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

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

    Last January, I was working with a little TB mare. She bowed a tendon on the track, and I was bringing her back physically, and trying to mentally. I know there are a lot of people out there that say mental illness doesn't exist in animals... but if it did, she'd be a textbook case. Something was not right in her mind.

    After working with her for a few months, I had started riding her. Things were going great, until January 6. I tried to get on her, and she reared. She apparently had a habit of this on the track, and she had reared while I had been working her... but never when I was on her, getting on her, etc. It was a defiance on the lunge line issue.

    Regardless. I calmly had my riding partner, walk her around to the mounting block, tried to get on again, same thing. Walked a circle same thing. Gave her an entire lap of the arena, brought her back, I got on, and she went up and flipped. Luckily I was able to make a saving grace leap and get out of her way.

    Here's where the morbid, gross, not for the faint part comes in, but please bare with me... this is the part I need to understand.

    As soon as she hit the ground, I knew something was terribly wrong. But I was in shock and not thinking straight. Her head was under the gate to the indoor, and my first thought was "O God, she's going to try to get up and kill herself" But then another thought entered my mind "She's already dead. She's not trying to get up, and her legs are twitching." My partner and I stood there thinking maybe she was just really scared, and trying to think of the best way to move her head from under the gate so she would be able to stand. Mind you this is all happening in the span of about 1 minute, and we were both really shaken. Anyway, all of a sudden there was a loud bubbling and blood came pouring out of her nose. She was still moving a little. Eyes were twitching and legs twitching. It was horrifying. My partner started screaming for help, and I collapsed, starring. We called the vet in a panic, but my vet (bless her heart) said that she would be passed long before she could make the 20 minute drive to put her down, and may be gone already. She said she probably broke her neck and that's what all the blood was from.

    I was too upset to ask any questions. I didn't want to know any details. I felt so guilty, and was so distraught, and even had a few days thinking I'd never set foot in a barn again. I did, of course. I moved past it with support of really good friends, and really good horses. I rarely even let it pop in my head, but the last couple of weeks, since its been cold just like it was last year, and I've been out there at the barn alone a lot due to my work schedule, I keep replaying that morning in my mind, seeing it happen all over again, and I really think if I could understand what exactly happened to her, physically, it might help me to really move on and stop feeling so awful about it.

    So I apologize for the graphic description, etc. I have been debating about whether to post it or not for a couple weeks. But I thought if anyone could help, it would be COTH. Though I would never wish for anyone to go through that, I figure someone may have, or one of our vets here would be able to help me understand what happened. Thanks in advance.
    Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.

  • #2
    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.


    • #3
      Wow that must have been horrifying to watch, I am so sorry you had to go through that. I have seen this happen at the race track before, thankfully not with one of my own though. She could have broken her neck but more likely in my opinion is she fractured her skull on impact. That is almost always followed by a rush of blood out both nostrils and sometimes even the ears. Either way, she was dead when she hit the ground and nothing you could have done would change that.
      McDowell Racing Stables

      Home Away From Home


      • #4
        Oh my God. What a tragic accident. Since the blood was coming from the nostrils I would suspect a massive brain hemmorhage. I'm not a Vet but lost a bf to a brain hemmorhage 16 years ago.

        If it's any comfort, I imagine that she was "gone" as soon as her head hit the ground and that the twitching was involuntary. Brain trauma can be a quick way to go.

        I think it's good that you're able to talk about it. I hope the healing continues. If it hadn't happened with you, it's likely it would've happened with someone else.



        • #5
          It was her karma. Nothing you could do about it. Bear no guilt, no remorse. As Forrest Gump observed, "Shit happens".


          • #6
            I remember when you posted about this mare back then - tragic then, tragic now.

            I agree with Tree - she was probably already gone, and the aftermath was just remnants.

            It is not a thing you will easily get over. You will NEVER forget it. But over time (may take years) you will think of The End less often, and without so much detail.

            It will take time to be at peace with the whole situation. None of it was your fault - it happened in spite of you, and perhaps her life would have been terrible in her last few months due to her behavior, so know that she at least had good last days with you.
            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


            • #7
              Agree with Laurie, probably massive skull fracture. A friend had a pony run full force into a fence post once...it fell, got back up, stepped back a few paces and stood still, then blood poured from it's nostrils and it hit the ground dead. Skull was pretty much crushed, poor thing. My friend was a wreck for ages after that, she said it was horrible to see.
              My condolences on your loss...freak accidents with horses shouldn't be termed "freak" because they're not an uncommon as you'd think. For such massive animals they're more frail than any of us like to admit to.
              You jump in the saddle,
              Hold onto the bridle!
              Jump in the line!


