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Mourning a horse during a big life change?

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  • Mourning a horse during a big life change?

    I lost my horse two years and eleven months ago, and while of course there are occasional really bad days, they were not too common. However, ever since a big life change (going to college) I have been missing him desperately pretty much every day. While I am used to having pictures of him around at home, I could not display his picture in my dorm room because it upset me too much. The occasional bad day I used to have is now almost every day, and it has only been since I moved away to school. I find myself tearing up for him frequently, whereas before it was only once every couple months.

    Has anyone else experienced this during a life change? Any advice?
    <><

  • #2
    I am really sorry for your loss.

    What happened to me was that "losing" the horse was what made the big life change in my case. Blaze didn't die, but he did get moved far away when our barn closed. That utterly and completely disrupted my life. Suddenly I lost the horse I loved, and rode 2-3 times a week, and took care of. I went from spending every weekend at the barn (and occasional weekdays) to having no barn to go to. And besides losing Blaze, I lost half my human friends, because they moved to other barns with their horses and now spend weekends at the barn (so we don't get together). That left a huge void in my life.

    I am guessing that in your case, being away from home (for the first time?), going to college, having all the stress (good and bad) of that, starting a whole new complex educational system, are all exacerbating the situation, putting your emotions very close to the surface, so that it doesn't take much to move you to tears. You may be missing not just your horse but a lot of other loved ones as well. I am truly sorry.

    When I went to college, going from a big city to a small town and a college that had agricultural and animal sciences courses right there on campus, I found a horse to ride about a quarter of a mile from my dorm. I met her owner, and he let one of the other freshmen and me ride her, so I rode her at least twice a week, on all the trails and in the fields that belonged to the school. While I was able to ride that horse, I was really happy and loved college.

    I hope something similar will happen for you to bring joy and new friends (including equine ones) into your life.
    Founder of the People Who Prefer COTH Over FB Clique
    People Who Hate to Rush to Kill Wildlife Clique!
    "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique

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    • #3
      Oh RTR I can certainly understand how you are feeling. My heart goes out to you.

      I lost my first horse while away at college, and it took me forever to get over it. I often missed him most when things got hard.... because he had been my solace as a teen/child and I missed having that security.

      It was only in the last year or so that I'd finally found some peace, and let his memory rest a bit... and that opened the door for another special horse to come into my life. He too passed away, far too soon, but I had him through some months that involved a lot of life changes.

      Now that he is gone I miss him terribly, like my first horse he had been a steady, reliable, kind creature and I miss having that presence in my life.

      I'm still grieving myself and not sure what to do next. I know after I lost my first horse, I "adopted" some of the senior horses at the barn that had absentee owners... grooming, giving them treats, making sure they were blanketed, trimmed, wormed, etc. It helped.

      Can't offer a whole lot of advice, but a ton of empathy. Hugs to you my friend.
      We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

      Comment


      • #4
        "I am guessing that in your case, being away from home (for the first time?), going to college, having all the stress (good and bad) of that, starting a whole new complex educational system, are all exacerbating the situation, putting your emotions very close to the surface, so that it doesn't take much to move you to tears. You may be missing not just your horse but a lot of other loves ones as well. I am truly sorry."

        I agree with what was said here. When one is sad for whatever reason, then sad memories seem to bubble to the surface. I've noticed that whatever was destroying me one week would slip to the back of my brain when I was happy.

        Hang in there and you will find that you will adjust to your new environment...make new friends and generally get into the daily groove....stay busy (which isn't hard at school) and these painful memories will lessen.

        Having said that, its ok to grieve for a while but then let him go. Is there a place that you might ride sometimes???

        Oh yes...be very aware that hormones will turn your world upside down monthly too...its the curse of being a woman...and you will soon stop to check the "time" when suddenly you feel blue!! Had to toss that into the mix because its just a fact of life!!
        "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"

        Comment


        • #5
          Your horse was your home and your safe place. No other horse can replace him, but another horse can give you some peace and help you deal with all the stress of your new life.

          You don't need to buy one or even ride one, but if you can find one to just groom and smell and be around it can really help you stay calm and make you feel better.


          There is just something about a horse that makes you feel grounded. They don't say much, but they listen really well and agree with everything

          Sometimes when we lose something we do not have the time to grive. You can cry for a horse you lost years ago becuase you need a really good cry and thats the saddest thing you have known. When you just need a good cry you let out your grief for your lost horse.

