As I have blundered more and more into old age, writing has become a hobby for me. At times of stress I find it very cathartic to sit to record my thoughts on paper. The effort involved must be akin to that of making a confession, not that I would know much about the ways of religion. At least I get some relief from the thoughts which otherwise would circle aimlessly around in my head.
Strangely, I do not want to keep repeating the discussions I have had with people close to me on a day to day basis, particularly those who knew my horse. They may have met with the same horse which I knew but they have their own memories of her, which at the time I did not share. Perhaps they came to think of her as a sharp horse to ride and one to be handled with care. Indeed from time to time she could be a ‘baggage’. Undoubtedly I always regarded her through rose coloured glasses. It was only when the level 4 ulcers were belatedly discovered when they realized that she had a good reason to be fractious on those occasions when the stomach acid was sloshing around the raw ulcers. I shall always remember her as a kindly mare but one who had her moods.
Undoubtedly the young woman on whose private yard my horse was in livery has been deeply upset by the whole affair. My horse was but one of the five which she cared for and trained for dressage on a daily basis. She has her own favourite, a very competent if sensitive gelding, who was rescued by her for a nominal sum of money. She shelters him from the vicissitudes of this world much as I tried to protect my mare. She cannot afford to insure him from disease, so if he were to need expensive drug treatment then she would not provide it for reasons of cost. She had recognised my horse’s distress early on and was for the euthanasia route a lot sooner than me. Somehow despite her otherwise caring concern for my horse, I did not like the notion that she would give up on her and write my mare off as being irretrievably busted. I felt that my strong minded mare had the spirit to live and the fortitude to fight her corner and merely needed some help and understanding from the humans around her.
The chief vet in whose hands my horse’s life and level of care rested was a specialist. I did not like that he saw the disease to be an interesting one. For him my horse was just another horse in distress but one which was suffering from a rare complaint. I could not erase my thinking that he saw her as a guinea pig. In truth, I do him a disservice because at the end he was positively helpful and openly honest in his view of the situation. I, as the owner, was saved by him from having to make the final decision. We had no option but to put the horse down and thereby ease her distress.
The insurance company managers were clerks who read the rules and responded accordingly. When speaking to them I found it difficult when my voice broke as invariably it would. I had to stop talking and hold the phone away so that they could not ‘hear’ my tears. But nevertheless their financial support was forthcoming.
Neighbours, friends and relatives, all showed concern but when they raised the subject, mostly out of compassionate politeness, they became embarrassed when they recognised the despair in my distress. In reality they did not know what to say to me beyond: “sorry for your loss“. To them I was a man whom they knew to have a hobby of horse riding but they had very little idea of what the horse really represented to me. To watch me burst into ears was for them an extremely uncomfortable experience. In many cases they had over the years formed an image of me and there I was shattering that inaccurate perception into pieces.
However here on the HorseForum
there is an outlet for my thoughts and my writing. Only a horse owner who has formed a true bond with a horse can understand the impact which the loss of that horse can represent. Undoubtedly many of you out there in the ether have had similar experiences when your own horse has died. Some of you have yet to experience the grief of losing a loved one, be it of another animal species. Some of you are also dog owners and you will know that the death of the four legged companion which has become part of the daily routine of your own life represents a traumatic and highly emotional event from which it takes time to recover. I must apologise for reminding some of you of your own personal past grief at the demise of your own horse.
Thank you readers, especially to those who have expressed their sympathy in a few words tapped out on this thread. You have given comfort merely by your invisible presence and understanding.
As my father once said: “ noone, and for some of us, no animal, is really dead until someone still living ceases to remember them
.“ DiDi lives on in my head and now resides with the other horses and dogs which I have been privileged to know during my lifetime.
Thank you all for your concern and kindly thoughts. Much appreciated
. Barry G
PS As I write this note, I look down at the nine year old Rottweiler, who these days appears a little tatty from the side effects of the Cushings disease from which he suffers. He sleeps, as he does for much of the day. I have told him that he is not going anywhere. His sole job now is to keep me company and not to mosey off to pastures new up in the sky.