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PLease hlpe me make peace with this... not for the weak of heart/stomach, etc.

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  • #21
    I am not a therapist, but I do see that you are making an effort to make peace with yourself about this loss. Had the horse been one you loved dearly, you would have said your goodbyes.....heartbroken, yes, sobbing, yes, and grieving. But in this case, you are dealing with the death of a horse that your instincts told you was "damaged" already....one you might have been thinking of giving up on...and then this tragedy makes the decision for you. I am going on my own instincts about human nature, and how we horsepeople either attach ourselves, or detach from a horse that does not seem to want to be with us, no matter what.
    You are reliving a tragic incindent...and maybe thinking you are feeling guilt...but guilt implies feeling bad over wrongdoing, and you have done no wrong. The horse very likely HAD some loose screws...I have taken in a couple like that in my life, and they could not be "fixed." One I had could have done great damage to me, but I sent him on his way....it took me several months of grieving the "giving up" but once I did, I was free. You may have been thinking about letting this mare go, and that may be adding to your feelings. Please, please, release yourself. You have done no wrong.
    Thankfully, you were not hurt, and had not passed a horse along to someone else who might not have had the level of horsemanship and good instincts you had to keep yourself out of harm's way. Someone without those instincts could have been killed.

    If a few sessions of grief counseling could be worked out, with a good counselor I hope you will consider that....and if you need to "visit" this mare emotionally to say goodbye, I hope you will do this. And I hope that your sharing this with the COTH community is part of your road to healing. It's OK to give up on a horse that can not be fixed, and though that decision was made for you by the horse, and in a horrible, dramatic, way, the other posters are right....it was over before she hit the ground. If you had seen a person "commit suicide" (and I hope no one feels I'm being disrespectful...many of us have known a person who has taken their own life)you would understandably feel many of the same feelings.

    Spend some quiet time with a sweet, quiet horse, and reconnect with the reasons you love horses in the first place. We're all rooting for you.
    What would you try if you knew you would not fail?


    • Original Poster

      Thanks for all the replies. I was a mess after it happened, and did talk to someone. (I work in a medical building and have all kinds of specialties at my disposal, and the resident psychiatric nurse helped me.) I was having trouble functioning at all, and not sleeping, eating, etc. The suggested that I had to finish everything. Meaning I had told her how I hadn't been to the barn again, still had my bridle in a plastic bag at home, all bloody. Still had my scratched and bruised saddle sitting in the tack room. He said it would help with the process to take care of all that stuff, and try to move past that actual trauma. So I did. I sat outside in the dark, so I wouldn't have to see it and cried and cleaned my bridle and saddle, and I really did feel a lot better after it was done. Everyday got a little easier, and after about a week, I was able to go back out to the barn. I spent some time not riding, just being around my retired mare, who is VERY sane and safe. Finally convinced myself that I wasn't a danger to the horses, and could ride again. I did fine all spring, summer, and fall. I had been curious about what physically happened to her, but thats all it was, curiosity.

      Then last night, I was at the barn alone, and hand walking a friends horse, because he pulled his stifle. It was cold, and I handwalked her for months last year. I walked back to the gate where it had all happened, and the cement there is still stained a little. It's just darker where the mess had been. And it all came rushing back. That poor gelding must think I'm a lunatic. We're having a peaceful handwalking session and I start bawling, take him back to his stall, and leave.

      Our vet said she thinks she probably had a brain tumor, or it could have been an aneurysm. She had several incidents where she'd completely lose it for 60 seconds, and then act like nothing happened. I had put a saddle on her a few times for her handwalking, just trying to get her used to the idea. Then one day out of the blue, I put the saddle on, and she spazzed, reared, and went down. She didn't flip, but she went down. Then she stood up like nothing happened. It was not a normal scared horse response. There was no heavy breathing, wide eyes, snorting etc. It was honest to God like nothing had happened.

      Our vet didn't come out after it happened, not while she was still there. We had her picked up, the barn was scrubbed, the bloody sand removed. The owners didn't want an autopsy. Had she been mine, I think I would have. Just to know.

      But thanks again for the support. It does help to talk.

      And what a few of you mentioned, about me being ready to give up on her, was true. She scared me. I've never been afraid of a horse. I was the go to girl for bucking ponies or horses that refused fences, trailer loading, etc. Nothing really scared me. I had a healthy respect for them, but never got that uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach like I did with her. I really do think it was unavoidable. She was out to kill herself, one way or another, it was just a matter of time. But even knowing all that... doesn't make it hurt any less. So thanks for listening
      Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.