          Have a good cry then eat some ice cream

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by RoyalTRider View Post
            I lost my horse two years and eleven months ago, and while of course there are occasional really bad days, they were not too common. However, ever since a big life change (going to college) I have been missing him desperately pretty much every day. While I am used to having pictures of him around at home, I could not display his picture in my dorm room because it upset me too much. The occasional bad day I used to have is now almost every day, and it has only been since I moved away to school. I find myself tearing up for him frequently, whereas before it was only once every couple months.

            Has anyone else experienced this during a life change? Any advice?
            Any time my life seems spiraling out of hand I remember my Mickey and cry my eyes out . I will always hold him in my heart. He comforts me from the grave when times are tough. I miss him so. 43 years and and hundreds of horses through my life and still he was my "one" I will listen for his hoof beats in heaven ((((hugs)))) Woody
            "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"

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            • #7
              I lost my once in a lifetime horse a week before my senior year of high school started. I bought a new horse two weeks later and for the next two years, hated him for the most part. The first year of college was particulary hard, I kept thinking to myself "This is supposed to be Alex here with me". I had a perfect trip in an equitation course and came out bawling. My new coach [I go to college 850 miles away from home] was like: "What's wrong!?!?! That was the perfect trip!" And all I could do was sob back that it wasn't on my perfect horse.


              That first year, I cried everytime I went to the barn.

              Last year, my current horse had to have surgery. I had no support system around me: no trainer in NJ, parents & home trainer 850 miles away, etc. I sat in the waiting room by myself during the 4 hour operation, and cried because it was only then that I realized how important the current horse is to me, and how afraid I am to lose him, too.

              I don't know if you have bought a new horse, or not, but trust me: crying is normal.

              Additionally, the high school semester that started the week after my horse had died I had a course called Death & Dying, that I had coincidentally signed up for. I really thought for awhile that I was going to need to drop the class,purely for emotional reasons, and then I found out that a number of classmates had lost parents, best friends, and even siblings. For me, it put things in perspective and I also learned a lot about the emotional process I was going through. One key thing I learned was that what grieving you don't allow yourself at the time of death, will resurface later and you will grieve then. Maybe that's what you're going through now?

              Good luck
              <3
              CLIPclop Bodyclipping by Morgan
              Serving North GA with high quality clips.
              --> Just Press Start // '99 Oldenburg
              --> Always The Optimist (reg. Simply Stylin) // '02 Thoroughbred

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              • #8
                Remember that there is always free counseling available to students, and it's probably a really good idea to go talk to someone about grief and grieving before it starts affecting how well you acclimate to college. If they don't seem to understand the horse thing, explain to them that it's like you lost a really important pet who was always there for you, and they should at least be able to understand that. If that doesn't work, just have a talk about grief in general. I'm very sorry for your loss
                Somewhere in the world, Jason Miraz is Goodling himself and wondering why "the chronicle of the horse" is a top hit. CaitlinAndTheBay

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                • #9
                  Perhaps you're not entirely mourning the horse, but instead are mourning the life change. Your horse was important during the comparatively safe and carefree part of your life. For all intents and purposes you're now leaving your "childhood" behind and beginning to enter the adult world with all the responsibilities that entails. While that's terribly exciting, it can also be very scary and a little intimidating, whether you're conscious of those emotions or not. At some time or another all of us long to go back to a simpler time in our lives. Just a thought - so much for my "backyard psychology".
                  In an age when scientists are creating artificial intelligence, too many of our educational institutions seem to be creating artificial stupidity.—Thomas Sowell, Is Thinking Obsolete?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    When I went to college I got severely depressed. So something like losing a horse, even some time before, would have been the kind of thing that would have kept cropping up and making me sad.
                    Talk to your doctor. Just to make sure you are ok, you might need some help.
                    Good luck.
                    www.ncsporthorse.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Your horse was your home and your safe place. No other horse can replace him, but another horse can give you some peace and help you deal with all the stress of your new life.

                      You don't need to buy one or even ride one, but if you can find one to just groom and smell and be around it can really help you stay calm and make you feel better.
                      What lovely words.

                      Grief has it's own course, and pays no mind to the calendar or the seasons at all... except when the season resembles the season of your loss.

                      There are some wonderful words of advice above.

                      I lost my best girl 5 years ago next month. I have broken down sobbing as recently as last month. And yes, I definitely miss her more when life gets tough.

                      Horses touch a part of us that is beyond words. So mere words cannot mitigate the grief and emptiness that accompanies their loss.

                      I am sorry it still hurts so badly, and I *get* it. I hope you are able to gather some wisdom from the posts here and find something that helps to get through each day more easily. Not to be trite, but sometimes we need more than just talking or counseling, it's taboo, but talk to your family Dr. if you can. Grief and stress make chemical changes in the body and brain, and sometimes they can't quite recover on their own. Sometimes they can--with plenty of rest, a good diet, talking to someone who cares... but sometimes we need to rebalance those chemicals. It's not a bad thing, just a chemical thing. It's like the parking break being on in the car soooo hard that you can't release it... sometimes you need just a little help to release it.

