saying goodbye sucks

I have been putting off this post for a few days now. Mainly to wrap my head around the entire situation. And there is no easy way around it. Saying goodbye to a friend really sucks.


How can you go from being so up and excited to being so down in a matter of a few days? While I was excitedly waiting for my new saddle to come to me, something horrible happened. Ethan coliced. As soon as I saw the signs that something wasn’t right, he was looking toward his flank, he was pawing the ground, and wouldn’t eat his grain, I called my vet.

Honestly, I didn’t think a lot about it. And I wasn’t really worried because I have an awesome vet. So I thought she would come out, do an exam, give him some drugs and mineral oil and he would be fine the next day. But no, this was different.

Ethan wasn’t suffering from an impaction. No, he had a spasmodic gas colic. And I have no idea of how it happened or why.

This happened on Saturday. So Sunday morning I woke up and went out early to check on him, and I couldn’t see him from my back porch. My heart sunk.


I walked out to the barn, and called his name, but no familiar nicker asking for his morning grain. But as I got closer, I could see he was standing in the back corner of his stall.

He seemed a little more like himself, and came out to me.

The vet said I could give him half of his breakfast, and if he ate it, he would most likely be ok.

So when he began eating, I began to breathe again.

But as the day moved on, he was back to hanging his head, laying down (quietly) and not wanting to eat. So the vet came out again. Before she got their, she told me to lunge him, and get him trotting in both directions to see if we could get him to poop. He did poop, but it was like water.

And after she had given him more drugs, she did another rectal exam and said it felt like a part of his intestine was caught up on the spleenic ligament. And she wanted the other vet who had originally examined him to come out and get her thoughts.

So I brushed him, gave him lots of love, bedded down his stall again, and went inside. Throughout the night I got up to check on him, and he was still standing, and looked somewhat comfortable, so I left him alone.

Monday Morning

Getting up to check on a horse who hides from me while he is colicing scares the crap out of me. So when I went out to check on him at 5:30 AM, and finding him lying down in his pen, and not even lifting his head for me made my heart sink.

But once the lights in the barn were on, he lifted his head and stood up. So my dread was momentarily replaced with a guarded optimism. That is, until he started looking at his flanks again, and I noticed there was still no manure piles from the night.

I gave him another dose of banamine, and waited for the vet to call.

Monday Afternoon

The vet came back while I was at work. Thankfully my husband works from home, so he was home all day with him. And the 2 vets and an assistant worked with Ethan.

It was as they had suspected, and his intestine was caught on a ligament, and if we wanted to save him, he would most likely need surgery. And even then, there was no guarantee he would survive that.

We had tried everything we could to save him, short of surgery, but that is just something I couldn’t do. I loved Ethan, but I don’t have $15,000.00 for surgery and care afterward. So I made the decision it was time to end his suffering.

I felt like I signed his death warrant.

Monday Evening

I rushed home from work, and cried, a lot while I groomed him. I didn’t want him dying with flies on him. So I coated him in fly spray, and spent the next 90 minutes grooming him. Then we did what he wanted to do. We walked around his pasture, we went to the fence line so he could see his neighbor friends, and then I took off his halter, and we played a game of Ethan got away (one of his favorite games). And then I just held his head in my arms, and I stroked him as I told him how much I loved him, and how sorry I was.

saying goodbye sucks

He just rested his head against mine and let me brush him, and we waited for the vet to come again for the last time.

I didn’t stay and watch, I couldn’t. I’ve seen how horrific it is when a horse is euthanized. I wanted to be there for him, but I just couldn’t watch that. I wanted my last memories of him to be while he was standing, and alive.

Trying To Move One

And then he was gone. My vet had made arrangements for him to be taken away. And about an hour later, I went back out to the barn, and closed the gate.

saying goodbye sucks

It’s been a week since this all started, and I have glimmers of hope now and then, but it’s still hard to put together he is gone. Like I have just lived through a very bad horror movie, but it wasn’t a movie, it was real.

I finally cleaned up my tack room, and put away everything in the first aid kit. I filled hay nets for Frisby, and have made a point to take Frisby out every day since Ethan has been gone. It wasn’t easy for him either. The first night he called out for his friend all night long.

I haven’t taken his name plate off of his stall yet, maybe I will do that this weekend. I don’t know. But slowly, life is getting more normal.

The farrier is coming next week. I haven’t told him there is only one horse to trim yet.

And I don’t know how much hay we should buy when we go out today. Should I get my regular order of 10 bales? Or should I get less, because I only have one horse to feed now?

I feel like a horrible horse mom to let something like this happen. I keep replaying the events in my head, wondering if I did something to cause this to happen. I mean I only had him for 3 years, and then because of me he colics?

saying good bye sucks

But I do know that reliving this won’t bring him back. I can’t change what has happened. What I can do is focus on the good, and focus on Frisby. He needs me right now just as much as I need him.

saying good bye sucks

So maybe we will go out on the trail for a ride later today. Life does go on, and I do have extra time now to work with Frisby. I will just take it one day at a time. And focus on the good I do have. One day at a time.