      • #23
        Oh Finderskeepers it sounds so similar. A total freak out and then she would look at me like - what?? No snorting, no fear just boom. Mine would actually start her circle again on a nice quiet trot on her own. If it was the same as mine - there is nothing you could have done had you known. I had mine vetted twice less than a month before (only owned her a month ) and neither vet saw anything. I was guessing an aneurism because people who actually survive them talk about a unbearable headache like nothing they have ever felt. Your poor mare's time was limited no matter what. You gave her every chance and treated her kindly. Don't feel bad about being afraid of her - that was your instincts and they were right. You weren't asking anything difficult of her, or anything that would hurt her. I am just so glad you did not get physically hurt in the process. Emotionally, that's another story. I know how you feel. I was very lucky. My barn firends got all of my tack off of her and cleaned it for me. I did realize the other day that her blood is all of a sudden visible on my lunge line again. Which is wierd - it has been like 10 years. I loved and will never forget her and would not have my once in a lifetime horse if not for the loss of her, but wish she had been given a better end. You will feel better with time. Just please know you did nothing wrong. Whatever was in her head was a ticking time bomb. It would have happened whether she was working or not. You treated her fairly and with kindness. She was just not meant to be here any longer.

        I wish you peace. It will come with time.


        • #24
          Originally posted by cloudyandcallie View Post
          Horses are always trying to kill themselves, even the calm ones will fall down and do things that scare us.

          This was totally an accident. Totally. You did nothing to make her flip.

          However, being there and seeing this, you will have flashbacks.

          Watching a horse die is one of the worse things that we have to see when we have them. (Makes me wonder who the pro-slaugther people can live with themselves, when you get upset over an accident with a little freaked out mare.)

          We all feel guilty even when there is nothing we can do to save them.
          Watching a horse you or someone else is riding or you are around die is terrible.

          That has nothign to do with holding a horse for a vet to euthanize or the slaughter employee doing it when it is time for a horse to go, for whatever reason.
          No one is morally deficient because they know the difference.

          When I was a teenager, we were on a trail ride walking down a dirt road when a black arabian mare I had started, that now the owner was riding, stepped on a metal manhole, her foot slipped and her cannon bone snapped in two.
          The slaughter house had to send someone to euthanize her and haul her away, as our only vet was out of town.
          We were herded out of there when he came and all of us were very upset for long time after that, you can't help it, it is how people are made.
          I can still remember it as if it just had happened, these many years ago.

          You are doing what is best already, we call that "mental hygiene", to just accept some things in life are terrible accidents and try not to dwell on them.

          Life has a way to add such moments to your memories, so you have to learn to set them aside.
          It happened, it is out of our hands and we learn from it.

          As for her being mentally unstable, we had a beautiful OTTB mare we were retraining as a hunter that started flipping without reason one day when longed.
          The vet was called and he examined her, thought that maybe she at some time had sleeping sickness and her brain may have been affected and it was showing now as flipping.
          Don't know how he came to that conclusion, but we quit riding her, not worth someone getting killed.

          You were lucky not to get hurt.
          It will take you long time not to get upset when you think about this, but let yourself grieve as long as it takes.
          The passing of time has a way to put things in perspective.


          • #25
            Originally posted by pintopiaffe View Post
            It is very, very normal for the time of year, the weather and the situation to trigger the memories. That was a very traumatic experience. Many people manage to go their entire lives without anything that violent occurring.

            Part of helping your brain deal with the trauma is telling the story. Typing it out, as you did here, is one of the best things you can do. Talking about it with people who 'get it' is key.

            The weather and time of year will trigger the memories forever. They will get softer though. It will not be as raw most of the time. Other times a certain smell or the way the light is, or... something... will poke at the pain and hit it like a nerve in a bad tooth. That too is NORMAL.

            It could very well be that the mare was rearing because of something already going on. She may easily have been gone *before* she hit the ground. Doesn't change what you saw and heard and smelled and touched and felt. Our bodies and brains are miraculous things. They cushion us when crisis is at it's worst, but often bring it back to us when we are in a safer place to deal with it.

            It's ok to question, it's ok to remember, it's ok to hurt. All of it is NORMAL. It WILL get better, but maybe not this year. Maybe not even next year. It WILL though. Knowing that it's normal and will eventually soften, can help you get through the raw times.
            This is so true... every bit of it.

            One of the hardest things about life is that everything dies. Some deaths are more graphic than others.. they are all normal tho'. That part can be hard to handle.

