Tuesday, September 14, 2010

On the Loss of my Beloved Mare


Time finally caught up, I thought we could beat the odds. I really did, because we always have. I was wrong this time. Charisma colicked again. She had another "episode" on the morning of September 1st, a Wednesday, but she was fine when I left at 3:30, just like all the other episodes. She ate her supper and was fine at night check. Thursday morning the barn manager found her, she was already in shock. It was too late. The vet came, he didn't want to take her to surgery. He talked to Dr. Schur in Las Vegas, her surgeon, gave her the details, and they both said it would not likely go well. I had told myself I would not put her through a second surgery, but I think I needed to hear it from them too, because my heart was not willing to face this. We had to set her free. Dow, and BJ were there, we held her, and, Frisco and her friends Casper and Blue stood quietly by. She rests at Ironhill, Priddis, Alberta. "Devastated" does not do justice to the loss we feel.
I need animals in my life, I think they make us more human. Losing them, knowing full well that we will outlive them, and still being willing to give our hearts to them, I've never known another way of being. It's too easy to avoid the pain. How shallow would that make me? Deep down, I knew this was coming, she has never been right since the surgery. On her good days, and it was mostly good days, she was better than she ever had been before. We had our best show season ever, and aside from that, we both cherished our time together. But on her bad days, it was clear that all was not well. Selfishly, I am angry, and feel cheated, that my self-perceived dedication and devotion could not have garnered me even more time. But I must be thankful for the time I got, I can't become bitter for having tried, and yet ultimately failing. I have some guilt that I could maybe have made different decisions. I don't think I could have done MORE, just, maybe, different. Hindsight is 20-20. Any decisions I made were because I thought at the time with the information I had that it was the right decision, that much I do know. All I can do is learn all there is to learn from this lesson. I realize that if I only have 14 more years with Frisco, if he only lives to 16 like his mother, or God forbid, less, I for certain must set about now to assure that my horse leads the happiest life possible. I've learned so much about diet, nutrition, and equine management in the past year. I can't forget these lessons. Even if I never own another horse, and it's possible that I won't, I can apply all this knowledge to the one horse I do still own, and my clients' horses, to make him, and them, the happiest, healthiest equine athletes he, and they, can be.
I am trying to figure out why I feel compelled to ride them, that maybe Charisma would have been happiest had I not brought her back as a riding horse, if I'd just turned her out to pasture instead she maybe would have lived. Logically, I know this would not have saved her, but, I can't help this guilt I feel. I think I must want to be one with them, to be a part of them, not just brush them and admire them, sort of like some people need to climb the mountains rather than just sit on the deck and enjoy the view of them. The universe surely had to know, I was not one to just be a horse owner, when it sent me Charisma. I will have to make certain Frisco retains the wonder and intrigue for being ridden that he has now. The discipline of dressage is unique in that the whole purpose and aim of the riding is to develop a longterm, close partnership with your horse, to develop a system of communication that involves no words, only a highly sophisticated sequence of physical indicators, so minute that they are invisible to a bystander. To lose a dressage horse is to lose years upon years of study, practice, and education...it is an irreplacable partnership. My horses have always been members of the family, so I have not only lost a family member, but a highly educated dance partner. The years it will take to establish this same level of communication with Charisma's son is a bit daunting at the moment.
When I walked through the woods with BJ and Charisma after my dog India(BJ's mother) died, I believe she visited us, in the form of a beautiful waxwing, who followed us from branch to branch. I've never seen a waxwing travel by itself, before, or since. When my grandfather died, I saw a raven circling inside a double sundog. I've never seen that before, or since. I know Charisma will visit me once more. In fact, I do not believe she is done here, I am sure she will be back.
This will make me a better, deeper, more spiritual person, I am sure of it. I can't believe I married the one person in the world who loves animals as much as I do, in the same way. Many spouses would be kind and supportive, but, how many would shed every tear with you? Share every emotion, from fear, guilt, anger, denial, to the good emotions, the good memories? We all were meant to be together...we are a chain of souls meant to link up. The links break but we will always be bound, and will keep looking for each other. I believe we have been together before, and will be again, all of us. I must believe this. I don't think I can cope with the loss without this hope.