I am horse crazy and love DIY projects, and finding great deals on everything horse related. When I have a new idea, or find a great deal I love sharing this information with you.

    17 replies to "Saying Goodbye Sucks"

    • Maggie Bradshaw

      Reading thru my tears, dear Lisa, what a heartbreaking situation. I am so sorry for your loss of your Ethan. I hope you will find comfort in your memories. Saying prayers for you.

      • Lisa

        Thank you so much Maggie

    • Corinne

      Hello Lisa,
      I am so sorry for your loss,… and am moved to tears in reading this story.

      If you believe in the “rainbow bridge”, perhaps there is comfort in the belief of a temporary “good-bye”. Otherwise, hopefully you find comfort with the passage of time and with the memories of your time together. Your story is also a message to us, to cherish the time that we have with our loved ones.

      Warmest Regards,

      • Lisa

        Hi Corinne,
        Thank you so much for your thoughts. I do believe that one day, I will see Ethan again, and that this good bye is temporary. Even though the time I had with Ethan was short, compared to the past 14 years, he made an impression and I will cherish the memories I have of him 🙂

    • Kim

      I’m so sorry for your loss. In March, my mare broke her leg in a fluke accident in her pasture and had to be euthanized. It’s was awful so I know your heartbreak. Take your time to heal and mourn your loss. Our gelding didn’t understand either and screamed out for his friend. If you need a friend for Frisby you might want to check with your vet to see if they know of a group where you can foster a horse. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

      • Lisa

        Thank you so much Kim.

    • Rebecca Crow

      I am so sorry you lost your Ethan. I am about to publish a book on this. Would you like a free copy of it? Praying for you and your broken heart and Frisby too.

      • Lisa

        Thank you so much Rebecca. You wrote a book? That is so awesome 🙂 I would love to read it! I will send you an email 🙂

    • Kayla

      I am so sorry. My first horse has this same situation happen when I was 9 years old. I had rode her 15 mile trail ride the day before and she had been great, but the next day she had the same diagnosis as your beloved Ethan. I was devastated and thought I had caused it. My vet says that it just happened because when she rolled it just happened. Nothing anyone could do, and I am sure this could have been the case for Ethan as well. I hope this helps you in some way and focusing on the good is the best thing you could do. I did not heal until I finally bought a new horse that was young and totally different and this helped me to move on and to grow in my riding as well. Now I can look back with love and admiration at my first horse and be thankful for our time together!

      • Lisa

        Thank you so much Kayla

    • Kirstine

      I’m very sorry for your loss.

      • Lisa

        Thank you Kirstine 🙂

    • Christi

      You are Awesome,Courageous, with a Love embracing your Core. Without doubt, Ethan held the same attributes. It is simply a Blessing to have these magnificent creatures accept our invitation of love. An extraordinary miracle, as trust forms, and the spiritual journey of partnership begins. Ethan, was very aware of your fear, and your love. I believe he was at peace with your decision, finding only serenity in contributions you both made to one another’s lives. He’s ok!

      Faced with making the same decision twice, I remain amazed at words often heard “What a Blessing to give and receive”. Words, which contribute to the various fabrics of my being. Words, I completely understand.

      Blessings 2 U
      Ran into your blog after searching for DIY tips. Many Thanks…I am now a follower.


      • Lisa

        Thank you so much for your kind words Christi

    • Amanda

      So sorry for your loss, Lisa! I got so teary eyed reading your blogged….so sad! Seven years ago my dream horse, Leggs was standing under a tree during a thunderstorm. Lightening struck the tree and killed him instantly along with three other horses. It broke my heart! I still to this day think about him often and have pictures of him hanging up all in my house. He was the best horse I had ever had in my life. I miss my best friend! Sorry for losing Ethan but I know you will think about him often!

      • Lisa

        Thank you Amanda. So sad when they are taken away from us 🙁

    • Judy Laurence

      Dear Lisa, I’ve been so busy with work and mixing in at least some time for “horsin’ around,” that I just read your beautiful memorial of Ethan along with your total heartbreak. Having had to put four of my best friends down in the past 50 years, I can confidently tell you that you will heal, just let your feelings take their course, and then the warmth of your memories with Ethan will fill you. Keep up the faith, for horses are in heaven – after all, it’s in the Bible that at the end of the world Jesus will come down from Heaven in a chariot pulled by horses. And if you ever have a chance to watch “Heaven Is For Real,” probably still available on Amazon if you can’t find it, it is based on a true story of Colton Burpo, who had a near death experience, and as he was talking to his dad later on he said “Jesus has a horse.” So don’t rush it but relish your memories, which will come, enjoy your time with Frisby and any other critters who come into your life, along with your 2-legged loves, and be at peace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.