                      (((hugs)))
                      InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Take advantage of all of the great services available to you on campus, you should have counseling available at most any college. I would guess that you are still upset about the horse, but that you also are having some trouble adjusting a major change. Please get help--college is too important and fun of an experience to miss it because of depression, and there are better ways to honor a beloved horse. Good luck!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RoyalTRider View Post
                          I lost my horse two years and eleven months ago, and while of course there are occasional really bad days, they were not too common. However, ever since a big life change (going to college) I have been missing him desperately pretty much every day. While I am used to having pictures of him around at home, I could not display his picture in my dorm room because it upset me too much. The occasional bad day I used to have is now almost every day, and it has only been since I moved away to school. I find myself tearing up for him frequently, whereas before it was only once every couple months.

                          Has anyone else experienced this during a life change? Any advice?
                          Yep. It's like having flashbacks. There have been times I have fgone for months or even years at a time without mourning any of the horses I've lost, during times of high stress the sorrow does come back. It comes back for the humans I've lost, too. I hope you are only mourning the horse you lost because you are too young to have lost any humans.

                          I have no words of wisdom that will fix it. If I knew how to make it stop, I'd stop in in myself. The only thing I can do in these situations is t cry briefly, then buckle down and work harder.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Been there, done that! Starting college from a small town high school was a big change with a steep learning curve. The courses were much tougher, and the Freshman year was loaded with "junk" courses that kept us from spending as much time as was really needed on the "core" curricula. Results: intense frustration and longing for the "good old days" with friends (two and four-legged) back home. A faculty advisor later admitted this was intended to quickly "winnow the wheat from the chaff" because the college had infrastructure to handle only so many upperclassmen.

                            It's a "suck it up" scenario that (almost) everyone goes through, some are just better at hiding it than others. You have to force yourself to deal with it. Look at as part of your education in learning to cope with the "real world".

                            Try this: spend some spare time (not that it really exists in a college scenario) in the library learning eveything you can about horses. Not fiction, but historical and factual books. If your college has a Vet school, you're really blessed! If the library can't help, the internet can.

                            It'll get better with time. Hang in there and remember: "Non Illegitimi Carborundum"**!

                            **Don't let the bastards grind you down!
                            The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
                            Winston Churchill

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              RoyalTRider,

                              As someone who grieved for a very long time after my first mare had to be put down, I am truly sorry for what you're going through. It can take a long time and transitions definitely can re-stimulate a fresh cycle of grief. Even though it's been almost 3 years.

                              I think that what others have stated here is accurate and I especially agree with the advice to take advantage of the counseling center's services. I did my pre-doctoral internship at a college counseling center and I can tell you firsthand that a number of clients presented for very similar reasons as you. While there is absolutely nothing abnormal about grieving a previous loss more acutely when you make such a change as moving away from home and starting college, you do not have to face it alone. Take care of yourself as you would someone you loved--go and talk to someone about this--have a place where you know it's fine to cry your eyes out.

                              Keep reaching out to others like you've done here. There is no reason you have to bear the burden alone.

                              Maybe when you're feeling stronger you can share a picture of your boy here?

                              Margie
                              "The slogan will take you like lemmings to the cliff. You'll feel better than ever, and into the abyss... There'll be no more war, there'll be no more choice." PiL

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                              • #16
                                Most of the time, people go away to school and feel - well - lousy. After a few weeks it goes away and one gets involved in things and feels better.

                                If it doesn't get better?

                                See a doctor. It sounds like depression. It may be brief and clear up in a few weeks, as these things often do, but it might not. See a doctor.

                                If positive self talk, support and kindness of friends, a few days off, a long walk in a beautiful place, don't lift your mood, you need more help. IF those self help efforts leave you feeling empty and hopeless, see a doctor. If you feel numb, as if you're barely able to put one foot in front of the other and get thru your daily routine day after day, if friends are expressing concern, if your family is showing concern, see a doctor. If you have thoughts of self harm, see a doctor.

                                Feeling mostly down for most of every day for more than a few weeks, where your thoughts constantly go to a previous loss...time to see a doctor.

                                You were doing pretty well with this loss, able to look at pictures, it sounds like, and able to have a bad day about it every few months.

                                When a person is depressed, previous losses occupy their thoughts, even losses they had adjusted fairly well to.

