Losing your beloved horse or pony is a terrible experience, these animals do everything to please us when we spend time with them, ride them, work with them, they are kind, loving and give us such enjoyment, so losing one is a heart wrenching experience.
I received a call from a girl on the yard, she was clearly very stressed and upset at what she was experiencing with my horse, she told me she thought my horse Hairy had colic, I dropped everything and drove to the yard, the date was 30th January 2013.
I remember arriving and finding Hairy stood in the field very calmly, I called the vet and when she arrived she told me his heart rate was double the rate it should be, he was in a lot of pain, he was always a stoic chap so I felt there was hope he would pull through. The vet gave him drugs and the next 8 hours were going to be crucial.
I made him up a bed in a stable and bought my mare, Ellie, in with him so they could be together, Ellie was born in the field with Hairy so they had always been together. When the vet arrived later it was apparent that things were not good, I made the decision to have him put down it was 31st January 2013, a day before my birthday. I knew this day would come but not this soon, Hairy was 20 years old, I had bought him before he was born, he had never been ill in his life and was the most fabulous little cob.
I walked him out of the stable, past my mare and he was put to sleep. I was absolutely devastated. I cried buckets. I went back in to see my mare and she was so upset as her friend had just walked out of the door and she hadn’t gone with him. The vet sedated her to calm her down. I went home and didn’t get much sleep.
I went back up the yard early, walked past my boy’s body and went to see my mare, soon after the chap came and took Hairy away. I spent more time with my mare then decided to put her back in the field, she dragged me all the way hoping her lifetime friend was in the field waiting for her. He was nowhere to be seen, he had just vanished. My biggest mistake was not letting her see his body, I so wish I could go back and allow this time for her to grieve as this has affected my mare massively. In her mind Hairy just walked out of the door and was never seen again.
As time went on Ellie calmed down but losing her best friend affected her, she became aggressive towards other horses so I could not risk putting anyone with her. It has taken a lot of time but my mare is much happier in herself now and much friendlier to her neighbours.
This experience has taught me that we need to treat horses a bit like us humans, we all need to grieve when we lose a loved one, we currently have an elderly gelding, Ludo, on our yard and we have discussed that when the time comes all the horses need to see his body so they too can grieve, hopefully this will help the other horses cope with the grief better when Ludo’s time to cross over the rainbow bridge comes.