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really sad afternoon- need a little support- warning graphic

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  • really sad afternoon- need a little support- warning graphic

    my barn is in an area with two other friends' barns within walking distance. so yesterday i was walking with a friend and her horse to a lesson at our dressage trainers barn and we come in through her back pasture near the dressage arena.

    standing about 30 yards away, was a bay horse and it looked like to me, from that distance, that the horse had an old suspensory injury or dropped fetlock so i walked closer to see. as i approached, i could see the trainer coming down the hill to the arena and called out to her "has this horse's leg always been like this?" no sooner had i said it then i could see better and realized that this horse was standing there with a completely broken front leg, open fracture, in a pool of blood- there was just nothing left to hold her up under the knee- everything was broken. i walked to her and immediately just grabbed her around the neck as i could hear the trainer and barn manager just screaming in the background- the worst screams. i whispered to her that i was so sorry and she leaned on me and stood stock still with her throatlatch resting on my shoulder.

    as i looked at her leg and saw the blood just pouring out and the bones just not where they were supposed to be- it just hit me all of the sudden what was happening and i couldn't do anything for her but just try to support her- it just didn't seem real. the barn manager pulled herself together and got to me with a halter and the trainer called the vet and i turned to let the mare lean against my back and called my friend's mom at the barn next door and just told her to bring every bit of banamine and ace and whatever she had asap- it was like slow motion. it was just awful and all i could hear were a chorus of sobs and it seemed like no one was doing anything! (although i realize now that they were)

    the mare was so sweet and calm and just exuded class and grace- and in that unimagineable pain. she wanted to go down and she was just standing on this little incline with her hind end up hill and couldn't figure out a way. i felt so very helpless and we couldn't turn her or help her go down. my body was shaking and just dripping sweat because she was so heavy and i was so nauseated from adrenaline and emotion and sadness i guess.

    her owner walked out into the pasture right then with no idea of what was going on. all i could say was "please don't come out here, im so sorry", but of course, she came to her horse and just fell to the ground with grief.

    about that time it seems like 30 people arrived with banamine and everything we could find to give her for pain. another lady took my place holding her and the poor mare fell down but got back up before anyone could try to restrain her and keep her down. that's when i just walked her owner back to the barn and stood there- with no words. after a minute i asked her if there was anyone i could call for her and we got on the phone to her family and the horses owner (she had full leased the horse for two years though)

    her vet was 55 minutes away and out of four equine vets- there was no one closer- it was the longest 55 minutes EVER. in that time, as everyone held the mare and stood around her we just fed and mucked and hayed and watered 14 stalls to keep busy and wait for the vet at the barn.

    when the vet finally arrived, the mare was euthanized and it was finally over for that sweet soul. i walked out to her to patted her neck and i NEVER thought i would be so glad to see a horse lying there lifeless- finally her pain was over and finally she had some peace from what was the most tragic and severe injury i have ever seen a horse suffer. the vet said there was no way she could have been saved under any circumstances in any place with any veterinary surgeons in the world so this was the last gift of kindness she could give her.

    here is what i need help with:
    1. how do i get the image of that leg out of my mind? i know this is not about me and i can't imagine what her owner and leassor are feeling today but honestly, i am a mess about it. i know things happen with horses and i have seen horses die before and i lost my first horse in a tragic way, but that image is BURNED into my mind. i walked finally back to my barn and fed our girls and just cried into my horse's neck as she ate. i walked our pasture twice looking for anything that could be dangerous and just stared at my horses legs- i don't even know why. i am not a drama queen and i am not a screamer or a shrieker and was frankly a little shocked at all the people who did that yesterday around that poor sweet horse- but i am freaking out- in my own quiet way about this and i just can't get that picture out of my mind!

    2. how on earth can an injury like that occur in a relatively flat pasture with NOTHING around for her to run into? there were no holes around her- there was just grass and a very slight incline! it's not like she could have done it elsewhere and then hobbled towards the barn because there was literally nothing for her to put weight on- she was just there, with this horrible injury standing in a pool of blood.

    3. what do we (as the horse community around her) do for the girl who leased her- the one who arrived in the pasture and saw her like that? she loved that horse so very much and took absolutely PERFECT care of her. she doesn't have another horse to love or grieve with- do we offer her ours to love and ride and share or just leave her to grieve in the way she sees fit? my heart aches for her.

    sorry for such graphic descriptions and emotional descriptions but i know someone out there has been through something like this before and i just need help dealing with it. i feel like since i was the one that found her that everyone at that barn will see me and think about it every time i am around. i am just feeling a little lost today.
    Jazz- 4.9.01 OTTB, loved since 12.6.09
    Skip- 3.3.91 APHA, i miss you buddy

  • #2
    Answer to #2: Who knows? Horses are great at mangling themselves and finding profoundly stupid ways to die.

