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.