Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Moving On

Convicted by my husband's "lecture" to me about the other horses, and knowing how right he was, I resolved to do better.

I called my sister and we decided to do a big Barn Spring Cleaning on Friday morning. It was drizzly, but warm, and we attacked my mess head on.

Naomi wonders how my feed room got into this mess in the firs place...."what the"....?



The tack room was just as bad...... I have just been dumping stuff in piles everywhere. Bad, bad, bad.


My English saddles on their floor rack are hidden behind those bridles somewhere....

Air compressor tack rack in the middle of the floor - has to go.

And, we're keeping things like this old broken curb chain why? Toss it....

The dressage test Major did in the eventing clinic, still on the bulletin board.


Yes, yes, this is my butt. And I am ok with this.

While Naomi and I were cleaning the barn, Kevin and Daniel fixed fences and gate posts.

Halley and Millie look on.....

Done! All clean!

Wow - I can see my things in there now.

Still not great in the feed room; but better. I think I need some shelves on that back wall, and I'll be all set. I think I know someone who could help me out with that.....

Even Jett gets some attention to his appearance. A little clip about the face...

Major's stall................

Monday, March 15, 2010


My sister drove up and jumped out of her car in her PJs. As she walked towards us, I shook my head. She broke down and started stroking his head and neck.

Paul, Kevin and I spoke for a moment about the whole day.

"What do you think about his being dehydrated?" I asked. "The tank was full; I just can't see him not being able to get to the tank to drink."

"Nope," Paul said. "I don't think this was caused by him being dehydrated. I think he got twisted early in the morning, and then didn't drink all day because he had a 'tummy ache', and that's why he was dehydrated," Paul said.

" Ok, because Dr. Smith acted like he was colicing because I let him get dehydrated," I told him. She had indicated that she thought it was my fault because I "let" him get dehydrated.


"I was here this morning, and he was fine. So if he was twisted then, why didn't I catch it then?"

"It would have taken a few hours to start. The circulation was cut off to part of his gut, and then the gas started building. So you wouldn't have known immediately, anyway," Paul explained. "You can do everything right - less feed, more hay and grass, turnout, less stall time, exercise - everything you do for him - and it would still have happened. Freak things just happen like this. They can be fine and dandy one day and drop over dead the next and there is nothing you can do about it. And it sucks - totally sucks that he was so young and talented..... I am so sorry."

We covered him with blankets, and went home. I cried my eyes out on the drive home, and crashed from physical and emotional exhaustion when I got to bed.

The next day, I went to the barn to do my morning feed and chores, I parked my truck in front of the barn and looked at his body under the blankets, and lost it.
Emma Thompson in Sense and Sensibility kind of freaking out. My feet felt like lead, every breath was a chore.

From there I went to my parent's farm three miles away to feed, and when I saw the fresh grave of our old horse Cavort, it made it worse.

We brought our backhoe to the farm and buried Major on the hillside behind the turnout shelter. Watching Kevin move his body to the grave brought fresh tears.

We shut his stall door, and hung his blanket and halter there. I still haven't cleaned his stall. I'm just leaving it be for awhile.

When my mom called me to find out how I was doing, I told her I just felt like taking a break from the horses for a while. Kevin knew how I felt, and he sort of chewed me out. "You can take a break all you want," he said. "But there are other horses in the barn than need us. Jazz and Montana still need attention and training. We can't just give up on them because we feel like crap about Major. They need us, too."

I knew he was right; I have to set aside my instinct to retreat from the pain; and be there for Jazz and Montana, who are still in need of lots of care and training.

So I am going to the barn, and I am doing my job. And I cry a little less each day. It still feels like a rock in my stomach when I pass his empty stall; his blanket hanging there, and his halter.

I haven't ridden yet. My sister and Daniel have. But I plan on it, soon.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Only The Good Die Young


My sister Naomi and her friend Daniel have been helping me with schooling and riding the horses recently. Naomi has been working with Major on his canter transitions, and Daniel has been riding my Perch/Tb cross mare that will be turning 6 in a few weeks. It was she and Daniel who found Major that afternoon. At that point he was standing, but clearly not right. She called me, I called our vet's office, and Kevin and I headed right over. The vet got there within 30 minutes and by that time he had collapsed in his stall. She examined him, gave him pain meds, determined he was not impacted, and tubed him. This was about 3 PM. He was also dehydrated, and she heard a heart murmur.

He was up and down all evening, drank some water, nibbled on some hay; etc. We were hopeful for a few hours that he was going to pull through and make it.

By 9 pm, he was not better, and a sickening dread had begun to fill me. He should have been getting better by now.

By 10 mp he was worse. Kevin gave him a second dose of Banamine, and we waited.

He started groaning, trying to thrash about, and was sweating. At 11pm Kevin said "Call Paul." (Paul is our regular vet. The vet from earlier was Paul's associate.)
"I can't do it," I said. "You call."


Paul got there shortly before midnight. I was so thankful that it was Paul on call that night. I have known Paul since he first got out of vet school and came to this area to practice. He is just a few years older than me, and we've always been friends. We've been through some dooseys together with horses. (One time, he did send me with a horse (belonging to a friend who was out of town) to Sate; she came through the surgery, and fell over dead the next day.) He is honest, funny, brilliant, good with horses, explains everything to you so you know just what is going on, sympathetic, practical - the perfect vet. Much of the time, I call him on his cell, say "This is what is going on", and he can walk me through a treatment on the phone. But not this time - this time, we really needed him.

He checked him over: guts, gums, heart rate. He slowly stood up.

"He's not good," he said. "More than likely he is twisted, and at this point I don't even know if he'd survive the trip to NC State, or the surgery."

"Surgery isn't and option for us," I said. "We just can't afford it." (With Kevin out of work, the $8000 - $10000 or more bills would sink us.)

"Well, I could give him a more powerful pain drug....."

"Why?" I asked. "What good is it going to do him?"

"Right. If I did it, it would buy him a few more hours; but..."

"NO. No, I can't do that to him.... I can't sit here and watch him suffer for another hour,"

"No; that is not right."

He paused, and then said the words I had been dreading and knowing were coming all along:

"Well.... do you just want to put him down, then?"

Kevin and I nodded. Kevin went to the tack room, weeping.

Daniel knelt by Major's head, soothing him.

Paul went to the truck for the fatal dose.

I thought about retreating to the feed room and avoiding the whole scene. Then I decided I owed it to my boy to be there until his last seconds.

Paul Came back from the truck and stood next to me. "Are you ready?" he asked, quietly. I nodded.

I had to turn away as he put the needles in Major; then I went to his side. Kevin came out and stood with Paul in the cold and the silence.

Major took three deep breaths, and lay still. I thought he was dead. Then I reached and touched his face, and he took on last shuttering breath.... and was gone.

It was exactly midnight.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why? Why, why, why.........again.

My dear friends............... once again I bear no glad tidings for this blog, which seems to grow increasingly dark and morbid.

Last night, at exactly midnight, I tried to soothe my horse, Major, as he took his last shuttering breaths in the darkness.

The pain is too much, I cannot bear it, I cannot elaborate right now; I cannot think right now, I can hardly see through my tears to write this right now, I cannot.

Just please, think good thoughts and say a prayer for me these next few days because I am ready to give up, throw in the towel and quit all together.

This pain is too much. My heart can only bear so much.

We bury Major this afternoon. He was 5 years old. I had him 2 years.

And now, he is gone.

Just like that.