    As for #1 and #3, no ideas. Though on #3, really, there's nothing you can do except wait and see what, if anything, she wants/needs from everyone else. And accept it if the answer is "To be left alone." Some people REALLY do not like discussing loss/bereavement or being smothered by the well-meaning.

    And if it makes you feel any better at least at first the mare probably was in shock and wasn't feeling it. Shock and adrenaline are better than morphine sometimes.
    Author Page
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    Steampunk Sweethearts


    • #3
      I am so sorry for what you had to experience. God Bless you for being there for the horse, and supporting her and making her comfortable until she could be relieved of the pain.

      I am sorry I do not have any suggestions for your questions except #3. If there is a horse that you can offer her to ride, do it! even if she doesn't want to ride, the option is there.

      When my sister lost her horse to colic, so many people jumped in and offered horses to her to ride. It helped so much because it was not to replace her loved one, but just kept her into horses. Otherwise she is not just losing a horse, but losing the routine, the going out to the barn, the smell.

      Your friend needs something to keep her going back to the barn, Horses are the best therapy, even if its recovering from losing a horse.

      I am praying for everyone in that situation, It is not easy.
      God Bless!


      • #4
        Oh my condolences to all involved in this one. Just reading that made me think of the way the Pal Princess ended her life. I have never been able to talk about what happened to her and my family knows not to even mention it after 10 years. Just one day at a time and images of your horses happy and healthy will fill your mind. Time heals all wounds, maybe not the way you want them and you might have the scars but they do heal.
        Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
        Originally Posted by alicen:
        What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Tobias View Post

          When my sister lost her horse to colic, so many people jumped in and offered horses to her to ride. It helped so much because it was not to replace her loved one, but just kept her into horses. Otherwise she is not just losing a horse, but losing the routine, the going out to the barn, the smell.

          Your friend needs something to keep her going back to the barn, Horses are the best therapy, even if its recovering from losing a horse.
          Uh, I would REALLY wait and see if that's what the girl wants. It might be what she needs. It might be the last thing on Earth she wants to do right now. Heck, she might want to ride, but never go back to that particular barn.
          Author Page
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          Steampunk Sweethearts


          • #6
            How awful!

            To #1, time is the best answer. It's so fresh right now, and telling yourself "don't think about that!" will only make you think of it more. I witnessed and responded to an accident where a man was hit by a semi on the interstate, and it took awhile before I could close my eyes at night and not see it all over again. I used to jump round my favorite courses in my head lying in bed to get to sleep. Sometimes I would even do it on different horses, to distract myself by having to think how I'd ride that turn on one horse vs another. It helped. But eventually time takes it's course and you find you've gone a whole day, a whole week, a whole month without thinking about it. The human mind wants to protect itself, and while you will always remember the sight, eventually the pain of remembering it will dull. (Not to say it won't always be sad; it just won't always stab you in the chest.)

            On #2, you'll probably never know. Horses are so good at hurting themselves, and she could have just been cantering around and taken a horrible misstep.

            For #3, I would definitely make sure she feels like she is still a welcome member of the community, and that if she would like to ride, or just needs a horse to hug, there are always horses around to help with that (assuming that there are). I would think that flowers (or a plant - I gave a friend a plant once instead of flowers, and she said she loved it because it was ALWAYS there to remind her of her loved one and that she had support from her friends) would be a lovely gesture, and let her know that she is in everyone's thoughts. Ultimately, though, you have to take your cues from her, because people handle grief differently. She may want to surround herself with horses and horse people, she may want to be left completely alone, or she may be somewhere in the middle.

            Horses are wonderful, but they can be so heartbreaking.
            Proud member of the EDRF


            • #7
              Sometimes time will make those images go away.

              I was at a friend's barn many years ago. We were leaning on the fence watching the horses in the pasture and just talking. A great afternoon.

              The herd took off in one of those playful little whirling things that they do. They made a small circle and abruptly changed direction. A lovely chestnut gelding snapped his leg clean off just below the stifle. My friend and I were stunned and horrified! We raced out to the field and there had been some rock or boulder in the pasture almost covered with grass. The gelding had hind shoes and the vet guesses the sudden change in friction, the sudden turn and just crap happens had done it.

              We had to call his owner and indeed it is a horrible thing to deal with and there just does not seem to be an easy answer for any of it.

              I know it has probably been thirty years and the image and its horror has faded but it will never be gone I think. I do my best to use it as a celebrate every moment with your horse reminder and we cannot control much of anything.

              We do our best.

              Good luck and hugs to all those that were present.
              “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
              ? Albert Einstein


              • #8
                1. Only time will cure that for you. It'll always be there, but eventually it won't hurt so much.