            Something that can happen after witnessing any death is that you begin to appreciate life in a different way. The reality of every moment possibly being a last moment - for all of us - can make the most mundane things special.

            I believe that we are witnesses to death because it teaches us that death is part of life and not something to be afraid of. In an odd way, you have been given a little gift, an opportunity to learn something you would not have learned any other way - but that you *will* encounter someday, in that you are mortal too.

            Sorry if this is untimely or too philosophical but I have had a lot of time and experience to contemplate death and this seems like the logical conclusion to me...
            "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


            • #26
              My once in a lifetime horse was kicked in the leg last year on Valentine's Day by a young horse I had just bought, frankly to take his place as my primary riding horse, as he was nearing retirement. His leg was broken, and he had to be put down. I still feel guilty for buying the new horse. I ended up giving her away, because I couldn't even look at her without crying. I still have crying breakdowns, like when I put his blanket on another horse this year, and saw the red hair in the velcro. I hope things get easier for you. I think posting this has helped me. I haven't really talked about it. Thanks for bieng brave and giving me the courage to post.


              • #27
                The same thing happened to me my very first day galloping at the racetrack. I was pretty shaken up but the trainer I was riding for took me right out to a farm and bought a baby that day to fill the stall and it was my project to get it started for the track. The new horse was quite a project (he wasn't even halter broke) so I think between having to buck up and be professional about it and having some horse therapy that is what really helped me.

                Later on down the road you will have the opportunity to help others in need and the way you figure to help solve this one will help someone else and it will all make sense.



                • #28

                  While I haven't experienced it with a horse, I have with dogs, cats and farm animals. A couple have been very traumatic and yes, they still haunt me a bit to this day.

                  Talking about it is the key to healing the heart.
                  I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

                  Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.


                  • #29
                    I am very sorry you lost her, but overall perhaps this was a blessing too before you got seriously hurt working with her. There may have been something seriously wrong with her that may have influenced this behavior.

                    Count your blessings that you are all and well!



                    • #30
                      Originally posted by BornToRide View Post
                      I am very sorry you lost her, but overall perhaps this was a blessing too before you got seriously hurt working with her. There may have been something seriously wrong with her that may have influenced this behavior.

                      Count your blessings that you are all and well!


                      Believe me the alternative would have been worse. Mare at my barn flipped while in sidereins - hit her head on the large wood mounting block. Bled from her nose, eyes and mouth - but somehow survived. She was a wreck for months and it was awful to watch. She'll never be the same, will never be safe to ride . . . owner eventually moved her and I believe was going to breed her . . .

                      "I am still under the impression that there is nothing alive quite so beautiful as a thoroughbred horse." -- John Galsworthy


                      • #31
                        I can well imagine your horror, and I'm sorry you had to witness that. I'm glad you were not also on the ground, crushed beneath her.

                        Based on your description though, it sounds as if she may not have been aware (the twitching and massive blood loss). That doesn't make her death any less horrible for you to have witnessed.

                        It seems you were kind and patient with her, and treated her well. You have nothing to feel guilty or bad about.
                        Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                        Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                        -Rudyard Kipling


                        • #32
                          This is such a hard thing to deal with. It happended to me as well. I was working a pony in long lines while the 9 year old girl that rode her watched. We were all finished working and the pony was just to walk up to the girl so that she could hold her safely while I undid the lines. For no reason, she took two quick steps backward, reared, and flipped. It sounds like she died very similarly to your horse. As the pony was insured, we did do a necropsy. What actually happeded was that when she fell, the hyoid bone was broken in her head, which severed the carotid artery and drove into the brain stem. Unfortunately it was not enough to kill her instantly. It was truly the most horrible experience of my life.

                          Of course, I felt so guilty, and that it was my fault, but the owners of the pony were very kind and supportive, and helped me a great deal. We all felt, as many that posted here, there must have been something wrong with her to make her do such a thing. We will never know exactly what it was. In the end I found out that the pony did have a history of rearing, and had flipped before. We were all very glad that it never happend with a child on her back and other than emotional scars, no one was hurt.

                          It helped me a great deal to talk with the kids about it, and we all were able to make our peace with it, but it is a very hard thing to do. It will come back to haunt you at times, but it will get easier with time.



                          • #33
                            Originally posted by BornToRide View Post
                            I am very sorry you lost her, but overall perhaps this was a blessing too before you got seriously hurt working with her. There may have been something seriously wrong with her that may have influenced this behavior.

                            Count your blessings that you are all and well!

                            I agree with this.

                            It's hard to reconcile seeing something like that, but try to take some comfort from the fact that she didn't suffer.


