Well, it's taken me a week to get to the point where I could sit down and do this. Last Friday evening I went out to feed the boys, Sonny and Joe, and found Big Joe standing motionless outside of the run in. It was a cold and wet day and both the boys would normally have been standing inside the run in, but they weren't. They were both standing in the cold, rainy, and windy open air. It immediately struck as unusual. As I got close to Joe I knew something was wrong, as it was obvious that he hadn't moved in a while, except to pivot in a circle off of his right front quarter. His left frontleg was just dangling there. It immediately made me sick to my stomach.
Big Joe was a 23 y.o. Grulla Quarter Horse. He would have turned 24 in just a couple more weeks. He was my wifes favorite horse. She called Big Joe her "Sancho", and they had a very strong connection. Big Joe had been a champion cutting horse, a winning barrel racer, and had been used for the last few years as a therapy horse for autistic children, and for the boy scouts horsemanship merit badge. He was as sweet, gentle, and smart as they come. He stood 16.3 HH, had eyes and a face that just seemed to talk to you. I never once saw Joe even begin to spook. There was just something is Joe that made you love him. Our 3 year old grandson, who is autistic, just loved to be up on Joe's back, and Joe seemed to light up whenever little Gunner was around. He was truly a "once in a lifetime" horse.
I immediately called my wife and told her there was something bad wrong with Joe, and that I thought he had broken his leg. I then called the vet and told him he needed to get out there right away. My wife called her friend and told her. Her and her husband came out immediately. My wife also called our farrier, who was just down the road from us, and asked him to come and look at Joe. Joe was shaking real hard, and you could tell he was fighting to stay on his feet. I knew that this night was not going to end well. It was about 4:30 PM when I found Joe standing there. At about 8:30 that night, in the cold, wet, rainy, and windy night Joe crossed over the rainbow bridge. Dr. John had given him 2 injections of that pink juice, and we were all horrified at the long, protracted process that was supposed to be a peaceful ending for Big Joe. My heart ached for Joe, and even more so for my wife as I watched her agonize over Joe's death. It was truly ugly and horrifying. Long periods of short, deep, hard breathing, seizures, and repeated gaspings for air. It just seemed to never end. I learned that night I will never again let our Vet, (and he's a great vet, and this is in no way, shape, or form anything against him), put any of our horses down. I am now thuroughly convinced that shooting a horse is by far the more humane and quicker way to euthanizing a horse. Nobody will ever be able to convince me otherwise.
Big Joe was truly a gentle giant, and he so positively impacted the lives of all of us who knew him. WE love you Joe!
Don't cry for the horses that life has set free-
A million white horses forever to be.-
Don't cry for the horses now in God's hand-
As they dance and they prance in a heavenly band.-
They were ours as a gift, but never to keep-
As they close their eyes forever to sleep.-
Their spirits unbound. On silver wings they fly-
A million white horses against the blue sky.-
Look up into heaven, you'll see them above--
The horses we lost, the horses we loved.-
Manes and tails flowing they gallop through time.-
They were never yours-they were never mine.-
Don't cry for the horses. They'll be back someday.-
When our Time is gone, they will show us the way.-
Do you hear that soft nicker? Close to your ear?-
Don't cry for the horses. Love the ones that are here.-