                2. Horses will injure themselves in the oddest ways. A girl I used to board with lost her horse - they got turned out for the evening, he gave a squeal and a buck, came down and his leg just disintegrated.

                3. Send her a sympathy card. Put a personal note in it and let her know that when and if she's ever ready to come back, you'll offer her a horse to ride (or what ever arrangements you can offer).

                Originally Posted by JSwan
                I love feral children. They taste like chicken.


                • #9
                  So sorry you went through such a terrible experience. What an awful afternoon for everyone.


                  • #10
                    I am so sorry that you had to witness that and for the loss of that sweet horse. I'm glad you were there and relatively calm for her.

                    I agree with the others, it will take time. One thing I would do when I was grieving over my horse that I lost...when I would see an image in my brain of him during those difficult last moments, I would immediately try to replace it with a happy image of him, galloping through a field, jumping at a show, whatever I could do to just train myself not to think the "ugly" thought.

                    Good luck to you. (((HUGS)))


                    • #11
                      I'm so sorry for all of you. When I was 16 my beloved pet cat was hit by a car and managed to get home, wrapped up by me, and then to the Emergency vet. My father is a Korea veteran and when he finally saw the extent of the injuries at the E vet even he was shocked. It was dreadful and I'll never forget it but as Kementari said it no longer stabs me in the chest. I recall that I had to think of other things entirely, and then try to think of the good things once I didn't burst into tears just thinking about him.

                      Good for you to stand there and be strong for the horse and the other people.
                      The horse probably was in shock and felt very little, pasture accidents happen and sometimes they are grievous.

                      What I'd call the horse's connections, owner and lessor, might be comforted by a sympathy card depending on how well you knew them. My trainer placed a horse with me last year, a retiree, and placed another horse, more of a heart horse for her, with a vet friend this year. Well her heart horse passed, after a difficult few days and her vet sent her a sympathy card, which meant a lot to her. The members of the Youth group dedicated an album to a well loved and successful show horse still working in the lesson program after she died suddenly from an aneurism. Her owner was very touched.

                      Expressions of sympathy are always correct, but I'd wait and see for a little while before bringing up the subject of other horses and moving on. I rehomed my own horse and didn't want to have anything to do with horses, even though her new owner had offered to let me ride once in a while, for about a year.

                      Jingles and prayers for all of you who had to witness this sad event.
                      Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                      Incredible Invisible


                      • #12
                        Sorry you had to go through this, but I'm sure by being there you helped the mare and the girl who loved her be slightly more at peace. As for helping the girl grieve, I would maybe send her a note (possibly with flowers or a small plant as someone else suggested) and offer a horse to hug on/groom/hack around if she wants to do that, and then let it be. People grieve in different ways, she might want to be back at the barn the next day or she might want to take months off from riding. She may never want to ride again, you don't know. My beloved dog was hit by a car earlier this summer and I was devastated. My roommate offered to take care of the horses that night and everything, but I wanted to do my routine as per usual, just to be doing something and with animals. I picked out another puppy about a month later and brought him another month after that, even though my boyfriend and roommate both said it was too soon for another puppy. The new one will never, ever replace the dog that was hit but he is someone to channel my love into and he is a whole other wonderful, sweet soul to love all the same. She may be like me and want to channel her horsey love into something, maybe just by grooming your horse or another horse in the barn. She may be like my friends and think that would be way too soon and want to find something else to do with her time for now, it can't hurt to offer.
                        "to live is the rarest thing in the world, most people merely exist."


                        • #13
                          My horse died in a very graphic nature several years ago.

                          You will never get the image out of your head, I'm sorry. It will become less painful, but it will always be there. I still want to puke every time I smell a sickly sweet smell... I believe it was blood and DMSO, but I don't know for sure.

                          I really appreciated all the cards and letters I received. I was out of state at the time (and stayed out of state for several months) so the following months were very emotional and lonely.

                          I had some of the biggest names in Eventing tell my how sorry they were (I was in Ocala for the winter), and I had pony club kids from home sending me cards.

                          Someone cut some of his tail and send it off to become a bracelet. They gave it to me about a month later, enough time that I didn't burst into tears at the very thought of him being gone. I'd never WEAR the thing, but I love having it. It sits with the leather bracelet I got with his name on it.

                          They also kept his shoes for me. I kept them for awhile, but ultimately ended up tossing them. I don't know why they didn't mean as much as the bracelets. (and pictures, I have TONS of pictures)

                          Everyone who asks be for advice on a horse dying... I tell them that each of us grieves differently and not to let anyone tell you that you should/shouldn't ride or cry or whatever else. Whatever you FEEL like doing is right.
                          Yes, I ride a pony. No, he would not be ideal for your child. No, he is not a re-sale project...