                            • #34
                              I have read this exact same story on another bulletin board a long time ago. (Or maybe it "was" here on COTH???) Even down to the detail of the horse's head under the arena door, and the legs twitching. Did you post this somewhere else once already?

                              When I first read this post I thought for sure somebody had resurrected a seriously old thread because I knew exactly what the outcome was after you described this as an OTTB with a rearing problem and going to the mounting block, etc.....

                              I thought that by the end of that thread, you'd "made peace" with the situation. Or am I completely nuts and there was another identical incident that somebody else posted about????? How weird.

                              In any case, I am so sorry that you had to see this accident. I can't imagine the pain it put in your heart


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by equineartworks View Post

                                While I haven't experienced it with a horse, I have with dogs, cats and farm animals. A couple have been very traumatic and yes, they still haunt me a bit to this day.

                                Talking about it is the key to healing the heart.
                                I second this. Talking about it and giving yourself permission of time to heal your own heart and grief...


                                • #36

                                  I am so sorry about your filly, but I am also in the camp of thank goodness you didn't get hurt in the process. I'll never forget when I was first learning to gallop, a baby was walking around with a hotwalker. Next thing he reared up, lost his balance, cracked his skull and died. The trainer said, well luckily nobody was on him and no people were hurt. While it may sound crass, that is the only way to look at this type of situation. This mare had issues and while you did your best, it was not your fault at all.

                                  I lost a filly foal who galloped straight into a gate one morning. It was the same situation and I was devastated, but at the same time she went quickly.

                                  Don't blame yourself and I'm sure someone else will come along and steal your heart as well. Another lucky horse is out there waiting for you to work with them and turn out to be a really good citizen!

                                  COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

                                  "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.


                                  • #37
                                    This is such a hard thing to deal with. It happended to me as well. I was working a pony in long lines while the 9 year old girl that rode her watched. We were all finished working and the pony was just to walk up to the girl so that she could hold her safely while I undid the lines. For no reason, she took two quick steps backward, reared, and flipped. It sounds like she died very similarly to your horse. As the pony was insured, we did do a necropsy. What actually happeded was that when she fell, the hyoid bone was broken in her head, which severed the carotid artery and drove into the brain stem. Unfortunately it was not enough to kill her instantly. It was truly the most horrible experience of my life.
                                    That brings up memories for me of another case, a mini that was being worked on a longe line before driving. Also, for no good reason he reared and flipped over. I believe he was instantly killed. I was not present at the time, but had met him just before the incident. What I could not figure out why the little guy seemed so sad - the other mini horse seemed much happier and I was told they had a good an loving home. Perhaps the sadness was linked to an unrecognized medical condition that finally came to an end that day.


                                    • #38
                                      Better the mare than you.

                                      Based on your description I'm going to suggest that part of what is freaking you out is the knowledge that you could have been on the horse when she flipped and it could have been you that died. That is a hard thing to deal with and the brain has a way of making it unpleasant for you to contemplate things like that by freaking out when you try to. If the feeling that "it could have been me" is triggering this stressed out gotta-get-away reaction, I'd suggest talking it out with the same counselor and seeing if it helps you move past the entire incident. Because you didn't die and you never have to get on that horse in that situation again. You made the right decisions, you're safe and you don't have to keep re-living the situation in your head.

                                      Just a suggestion.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        I did post this story last January. I had posted 2 days before asking for help with her rearing. At that time, it was only on the lunge line, she had never done it while I was on her. I was just trying to figure out why, and what to do with her to make it stop. And was strongly thinking of telling the owners that she was not going to be rideable and they should just turn her out somewhere. Though now, I am glad I didn't because knowing them, they would have sold her to some poor Pony Club kid looking for a project. At least I can think maybe I saved someone else from her.

                                        2 days later, I posted the update. I didn't even get a chance to read the COTH advice before she had died. Apparently I was just reading her wrong. I was reading her temper tantrums as defiance, but looking back I think it was something very different all together.

                                        I did learn from this though... I learned what my limits are on problem horses, and I will never again work with one that rears...and never again work with one that gives me the feeling she did. I spent my summer galloping racehorses, and even that didn't terrify me the way she did...and let me tell you, some of those rides had some serious fear factors.

                                        But thanks again everyone! I feel a lot better today. I was just not at all expecting that rush back of emotion. I did so good for so long.
                                        Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.


                                        • #40
                                          EMDR therapy can help you get through your mental trauma and memories. It was her time , nothing that could be done about it.

                                          Help yourself so you can move on.