                                Depression can be a very insidious illness that sneaks up on a person. It's very important to make sure what seems like sadness and adjustment problems aren't really depression. If it is depression, it can be treated successfully. If it isn't depression, it's good to know that.

                                Those who love their horses and care about them often feel a sense of loss for a long time. Most never get to the point where they don't feel a touch of sadness when fondly recalling a beloved animal. That's natural. Everyone views grief differently, and many get very angry when their intense grief is suggested to be 'an illness such as depression.

                                That isn't quite how it works though. Usually sadness over a loss is only one part of depression. When someone's down it may be very hard for them to notice all the things one might be feeling or experiencing, such as changes in appetite, weight, sleep, energy levels, speed of decision making and level of concentration, so many other things can also be going on as well. That 'down' period might even be a part of a mood disorder - those with mood disorders don't just go from a normal mood to depression, they may swing from deep lows to high highs. It can be VERY hard for the person themselves to notice that, and often symptoms are rather mild and hard to pick up on. Being depressed actually takes away some of a persons ability to evaluate their own condition.

                                Therefore, it's better to seek out some advice from a doctor, so possible depression or mood problems aren't missed. Many people tend to try and avoid the possibility that those persistent feelings might be a sign of depression.

                                It's really for a doctor or specialist to say exactly whethere it's normal grief and sensitive feelings, or something more major. When you see a change this major, though, it's a very good idea to do the right thing and get it checked out.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  RTR -

                                  You didn't just lose your horse. You lost him tragically. I remember.... it was horrible. I'm so sorry.

                                  Seems like you're going through another big stress - just not a tragic one. I have no advice or assistance for you - I'm not qualified to offer any. I think homesickness or being a little scared or lost may be normal during this time; I'm sure there is a counselor available on campus should you need it. Don't hesitate to seek out that person.

                                  In a way I envy you - though you're sad now (and I sympathize), this will be a great time of your life and you're going to grow a great deal, and meet people who may become your lifelong friends.

                                  I'm so sorry you lost your horse - please please please pick up the phone and contact a counselor. Or ask a friend to do it. There's no shame.

                                  Best wishes
                                  Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                                  Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                                  -Rudyard Kipling

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I think many of us have experienced those same feelings. I think it's because our horses are such a big part of who we are, and the bond we feel with them can be very strong. When I went to college, I had to sell my OTTB. I had taken that little filly from a scrawny track reject to a confident show horse and Pony Club mount. I had worked off her board so I was up every morning to run to my neighbor's barn to feed and turn out the horses. That mare was the center of my life and I absolutely loved her.
                                    After I sold my mare, I had recurring nightmares for almost ten years in which I thought I had forgotten to feed her and she was waiting in the barn for me to take care of her (Twilight Zone music here).

                                    We love our horses, and when we have to part with them, it is truly like losing a piece of our heart. It is perfectly normal for you to be missing your horse at a time in your life when you may be feeling lonely and stressed. At some level, maybe you are longing for the love, security and happiness your horse gave you.

                                    Does your school have a riding team, or an Equine Science program? I rode on my college team and it did help the trauma of having to sell my horse, and later on I was able to care for a horse that had been donated to the school that was unrideable. Just being able to go to the barn, groom that mare and spend time with her was a huge positive in my life at that time.
                                    Hang in there and best of luck to you. At least you know you're not the only one who has felt this way.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Hey everyone, sorry it took so long to respond- time gets away much easier in college! I am doing much better the last few days. I really, really appreciate the advice and support. I took some advice and called home to have a good cry shortly after I posted and it felt good. The more I get settled in and the busier I stay, the easier it becomes. I think, like last weekend, the weekends will be tougher because I have less to do, but I'm trying to keep busy.

                                      To answer a question a few of you asked, I am not riding at the moment nor have access to horses, unfortunately. However, if everything goes according to plan, I will be riding next semester as well as working with horses on the ground.
                                      <><

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        . I think, like last weekend, the weekends will be tougher because I have less to do, but I'm trying to keep busy.
                                        After some 25 years on my own, I still get melancholy some weekends when I'm at loose ends. It happens, it's normal.

                                        I'm very glad things are looking better. Believe it or not, it's not awful to not be doing horses this first semester. Its' all quite overwhelming, and there are things you are/will be participating in that you would NOT be were you riding. Trust me on that.

                                        I worked all but 1 semester of college, and I missed out on a lot of the college stuff--I don't *regret* it per se (it was horsey work ) but I certainly didn't get the full experience... if I were to go to a homecoming, there would be very, very few who would remember/recognize me.

                                        So while I think it's AWESOME you'll be back in the saddle for the spring semester, this fall, it's not the worst thing to be afoot.

                                        Hang in there!
                                        InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
                                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

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