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Kicking Myself - RIP, Old Man

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  • Kicking Myself - RIP, Old Man

    I just found my grand gentleman gelding. I've only had him about 8 months. He was down in the shade of the lower pasture trees, invisible from the top, folded up peacefully for a nap.

    It has been brutally hot - heat indices over 100 for the last few weeks. I'd noticed that he didn't seem to be dealing with the heat that well, but he still was expressive, talked to me as usual. Still ate, if a bit slower to come to it from across the pasture, coming at a sedate walk instead of a brisk trot. He spent most of his days in the run-in and came out late to be out overnight. Seemed to be feeling the heat a bit but taking care of himself.

    But I haven't been able to really get a direct, hands-on assessment. I had foot surgery two weeks ago, and it's healing up a bit more slowly than they would like. I still can't wear shoes. Absolutely forbidden to be active with the horses or to expose myself to an accidental stepping-on. Aside from the first few days, I have been doing feed morning and evening myself, tossing hay over the fence and dispensing grain into fence buckets, enjoying the few moments with them with the fence between even though I annoyed them by being slow as molasses. But I couldn't go in. I've given scritches over the gate, and of course I would have summoned assistance if anybody had turned up 3-legged lame or dripping blood, but this was just a minor case of the droops which seemed easily explained by the extreme heat, and this was after all his first summer in this climate (he's from a much less humid/hot home last year). I hosed him off when he would be close enough to the trough to let me hit him through the fence. Overall, he just seemed philosophical, like people sitting on their porches, fanning, and saying, "Mercy, I wish it would cool off."

    This morning, he wasn't at breakfast, but it was raining, and everybody else came out of the barn a bit slowly in a straggle line. I had an appointment to get to and figured he would be out when the downpour ended. When he wasn't at afternoon feeding, I put a trash bag around my surgical shoe and hobbled into the pasture to find him. I think he must have died last night.

    Part of me says that they do just die sometimes, that he looked peaceful. But part of me can't help wondering if I let him down the last few weeks by not doing or noticing more.

    RIP, stately gentleman. I'll never forget your sense of humor. I knew you far too briefly.

  • #2
    Sometimes horses just get old and pass on. It doesn't mean they weren't cared for, it was just his time. You are injured yourself, and he gave you no big, red flags. He was loved, watered, and fed. That is all a horse can ask for. Focus on the good times!


    • #3
      My condolences on your loss. I understand how you feel.

      I just lost my old mare 2 weeks ago, while I was gone on vacation ;( Dear friends were there to see her through, so it was okay, but I'll always feel bad that I wasn't there

      I had hoped that she would go the way your old man appeared to...peacefully in his sleep. Her passing was not that peaceful, but I take consolation in the fact that she was fine at breakfast and gone that evening. No prolonged illness and suffering.

      So, don't kick yourself. You've done well by him and sometimes they do just die. You can't foresee everything. Chances are, he just lay down to take a nap and didn't wake up. That we could all be so lucky to go that way....


      • #4
        Dressagetak, I am sorry for your loss. RIP to your old gentle friend.


        • #5
          I'm so sorry for your loss That really must have been a heartbreaker...
          Y'all ain't right!


          • #6
            I'm so sorry for your loss...I know it must have been a shock to have found him gone. You did everything a caring horse owner could do and should not feel to blame. Although saying goodbye is never easy, I would feel comfort in the fact that it happened peacefully, at home, and in a lovely pasture. I pray that my animals pass on in such a manner.


            • #7
              Originally posted by BelladonnaLily View Post
              My condolences on your loss. I understand how you feel.

              I just lost my old mare 2 weeks ago, while I was gone on vacation ;( Dear friends were there to see her through, so it was okay, but I'll always feel bad that I wasn't there
              Sometimes I wonder if animals don't wait until we're NOT there to go. Like while we're around they feel like they need to hang on?


              • #8
                Sorry for your loss

                Boy, that is so hard, but try not to feel guilty.

                Last summer we went out of town just overnight - 24 hours. Our neighbor was to feed, etc. Our old lab, Mini, was at home and we told our friend she was fine during the day outside, she wouldn't go anywhere, just mostly sleep and lock in the garage at night.

                Friend did that, let her out on Sat a.m. as instructed and when we got home around 2 - no Mini. We searched everywhere - we live in the country so she could have easily wandered off (but hadn't in a few years due to lack of energy and age). We never did find her, and have to assume it was her time - and true to form, like an old indian fable - she chose to wander out and lay down and die. She had an amazing life, and all of her was used up, nothing wasted at all. Sometimes, I believe they pick their time, and quietly go.