                          • #14
                            I once restrained a horse who snapped his leg off beneath the knee. It was held on only by his extensor tendon. Thankfully the amount of time it took to get him euthanized was nowhere near as long as what you had to contend with as this happened during a race and the vet was on scene. This was not my horse but it happened right in front of me so I was first on the scene. No one owner/trainer/groom came to his side so I stayed with him until it was over. I too was haunted by the image of that leg flopping but as time went by I was actually comforted by the experience.

                            I have often heard from people as I am a volunteer EMT that people with horrific injuries that they felt no pain. I hoped that carried over to catastrophic injuries for horses as well but had my doubts until that day. As a horse trainer for almost 20 years I am pretty in tune with a horse's emotions. This horse clearly felt no pain. He really looked more confused than anything as to why he was so much shorter on that side.

                            You were chosen to be there with that horse because you were up to the task. There was a job to be done and you did it. You are going to pay the price emotionally for a while but eventually you will be grateful for being chosen. Now you never have to wonder if you have what it takes no matter what is involved. You earned your wings. Godspeed.
                            McDowell Racing Stables

                            Home Away From Home


                            • #15
                              Sorry you had the experience, I've walked in your shoes. Isn't it amazing when a horse suffers a catastrophic injury how calm they remain? Maybe a vet on this BB can explain. When my dear gelding broke his leg, he just stood there, no panicking.

                              Regarding the mare you helped, it could be she suffered a spiral fracture due to turning fast and walked around on it for day, while running in the flat field it snapped.

                              "You gave your life to become the person you are right now. Was it worth it?" Richard Bach


                              • #16
                                I am so sorry. I wish I could tell you some helpful thing, but I can't. You just. go. on. One foot in front of the other until it starts to dissipate a little.

                                As for this poor mare's girl - just be there. She too will need to just. go. on. for a while.

                                But in the mean time, you have done all you can do - for the horse, her people and yourself - which certainly was not easy. Now you just have to find a way to live with it. Be glad you were there and this poor mare did not stand like that through the night.

                                Share your grief and love your ponies.

                                My heart goes out to you and all this poor mare's people.

                                The above post is an opinion, just an opinion. If it were a real live fact it would include supporting links to websites full of people who already agreed with me.



                                • #17
                                  I am sorry you had to experience this. About six years ago I was at my farm and the barn manager decided to turn a 2 year old "stud colt" out with the mature bunch of boys. Well, all it did was stir up everyone. My horse thankfully stayed away from the kaos (sp). I was just watching over the rail and SNAP, like a tree branch and I looked up to see a horse scrambling.

                                  Once the horse stood back up his hind leg was swinging. The break was through the skin. I screamed for the BM and it was just the two of us trying anything to help this horse. It was to say the least horrible. Vet was an hour away as well. Owner came (the worst part) and was screaming and crying. I did not watch the horse go down while being euthe'd. I couldn't. I lived in the neighborhood so had to drive by the front field where he lay waiting for pick up.

                                  this will pass but it is horrific. It seems the horse was just in shock more than anything. I don't quite understand the pain threshold in those kind of situations. I hurt for the people. the people who love their babies. who have to go through it. so sad.
                                  Proud Member of the Opinionated Redhead Club! RIP my dear Avery ~3/21/1995-9/21/2011~

                                  Extreme Cat!!! 2006 OTTB
                                  Magic Cat - Final Demand


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by ReSomething View Post

                                    Expressions of sympathy are always correct, but I'd wait and see for a little while before bringing up the subject of other horses and moving on. I rehomed my own horse and didn't want to have anything to do with horses, even though her new owner had offered to let me ride once in a while, for about a year.
                                    Yes, this. I really, really didn't want to hear about it after my horse died (not injury, but still very suddenly.) Fortunately he was at home, not a boarding barn, but I still just really didn't want to talk about it/think about it/be forcibly reminded of it for a long time as the circumstances weren't pleasant and it just made me sick (and it was five years before I had the money, time, and desire to really think of buying another horse.) I'd send a card and wait to see what she wants to do about it.
                                    Author Page
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                                    • #19
                                      There are no words. I am so very sorry. In time the memory will fade but in the meantime take it easy. Eat well and get plenty of rest as your body as well as your mind went through a very stressful event.
                                      And definitely be there for that poor girl. She will need lots of support and love from everyone. Although its hard, take your cues from her. We all grieve in our own way and in our own time.
                                      Many hugs and much strength to you.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        thank you all so much for the advice, wisdom and you own stories- it really helps to know that there's always someone in the horse community that's been through what you are feeling!
                                        Jazz- 4.9.01 OTTB, loved since 12.6.09
                                        Skip- 3.3.91 APHA, i miss you buddy