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The Heartbreak of Saying Goodbye

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  • The Heartbreak of Saying Goodbye

    This past weekend, I had to say goodbye to my beloved Shire gelding, Dancing Bear whose picture is my avatar. This wonderful horse was part of our family for over fifteen years. He was truly a gentle giant, a constant source of comfort and laughter, the best equine babysitter on the planet and a patient, forgiving teacher. We could pull him out of a winter pasture, toss his saddle on and give 'pony' rides to guests and he would rise to the occasion. He thought of our kids as his own private entertainment, watching skateboarding in the barn, stealing popsicles, demanding ear scratches and loving his morning grazing routine on our front lawn with Mr. Chai before work.

    He taught me Dressage, and with his other owner early in his life, he won with respectable scores. We gave it a try but I knew he was happiest at home on our farm with his easy life and his equine friends. He was boarded in the last few years, and I was so lucky to find a barn where he was loved and well cared for, with a fantastic trainer who got us both out of retirement mothballs and helped me realize how much Bear loved his role as a teacher. He had free rein on the farm to scratch on his favorite trees, groom with his best buddy and roam the grounds at will. I am so grateful for that. When I would drive into the farm, he would greet me at my car like a dog, trying to fit his gigantic head in the window for a nuzzle and treats.

    He slipped and fell in November, and although he initially appeared to be recovering nicely with the help of our extraordinary veterinarian and barn owner, and my two hour long trips to the barn every day to make sure he had his meds and treats, things took a turn for the worse recently. Complications developed and it became clear that his twenty seven year old body was losing the fight for recovery. A bone infection set into his hock and he was in tremendous pain, although his wonderful disposition never changed. I had to balance how much I love him with the reality we were facing - infection, fever, pain and virtually no hope for recovery. The odds weren't just long, they were nonexistent, and the decision for euthanasia was both the most easy and difficult choice I have ever had to make. I called on all the spirits of his departed equine and human friends to be waiting for him and it helps me to think he had quite a group waiting to greet him when he passed over.

    If we are lucky enough in this life to have even one horse as special as my dear Dancing Bear, we have been given a special gift. My kids grew up with Bear and his steady good nature helped me through the death of my sister, my husband and my Dad, and he saw me through every challenge in my life with steadfast friendship. Godspeed, Bearsy, and thank you for everything.

  • #2
    Heartfelt sympathies and hugs to you.


    • #3
      I'm sorry that you lost your beautiful friend but what a moving tribute. He was lucky to be yours and you were blessed to be his.


      • #4
        I am so sorry you lost your friend.


        • #5
          So sorry for your loss, sounds like he was a one in a million horse.
          "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

          "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig


          • #6
            What a gorgeous horse - both inside and out. It's hard to say goodbye to the special one. I'm so very sorry for your loss.
            "Cats aren't clean; they're covered with cat spit."
            - John S Nichols (1745-1846,writer/printer)

            Don't come for me - I didn't send for you.


            • #7
              Oh chai, I'm so incredibly sorry to read this. Your decision was one of immense love for your boy and he knew that. What a life you gave him! My heart breaks for you but is also rejoicing for you for having the opportunity to have had him in your life for so long! What a gift he was and what a gift you gave him in return.

              Sending you comfort, peace and a gentle grief until you meet again...
              Blessings )O(
              "A lie doesn't become truth, wrong doesn't become right, and evil doesn't become good, just because it's accepted by a majority." Rick Warren


              • #8
                So sorry for your loss, but what a beautiful tribute to your dear friend. Wonderfully written. I can feel how much love you had for him. Hugs!


                • #9
                  OP, what a wonderful tribute to your beloved horse!

                  He was/is well loved and I think a horse can ask for no more. You loved him enough to make that oh so difficult choice knowing he would be happier for it. He'll be with you always.


                  Maybe the reason I love animals so much is because the only time they have broken my heart is when they've crossed that rainbow bridge


                  • #10
                    I am also so sorry for the loss of your beautiful horse. That decision is difficult and heartbreaking, but as you say, intellectually easy because there was no getting better from the situation.

                    I had to make the same decision for my 27-year-old mare last spring. Her fetlocks where changing, sinking and she was starting to show pain, changing weight on her hind feet every few seconds. The vet and I suspected DSLD but I didn't bother doing the test because it was clear that at her age, there was nothing we could do to stop the progress of that deterioration or heal those ligaments. She had some other things going on as well and I felt very strong that my decision to euthanize was the right thing to do, but you can tell by my long explanation that I still feel bad and even conflicted -- my emotions don't match my logical brain.

                    So I understand what you are going through and how you are sad and missing your big, sweet, kind, funny and charming Bear.
                    "Random capitAlization really Makes my day." -- AndNirina


                    • #11
                      Tearing up here chai . And what an incredible gift for your children to be raised with such a wonderful equine mentor in their lives, as a riding horse or even in the role of a large, kind, gracious pet. They'll never forget him.

                      Heartfelt condolences for the loss of your mare too PeteyPie


                      • #12
                        What a special boy--so very sorry for your loss
                        \"Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.\" Anne of Green Gables


                        • Original Poster

                          Thank you, everyone, for your kind thoughts. PeteyPie, I am so sorry about your mare. I totally understand those conflicting thoughts, but I hope time has given you peace.


                          • #14
                            So sorry he is gone, but it was the right decision, better than having to endure any longer.

                            A horse of a lifetime, indeed, how lucky for both of you for the years you had together.


                            • #15
                              He knew you would make the hard decision when he needed you the most. Godspeed
                              McDowell Racing Stables

                              Home Away From Home


                              • #16
                                Hugs to you.
                                I am Facing a similar decision for my old gal this winter. I cannot subject her to another Ocala summer Heaves and Cushings make it jsut too hard on her 31 year old body. I have never had to do this. Reading these stories helps.


                                • #17
                                  Oh, I am so sorry, A wonderful tribute to a wonderful Shire. They are such sweethearts. Hugs


                                  • #18
                                    chai The Great Ones leave behind so many memories.
                                    Painful at first, then the kind that make you smile through tears.

                                    {HUGS} to you & all who were privileged to know Bear.
                                    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                                    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                                    Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                                    Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                                    • #19
                                      So sorry for your loss. (((((HUGS)))))
                                      "You can't fix stupid"- Ron White


                                      • #20
                                        So sorry, but what a beautiful tribute.....