This same day, our barn owner moved two other horses, one of our geldings and a mare named Cocoa, into the pasture which normally only has three geldings, including our other gelding Norman. When we moved to this barn we asked that Norman not be put with mares because he has gotten aggressive in the past. He immediately took to Cocoa and started following her around and pinning his ears and charging the other horses when they would get within about twenty feet of Cocoa. He would chase them occasionally, but he didn't ever get far from Cocoa without turning back. We called our barn owner with our concerns about Norman and Cocoa and she said all the horses just needed to learn their place.
Mel, in the meantime has been pacing back and forth along the fence at the front of the pasture near the water troughs. When Cocoa went to get water, Norman charged Mel, the new mare and gave chase, scaring Mel so badly that she peed on her self as she ran away. At this point, we went and got Mel, hosed her off, saw that she had bites and called the barn owner again. I told her that I did not want Norman with Cocoa or Mel and explained what we had seen. I went and got Cocoa and put her back in her now empty pasture and another boarder who saw the incident put Mel back in her now empty pen.
Then on Monday, the barn owner turned out all six of the horses back into the one pasture, leaving three pastures empty, and then left to run errands for the day. Some neighbors were out walking their dogs and saw Norman chase Mel. Mel was running at top speed, and tried to cut a sharp turn in front of Cocoa, but didn't make it. Mel collided with Cocoa and Mel's back was broken. The people walking the dogs and this point came into the pasture and called the barn owner. The barn owner then called another boarder to check on the downed horse.
This boarder was Laurie, the same one who saw the preceding day's events with Norman, and when she got there, the dog walkers had already called a local horse vet. The vet came out, talked to Mel's owner on the phone, put Mel down, and checked out Cocoa, who he says will be really sore, but is otherwise okay. We buried Mel on the property with flowers and treats and said a prayer for Cathy, her owner.
I know that this was a mistake, and a mistake that should not have cost Mel her life. I understand that it was a freak accident, but I am still upset. I feel like this could have been prevented, and all the warning signs were there. I feel like my requests for my horse not to be with mares were completely disregarded. I am very, very upset.
My real concern is for Cathy. I have so much guilt and I cannot imagine what she must be feeling. What is appropriate to do in this situation? How do we reach out to her? A card, apology, or comfort? I just don't even know.
Thanks for reading, guys.
P.S. Norman is now with no mares, and we checked out two other barns in the area.