                • #9
                  I'm so sorry for your loss. It sounds like he went peacefully. Try not to beat yourself up. HOpe your foot gets better soon.


                  • #10
                    Aw, OP, I'm sorry for your loss. I understand the guilty feelings, but from your description, he was simply a little droopy from the heat, not in great, obvious distress. He was eating and drinking, out with buddies, and was having a peaceful nap in a pasture under shady trees. That's kind of a horsey ideal. Don't beat yourself up over that.

                    I have to say, though, that the notion of dogs going off to die is largely a romantic myth. Sure, old dogs often wander off, but it's generally attributable to canine cognitive dysfunction (doggy "senility)--the same thing that can lead some old dogs to get "lost" inside their own houses, and a change in routine can certainly cause an old dog sufficient agitation that it'll wander off outside, too.

                    Sunnycher, I know you said you looked everywhere, and I'm sorry you didn't find her one way or another, but I've seen way too many elderly dogs end up as obviously lost strays and with those whose owners we could reach got the "We thought he wandered off to die" response far too often for me to not call out the myth. The dogs who were reunited invariably had plenty more time, and weren't trying to get off the property and die.


                    • #11
                      I am sorry for this however, it is nothing you did or did not do, just his time to go., Sounds like heart failure or something for him to pass that peacefully


                      • Original Poster

                        Thanks. It has been a very difficult couple of weeks already, and today has been beastly - take all the frustration of "can't do anything" for several days in the first place, and then add "but should I have done something?"

                        Here are some of my favorite pictures of him. He had a perfect upside-down heart star.





                        ETA: Toccata, the silver colt you see in two of these, is going to miss him. Stuck as the only male in a herd of mares and the only kid in a herd of (usually) mature matrons, he was delighted to get somebody who would actually play with him. Sonny would interact on whatever level the other horse wanted - if you wanted to play, he could do that; if you wanted to swish and nibble each other, he could do that; and if Her Alphaness wanted to kick like hell, he could give as good as she offered.


                        • #13
                          Thoughts and hugs ~

                          Thoughts and prayers and huge hugs for his barn and house families ~ RIP Handsome Gentleman ~
                          Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                          • #14
                            I'm so sorry.

                            You know, I always think to myself how I wish they would just die peacefully instead of having an issue that makes me make a decision, which seems to always be the case. But I guess if they do die peacefully, I'd just wonder what I could have done. You can't win.
                            Godspeed lovely boy.
                            We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.


                            • #15
                              So sorry for your loss. Try to focus on the 8 great months that he had with you, because I'm sure they were. I know it's hard (impossible, maybe), but try not to second guess yourself--it very well could have been his time to go regardless of the weather. Having seen it both ways, I promise that you would know if he had been in severe pain or agitated, and it sounds like it was a peaceful death, so try to focus on the good in that too. And, who knows, it might be that we're about to have another terrible winter (although after the heat this summer, that hardly seems fair), and this saved him from slipping on ice this winter. Hindsight is always 20/20. I know it's very difficult to do when you just don't know, but try to remember that it may very well have happened anyway, and the important thing is that he was cared for the 8 months that you had him--kudos to you for taking on an older guy in the first place, not many people will, and his last 8 months could have been a lot worse!!!


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by DLee View Post
                                You know, I always think to myself how I wish they would just die peacefully instead of having an issue that makes me make a decision, which seems to always be the case. But I guess if they do die peacefully, I'd just wonder what I could have done. You can't win.
                                This is so true--I just had my 34 year old euthanized last month, and I wouldn't wish your situation on anyone--it sucks either way! But it really is a no win, making "the decision" is awful too.


                                • #17
                                  sounds like it was a peaceful event.

                                  don't beat yourself up.
                                  he had great 8 months with you.
                                  he died in a field, well fed, watered, and cared for.

                                  (i love the photo of him rolling where you can see that upside down heart)

                                  (((hugs))) to you.
                                  TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique


                                  • #18
                                    He was precious. So sorry for your loss. Like everyone has said, don't second guess. It sounds like he went peacefully in a nice shady spot. That's not such a bad way to go. He was loved and cared for and had a good life with you. That's a nice thing for a horse to have in his twilight.


                                    • #19
                                      I think that last picture sums it all up for him......eyes closed, just taking it all in and almost smiling.
                                      "Concern for animals is a matter of taking the side of the weak against the strong, something the best people have always done." Harriet Beecher Stowe 1811-1896

                                      Ponies are cool!


                                      • #20
                                        What a sweet, sweet soul… you can just see it in the photos. My condolences to you, and Godspeed, Beautiful Gentleman.