              • #8
                After being around horses for most of my life now, one thing has become increasingly clear and that is that certain horses are he_ _-bent on self-destruction. Nothing you can do in any way will help a horse that has that mind-set and usually it's only a matter of time before they do themselves in. You just happened to be there when it happened - an unfortunate and sad circumstance. I feel for you because I know what it's like to have something replay in your mind at certain times of the year, usually when you don't expect it to hit you. Be patient - let more time pass and the memory will occur less and less often.
                Susan N.

                Don't get confused between my personality & my attitude. My personality is who I am, my attitude depends on who you are.


                • #9
                  Oh hugs Finders... sorry about your mare.

                  You have to find that little bit of peace in your soul to let go of such a tragedy. Sounds like you never really had the 'closure' that you need.

                  Horses just do some crazy shit sometimes. You just never know what's around the next bend.


                  • #10
                    What an awful thing to have to go through. I'm sure someone with more veterinary experience can post and give you their opinion on what might have happened. But I will say it sounds like this mare had to be either gone instantly, or in such trauma that she was in shock and not feeling anything when she was lying on the ground. I will never forget watching my horse be euthanized, and being very upset because he appeared to still be breathing, and the vet explaining that it was an involuntary muscle reaction that occurred after brain stem death (something like that; honestly, I was fairly traumatized at the time and couldn't repeat it word for word, but the point was that he was gone by then).

                    Maybe the vet or whoever dealt with the aftermath could give you more detail if you think that might help you move on? You're very lucky to have escaped injury yourself, what a nasty accident!


                    • #11
                      First, I am so sorry you had to go through that. Please don't blame yourself. Awful things happen no matter how careful we are. She probably had no idea of any of it and did not suffer.

                      Are you sure the end result was from the gate? Sorry, not to increase the graphics. I had a young mare die in almost the same way. She was only 4, had been vetted twice before I bought her, and checked out fine. She started rearing, mainly when asked to canter on the right lead. But, she reared several times, flipping once while on the lunge line with me. She didn't show ANY physical signs of a problem. She would freak out and then as quickly as it started it was over and she was fine. This went on a month, and on the last day my trainer was lunging her (we had stopped riding her for fear it was a green horse tantrum that we had to get over). I was right there watching, so I my trainer did nothing wrong, did not over do it, etc. All of a sudden she reared, ran backwards and then fell away from us. As she fell she peed and pooped and thrashed her legs. She had blood in her ears, nose and mouth. She was dead before she hit the ground. The vet said it was most likely an aneurism. Nothing he could have done had he been standing there.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JB View Post
                        I remember when you posted about this mare back then - tragic then, tragic now.

                        I agree with Tree - she was probably already gone, and the aftermath was just remnants.

                        It is not a thing you will easily get over. You will NEVER forget it. But over time (may take years) you will think of The End less often, and without so much detail.

                        It will take time to be at peace with the whole situation. None of it was your fault - it happened in spite of you, and perhaps her life would have been terrible in her last few months due to her behavior, so know that she at least had good last days with you.

                        So sorry, FK. Hugs.
                        We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


                        • #13
                          I'm sorry you had to see something so horrid - sadly, I did, too, when a horse being free lunged in a round pen got spooked and ran and hit her head on one of sprinkler pillars on the outside of the pen.

                          Vet in this case said she had fractured her skull which caused her brain to swell but the effect was the same: copious amounts of blood from the nose, ears, and eyes. She was down but her legs were still running - it was HORRIBLE and so sad. The vet did come but there was nothing that could be done for her. The girl who was lunging her was inconsolable - it was not her horse and no one is really sure what went wrong. This was maybe 3 years ago and the picture is still very vivid in my mind

                          I wouldn't beat yourself up over it - horses are forever trying to find ways to maim themselves and sadly, sometimes it works too well. If it's any comfort, you know she's save forever now
                          Last edited by reefy!; Dec. 3, 2008, 11:56 PM.
                          ~* Be kind to one another *~


                          • #14
                            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.
                            InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

                            Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


                            • #15
                              That's terribly sad. I do know those kinds of memories are hard to shake, and come back strongly when something reminds us of the time or place, even years later. I think the more emotional the event (you were in physical danger yourself when it happened, having to leap out of the way, and you were attached to the horse, too) the longer it takes. I think it can be helpful to just "go with it" when you have those moments - take a few minutes to just cry about it. I find it helps wash away the build up of emotions - if you have those days when it just feels like your "heart is full of tears," if you know what I mean.

