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cowgirlup24 01-22-2012 12:12 AM

Apache's last ride..*warning a tad graphic*
I have been wanting to tell the story of what happened the day my beloved Apache died for a little while now. Up until now I haven't been able to recall some of what happened..Was like it was so painful my mind just blocked it out. Tonight I was thinking about it and started to remember things that I wasn't able to not long ago. I'm the type of person that feels better after getting things out on paper or typing them in the computer so I did just that a bit ago and would like to share it all with you guys since you are horse lovers yourselves. Here I go.....

June 12th, 2011

The day started out with clear blue skies and warm sunshine.I woke up with a smile and couldn't wait to go out by Apache to go for a ride. So after going out to breakfast with my husband and children I hurriedly got dressed to go riding. My husband tried convincing me to stay home,but with a quick kiss and hug I was out the door. The closer I got to the barn the more it clouded up and I got this nagging feeling that something bad was going to happen. Shaking my head I tried to dismiss the odd haunting feeling,but it just wouldn't go away....

Within a few minutes I was eagerly driving up the driveway of the ranch. Seeing Apache running up to the fence whinnying at me brought a huge smile to my face and soon as shut my car off I jumped out and jogged over to meet him. After giving his some kisses and pats I went and got his halter and brought him out to get him warmed up before our ride. As was our normal routine I brushed him down first and he stood there half asleep as I sang softly to him. With one ear towards me he lowered his head and sighed in contentment as I brushed the dirt off of him.. "Lord make me a rainbow,I'll shine down on my mother..She'll know I'm safe with you when she stnads under my colors..Oh and life ain't always what you think it ought to be..No,ain't even grey but she buries her baby..The sharp knife of a short life..Well I've had just enough time...If I die young,bury me in satin..Lay me down on a bed of roses..Sink me in the river,at dawn..Send me away with the words of a love song..The sharp knife of a short life..Well I've had just enough time...." I sang and he turned his head to softly nuzzle my arm. Dropping the brush I threw my arms around his neck and hugging him tightly I breathed in deep his wonderful horsey scent.

Looking up I noticed that it wasn't so nice and sunny anymore so I figured it would be best to get a move on so I could get some riding time in before it rained. Quickly I saddled Apache up and as I was warming him up on the lunge line the barn owner Walt came outside. Striding up to me with a big smile he asked, "Going for a ride?" to which I nodded and he replied, "Want some company?". "Sure" I said with a smile. Within no time he had his horse CoCo a big bay 4yr old gelding saddled and ready to go. Swinging into the saddle we set off down the driveway chatting about which trail we were going to take.

The ride went so well. Apache was such a good boy and despite CoCo having a couple meltdowns,he remained calm and collected helping calm CoCo. We had been riding for about 2 hours and just turned onto the loop of trail that would take us back towards home when it started raining. Tilting my face up to the sky the raindrops felt cool and refreshing washing away the dust from the trail. Feeling a rush of giddyness I nudged Apache into a canter and giggling like a goof caught up with Walt. Shaking his head he laughed and when I slowed Apache to walk beside CoCo. Riding side by side on the dirt road we rode in silence for a little while until we came to to where the trail veered off of the road and into the woods. Neither Walt nor I were aware that not far up that trail there would be a terrible accident.....

Having never been on this trail I was speechless when we stepped from the light openness of the dirt road to the dense,gloomy but yet mysterious looking woods. Reminded me of a mystical forest I had seen in a movie once. I had to remind myself to stop gawking at the surroundings and concentrate on my horse. The trail wound around trees and around areas of soupy mud. Looking ahead I saw that trail would take us up a large hill.Leaning forward I gave Aache his head and he got us to the top without a wrong step. At the top I noticed that the trail was narrow up here only wide enough for horses to go single file so Apache and I took the lead. We went a little ways when I noticed a big doe standing in the middle of the trail ahead of us. All I could think of was "ugh great! Apache is terrified of deer and here is one right in our path". Didn't take long and Apache spotted the deer.He froze and was as still as a statue staring at the doe. Clucking to him and nudging him with my heel I got him moving so as he wouldn't have time to think about freaking out.Even still he was tense and was ready to jump out of his skin. Walt saw that he was about ready to explode so he told me to walk him back the way we came out of sight of the deer so that when Walt scared the deer off he wouldn't spaz. Calmly I turned Apache and got him to walk back the way we came. With my back to Walt I didn't see what happened next...

