This is a very hard post to write.
I am out of practice firstly, I haven’t written in a while. I couldn’t write, even though I sat in front of my computer often, staring at the screen and trying to dig inside myself to cement some words to paper. I failed, constantly.
Because I have a soul full of broken glass and it hurts.
The explanation for this is simple. My horse died. It wasn’t expected, it wasn’t calmly and it certainly wasn’t pretty. My life was torn apart in a matter of forty eight hours by a situation that was unavoidable. Death was a mercy certainly, a sentence pronounced by myself.
But it wasn’t what I had wanted for him and it certainly wasn’t what I could deal with right now.
But, that is the nature of life. Of trials and challenges. We are never prepared for anything. We think we are, but we’re not. The morning I went to say good bye to him, my riding companions had joined me. It was early, before work and we had stood there in a group around him. The others had been crying, but tried to comfort me. I hadn’t cried, simply stood there and held them.
“It’s okay,” I had told my friend as we hugged. “It’s okay.” Behind us, my horse had stood twitching, his muscles convulsing at the point of seizure. He was affected by a virus that caused West Nile Disease. And, it’s really not very common in South Africa. A vaccine had only come available a year or two ago and we had not thought that the disease was in our area. Yet, we were wrong. And, it was a costly mistake.
The disease is a disaster, affecting the horse’s nervous system, destroying it – leading to seizures, disorientation and convulsions. It came upon us suddenly. I was called the Monday evening but a slightly hysterical and freaked out stable yard manager.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” she told me as she described how my horse had broken out of his stable, out of the camp in front of it and ended up in her back garden. “I tried to hold him but I couldn’t. He wouldn’t calm down, couldn’t stand still. I tried to hold him but I couldn’t.”
Which was understandable, he weighs 400kgs, nearly half a ton. One can hardly keep control of a 80kg man having a seizure, keeping control of a horse that is constantly falling around, thrashing and throwing himself at walls, is impossible. I went there, looked at him. Called the vet. But I knew that it was a problem.
He settled for most of the day, giving us a sense of false hope. Maybe it had been a fit, maybe it had been a one occurrence. Maybe I wouldn’t have to kill him before he either killed himself or someone else.
It wasn’t to be of course, it wouldn’t be because that is not how these things worked. He had another episode that evening and for all their attempts to keep him safe, he ended up in an area of the yard were they kept scrap metal. He broke into that area, fell down there, and tore himself to shreds. I rushed over when they called me again but even as I was driving I told the owner of the yard to call the vet.
It was over, I knew it was.
Death was a mercy and the last act of love that I could give to him.
And, as I told my friends, it was okay. I could accept it. I could accept that there was no other option. But it doesn’t take the hurt away, it doesn’t take the sense away that I will never be complete again.
You see, I know that it’s just an animal. But Sebastian had been special, from the beginning, he had been mine. I am a very strong T on the Meyers and Briggs scale and live a full INTJ life. But, in my horses, in this horse, my Feeling side had resided. My emotions and my security. Horses had always given me something that humans somehow never could. It’s not something that can be put to words. It’s just something that has always been. Even my partner had remarked a couple of times that I would never be made to choose between my horses and my relationship because it was a battle that no person could win. Does it make me defective? Probably, but I am in a fortunate position to have an Other Half that doesn’t care about it and loves me anyway.
I know there will be other horses. I still have one, a young gelding I put under the saddle myself that I had thought I was raising for a friend of mine. I had never thought that he would be a replacement. And he can’t be. No other horse will be. My friend who lost her golden stallion a couple of years ago sat with me over the weekend and said quietly that it never stops. The hurt and the longing to have that one last ride on that special horse. That one that took one’s soul and broke it upon death. You just learn to make the pain a part of yourself, a part of the pleasure of riding. She’s had had almost four horses since Rico’s death and none of them had matched his place in her heart.
It is a bitter pill to swallow and so ironic that I had waited a whole year for him to recover from his injured leg only to have him ripped away from me in such a manner.
So, I have a soul full of broken glass. I have a soul that is constantly cutting me, a well of emotions that slices through me every time I try to feel anything. I am mourning, I know that. And, I will give myself time to do so. The only good thing about the pain is that it means that Basjan really meant something.
That he was important in a reality I’m constantly trying to escape through gaming and writing.
That he was real.
I’m so sorry you’ve lost your friend. Thank you for sharing.
My horse died before Christmas, and even though it hasn’t been long it feels like I haven’t seen him in forever. What you wrote is beautiful and is just how it is, I wish I could tell you it gets better, but honestly it hasn’t happened to me yet. I’ve started noticing the small things about him that I miss, the ridges on his hooves, the fact that I will never detangle his ridiculously thick mane again, his tiny muzzle which would hoover up anything in sight, his summer coat, and just being with him. I don’t know how many horses you’ve had before but he was my first pony, and you never have another first pony…
Just as someone told me- I’ve lost a friend.
And even though he means so much more to me than just a friend, for some reason those words stick in my mind, i’ve lost my friend and i’m never going to get him back.
Stay strong, he’s having a great time up there xxx
I don’t think there is such a thing as “just an animal”. There was a living being that you invested your heart and soul into. The loss of such a thing is devastating and crushing and lingering, but never unjustified, because it was never really “just an animal”. It’s quite obvious that he was much more than that to you.
As meaningless as it may be from a stranger over the internet, I truly am sorry for your loss.
It’s one of the most difficult experiences to lose a horse that you love so much. They all take a part of you with them, but as you said, there is just that one, that one you always want when you need them, but they’re not there.
I lost my Chicks back in 2013 after he choked on his morning feed. They couldn’t save him. It took me two years before I was able to talk about him without bursting into tears, to think about him without wanting to curl up into a ball and cry my eyes out.
I remember the good things about him, his kind and calm nature, his endless patience, his love for food. But I also haven’t been able to go riding since then, and I struggle to bond with other horses, I just don’t want to become too attached. It’s been the most difficult journey, and it doesn’t get any easier, as you’ll always miss that one horse, you’ll see a scenario or an ideal trail, and you’ll wish for that one horse. ❤