                              In a much smaller way I felt like this when I hit a deer - the only time I've ever done so - and it stood there swaying by the road, blood bubbling from it's nose, and I had that horrible image in my mind for weeks and weeks and felt so terrible and sick from it (the sheriff came and shot it). And in a much bigger way when my father died, and I saw his body and mind just sort of collapse into some awful mockery of who he had been. That took years not to be an overwhelming, horrifying memory that kept me up at night, though it can still make me cry now and then.

                              Big hugs.


                              • #16
                                There is nothing you could or would have done differently.
                                Horses that flip are dangerous to themselves and to you. I recently had more heard than seen a horse flip on a dirt type road and went running to help rider/ horse, which ever. I was accompanied by a friend who stopped short and told me to stop and go back to the barn. I was brave and wanted to help. Till I saw the rider was ok and the waterfall of blood out the horse's nose. It's a very dangerous situation. A situation where we as well as they can be at death's door in an instant. You cannot blame your self! The odd horse is messed up. Past handling, breeding. It takes a toll. But it didn't take your life and it didn't put you out of commission which it could have easily.

                                Last summer I had the unfortunate luck to have a horse have a heart attack under me at a rapid rate of speed. He was dead and I broke a few bones. I ran to him before I allowed myself to feel any pain. I re lived it for a long time through my healing. Guilty as all get out. Thinking there was something I could have done, should have felt, should have stopped.
                                I got off lucky. I was pulling on trying to stop a completely non responsive horse heading for the inside fence. I'm not smart enough to abandon ship. Fortunately for me (though not fortunate at all in my mind) his heart gave out before impact and he went right and I was tossed somehow left. He didn't take me with him. If he had, It would have been much worse.
                                I was lucky. As were you. There isn't anything you could have done any more than I could have.
                                It's not your fault.


                                • #17
                                  I'm really sorry you are dealing with this. Just know, when you have been around horses for enough years, unfortunately you are going to have some bad stories. Horses do have an uncanny ability to hurt themselves more than any other animal on the planet. First, you should release yourself from the guilt. You did nothing wrong. Second, know you are not alone. As others have posted tragic horse stories, I sadly have one too. I won't go into detail, cuz you don't need that right now. My gelding died in a freak accident during a thunderstorm. He was electrocuted in his stall. I was very upset the first day, of course. Cried really hard. But then I thought I was okay. Felt I could deal with going back to the barn where it happened to take care of my friend's mare. Well, of course a thunderstorm started brewing while I was there. It was like post traumatic stress or something. I totally lost it. I just sat right down in the aisle and bawled my eyes out for at least ten minutes with the poor mare wondering what was wrong with me. It's totally normal to have those feeling creep back up, especially when it is the same time of year as the accident. Let yourself cry. But also know that the little mare is happy now and released from any pain. I would guess she probably fractured her skull. It happened to a horse at a barn I used to board at. Sounds similar. She was not in any pain, she went quickly. Peace to you.


                                  • #18
                                    Similar thing happened to a friends mare, i was there and witnessed the event, the horse fractured her skull
                                    this horse was a 3 yo ottb mare, well kinda off the track, she was bred to race and started her race training but had an odd way of thinking, and wasn't going to be a race horse, in her short life with my friend, she had done some self injurious things, it seemed like when she got upset she lost her sense of self preservation
                                    the entire incident was horrifying, and this horse didn't die right away, we tried to save her for the owner but it was pretty clear she could not be saved although the vet trached her and we tried advanced life support


                                    • #19
                                      If she reared and flipped on the track, perhaps that caused some brain damage that could explain why she just wasn't right. If that was the case, there's NOTHING you could have ever done to "fix" her. She would have been time bomb, just waiting to go off. Thank god no one was injured when she did flip with you.

                                      I agree with the other posters about fracturing her skull. Another possibility, perhaps, is some sort of aortic rupture or dissection. She would have bled out internally very, very quickly.


                                      • #20
                                        I am going to chime in with thinking it was an aneurysm. It probably was what made her have those "moments". Seizures can come in different forms and perhaps that was what the rearing was? Don't know, not a vet although I am a nurse. Don't blame yourself. At least it was a quick death with no suffering. Debi