to figure out and adjust her diet and feeding schedule to accommodate her failing teeth she’s been healthy and sound. I figured out that she could only eat well soaked beet pulp with senior feed. We settled on Triple Crown Senior and she did very well on it maintaining her weight and energy levels. The vet found a heart murmur about that same time and advised me not to canter her under saddle. That was fine with me since we could still enjoy leisurely 5 or 6 mile trail rides and did so until our last ride just a few weeks ago.
I live in Georgia and we’ve been having the most beautiful mild spring weather until this past few weeks, the temps have soared into the 90’s. It seems like these kind of weather changes are not always easy on the old ones. For the last few weeks as the temperatures increased her appetite decreased until she wasn’t eating much at all. I thought I’d give her until Monday before I called the vet. I got home from work Friday evening (6/14/13) around 6:30 or so and went in to the house to put my purse and laptop away. I kept hearing the donkey braying over and over so, figuring he wanted out of his dry lot for a little while, I headed out to the barn. What I found stopped my heart. Blueberry, now 30 years old, was down and in distress right next to the fenced dry lot for the donkey. She was covered nose to tail in sweat and dirt which made her grey coat all muddy. She kept swinging her head back to look at her belly and I could see that the light had already left her beautiful eyes. I knew what that meant. I called the vet and then called my daughter in law, who lives next door, and she came running. I called another friend who lives up the street too and she came over. While we waited for the vet we tried to get her up. It took awhile but she finally heaved herself to her feet, losing her halter in the process, and staggered INTO the barn right into her old stall and laid down again. Worst place she could have gone….grrr.
As anyone should, when taking responsibility for their animals, I already had a plan that if she went down there would be no heroic efforts to save her and we would minimize her suffering. When the vet got there he agreed that any efforts to save her would indeed most likely be “heroic” in nature and very likely unsuccessful. With my blessing he helped her over the bridge while I held her head. After the vet and the neighbors left I took my other horses to her side to say goodbye. They all acted a little different….the most heart wrenching was my 11 year old gelding, Tavis. Blueberry was his mother. He sniffed her all over but kept coming back to her face. He kept breathing into her nose and nuzzling her face and neck. He stayed with her for at least 10 minutes or more, I was in tears again by the time he was done. My other two, 27 year old gelding Bucky, and her companion donkey, Hank, sniffed her a few times and quickly moved on. The donkey has been extra noisy calling for her though.
I am fortunate enough to own my own property and to have neighbor with a backhoe. Saturday morning the neighbor with the back hoe came over to bury her. Luckily we had planned for just this kind of thing happening when we built our barn. The walls are made of boards slid into channel iron rails and we merely had to lift the boards out of the side wall of the barn to make room for the equipment. We decided to leave that wall off the barn to make a run in for the two geldings for now as I have no plans to get another horse any time soon. When I let the horses out that morning after clearing away Blueberry’s body they went into their new run-in and spent a lot of time sniffing around the area where she laid all night, it was very sad. Tavis has been calling for her off and on, as has Hank, the donkey.
She is at peace now but my heart is broken
I am so very sorry for your loss. I lost my 30 year old last year after 20 years together. There are no words that can alleviate your pain other than knowing that few horses are allowed the security, consistency and love that yours had, being with you for so long. I hope that provides some comfort.
I'm not saying we should kill all the stupid people, I'm just saying we should remove all the warning labels and let things sort themselves out.
Sorry to hear about your girl. I have had the pleasure of having two long term horses. Previous horse was 10 when I purchased him. He lived until 24. My current mare, I have owned since she was a yearling. She is 19 this month. We're sending hugs your way.