All of a sudden I hear a shout followed by a thud of something hitting the ground. Apache jumped at the noise and started to take off down the trail. I quickly pulled one rein till his nose about touched my leg and got him stopped. I went to turn my head to see what happened when CoCo came thundering up riderless. That's all it took to spook Apache and he ripped the rein out of my hand and he took off running with CoCo as he ran by. By some miracle I held on,a helpless passenger as both horses went flying down the trail. The wind roaring in my ears I tried swallowing my terror hoping that if I was calm I could get Apache under control. Sadly that wasn't going to happen.

We had went about 30-40 yards when I noticed that CoCo was crowding Apache off of the narrow trail and right towards a tree.Everything was happening in slow motion.It was then something told me to bail off. That feeling was so strong that I swear if I looked to my left I would see someone riding next to me.. I tried to stop Apache or at least get him to move over back onto the trail but he wouldn't. With CoCo running right beside Apache my only choice was to fall backwards and pray that my leg wasn't pinned between the two horses. Before I had the chance to look up again the urge and feeling that I had to bail NOW was so overwhelming it took my breath away for a second. Without thinking I bailed.....

It felt like it took me forever to hit the ground when it was only a few seconds if that. I slammed into the ground hard and right as I hit the ground I heard a loud sickening CRACK! Rolling like a ragdoll thrown from a car I stopped and shakily tried to scramble to my feet. I stood up and turned around to find Apache laying on his side on the trail..Bright red blood running from his nose and he had his eyes closed. I lost it then. All I could do was scream, "No! Not my baby! God don't take my baby from me".. My arms outstretched towards Apache I sank to my knees and kept screaming those words over and over..... Walt came running up then and with a quick glance at Apache he grabbed ahold of my arms and stood me back up. His face full of worry he asked if I was ok but all I could do was repeat those words. Giving me a gentle shake he asked louder and more firmly if I was ok. That seemed to snap me out of my shock a bit for me to answer that nothing was broken but my back hurt really bad. Noticing then a hot liquid running down my arm I looked at my right arm and saw that a stick was sticking out by my elbow. Feeling numb I calmly pulled it out and tossed it to the ground. Cringing Walt turned away and knowing that I was ok for the most part he focused his attention on Apache.

Working quickly Walt took off his tack except for his halter and lead that I had on him underneath his bridle. Handing me the lead he said that he was going to walk down the trail a little ways and see if he could find CoCo. Patting his pockets he cursed when he found his cell phone gone. Luckily I had mine in my pocket and to my relief it wasn't damaged from my fall so when he left to go look for CoCo I called his wife Arlene for help. After I got off the phone with her I called my husband and after not getting an answer I left a short message. With that done I just stood there staring down at my handsome boy all scraped up and bleeding. I kept fluxuating between feeling completely numb one minute and then the next about to lose my mind from the terror and shock of what happened.

My heart about stopped beating when I saw that Apache was breathing funny. Every other time he would take a breath after he exhaled he would just stop breathing. I dropped to my knees and begged for God to help him and to not take him away from me. I prayed so hard that he would keep breathing that I didn't hear Walt walk up until he touched my arm. Blood was still running out of his nose and his one eye looked like it had been pushed in a bit but was now open even though he wasn't looking around. My husband called me back and after telling him the directions to where we were I hung up quickly as Walt wanted to try and moved him out of the dip in the trail. When I grabbed a hold of his front legs I felt right down to my soul that he wasn't going to make it. It had felt like I was grabbing a hold of a dead animals legs.. That feeling was so unsettling that I quickly let go and took a deep breath before I got hysterical again.

Gathering all my courage and optomisim I told myself that he was not going to die and that we would get him off the trail and to the vet as soon as possible. As time went on my back hurt more and more.I ignored the pain as best I could but wasn't able to help Walt manuver Apache out of the dip in the trail so as we stood there waiting for his wife I squatted down and softly stroked Apaches face. Tracing his blaze with my fingers I told him to keep fighting for me,that I loved him so much and he was my good boy. At the sound of my voice his ears twitched in my direction and he struggled to get up. It about broke my heart to see him struggle to get to his feet to get to me. I moved around out of the way of his front hooves and stroked his neck trying to soothe him. He stopped struggling a moment after my hand touched him and layed his head back down.

