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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.