A half hour from the time we had called Walts wife went by before she was able to get to us. Arlene ran up to me and hugged me tightly before stepping back to look at Apache. Bending down she gave him some banamine hoping that it would help to alleviate some of his pain. About 3 minutes later my husband came into sight with two people that lived just up the road. Having my husband there Walt and him tried again to manuver Apache out of the dip and succeded. At this point the times where he stopped breathing were more frequent and lasted longer but the moment he heard my voice he fought so hard to get to his feet to get by me. Watching him I noticed that he wasn't using his hind legs at all. So Walt pulled out his pocket knife and poked his back legs with the tip to see if he reacted...He didn't. Arlene came to stand by me. We stood there in silence for a minute when I looked down and noticed that there was something sticking out of his chest.I looked at her and said,"It looks like his rib bone is poking out of his chest!". She shuddered and replied that there wasn't anything sticking out and its just a scrape.But I knew that it wasn't just a scrape..One of the people that had followed my husband to where we were,a woman, asked ," Should I get him some water? Do you think he would like that and drink it?"..I broke down then and collapsed to the ground.

Giving me a hug my husband told me to go to the truck and get some water and to sit down for a minute before I passed out. I kneeled down by Apache gave him a kiss and said, "I love you so very much. You are my good boy. Please don't die..Please,please don't die. Don't leave me.. Apache I love you so much." With one final caress of his soft muzzle I stood,picked up all my tack and made the agonizing mile walk to the truck. I got to the truck and threw my stuff in the back. Shaking I opened the door and sat down on the seat. I called my dad to let him know what happened and as I was talking to Todd(my 2nd dad) I saw my husband slowly walking towards the truck. My heart sank and I hung up the phone. Slowly I walked towards him praying that it wasn't what I thought and feared....

I stopped right in front of him and he held out his arms to me and just said, "Babe I am so sorry". At first it didn't register what he meant,but when it did I lost it. I screamed, "No! Not my baby..I want my baby back..He's not gone! I want him back." I cried so hard I almost got sick.I told my husband that I wanted to see him one last time and when he said no I tried to run past him but he grabbed me and just held me as I cried. I tried punching him in the ribs to get him to let me go but it didn't work. An hour after Apache struck the tree he passed away. We found out later that when he struck the tree he shattered his sternum and broke several ribs.One of his rib bones was pushed through his lung and his heart and had poked out the front of his chest.Proving that I was right when I commented on it to Arlene..

Everyone is surprised that he lived as long as he did and they think he fought as long as he could for me. I am blessed to have walked away that day without any severe physical injuries.Thinking back on it I had bailed a split second before he hit the tree head on.Scares me to think of how easily I could have died that day too.Everyday I still deal with the mental and emotional ones. I would give anything to have my best friend,partner and heart horse back..I would give anything to have the memories of that day wiped clean from my mind too. Unfortunately that can't happen. So I take some comfort in knowing he is pain free now and that he is my furry guardian angel. I miss him so much that it hurts but I know that when it's my time to go he will be waiting at the rainbow bridge for me and together will make the journey to heaven.

I apologize if I was babbling nonsense at any point in the story.Its still hard to talk about it...Thank you for letting me share...

Walkamile 01-22-2012 12:25 AM

Cowgirl, I am so very sorry for your loss. There are not adequate words to express my sympathy for you and your dear boy.

Klassic Superstar 01-22-2012 12:26 AM

Wow I am so sorry, no words can describe how sorry I am! How traumatic!
Hugs to the maximum!:-(

smrobs 01-22-2012 12:28 AM

I'm very sorry for your loss.

cowgirlup24 01-22-2012 12:34 AM

Thank you both for the hugs..they are much appreciated. Its nice to be able to tell the story and have people understand and not just automatically tell me, "Oh you should be over it already geesh! He was just an animal". Also writing it down helps get it out of my head so I'm not thinking about it as often... Not long after the accident I went and sought help.Was having nightmares,panic attacks and flash backs to name a few things.. Found out that I have PTSD from what happened. I have lived a sheltered life really up until that happened and that experience shook me to my core.. I have been seeing a counselor/therapist who specializes in dealing with people who have PTSD and that has helped a lot! So has being able to write down how I'm feeling and what happened that day. Oh crud,babbling again..sorry :(

Walkamile 01-22-2012 12:37 AM

Gracious, don't be sorry for sharing your emotions and experience. It's part of the healing process imo. And to go through such a traumatic experience , good grief, I think I'd be in a padded room!

BarrelracingArabian 01-22-2012 12:48 AM

Oh my gosh I am so sorry that happened to you and apache :( that's terrible but he will always be watching you and by your side even if not in the flesh.
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AQHA13 01-22-2012 12:55 AM

I'm very sorry for what has happened to your beloved horse. I hope that this will not deter you though, and that you will be able to continue enjoying horses as a part of your life. Hugs and well wishes

tempest 01-22-2012 01:08 AM

One of my friends found this picture somewhere. I'm so sorry about what happened to Apache. *hugs*

lubylol 01-22-2012 01:59 AM

Brought tears to my eyes! I'm so sorry for your loss.
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