My Heart


As we pulled the small hill leading up to our homestead from the main road I saw him there.  He is a spectacular piece of artwork that has always taken my breath away.  At over 16 hands he is magnificent with his red neck and legs, the white of his rump shines as bright as the sun.  His long legs and neck seem to push him above the landscape and today he caught my eye in a way he hasn’t before. 

He was standing at the back gate.  A relaxed stance with his face off toward the back pasture that he is forbidden from entering.  At first I assumed that he was just longingly wishing that someone would open the gate and let him partake in the smorgasbord of field grass and noxious weeds.  As we drew nearer to the paddock I began to feel a strong sense of uneasiness overtake me.

You see, I have had this strange connection to Cash since the first moment I laid eyes on him and I can feel it in my heart that he is just as connected to me as I am to him.  I know what this feeling is and I know it isn’t good.  A little over a year ago he took a jaunt into that back pasture and got tangled in barbed wire.  It caused life threatening wire cuts and it was the first time since I had owned him that I could feel his pain.  

The last year has not been easy on either of us.  Each infection started with a feeling, a feeling that something wasn’t quite right.  Each time the vet confirmed that the infection had come back and that with it was less of a chance that he would survive his injuries.  In the beginning I was willing to do absolutely anything to save my boy.  Ultimately, it was not in my hands and only time would tell if he was to make it.
Today, that same feeling came over me and my heart just sunk.  It has been a year, there is nothing anyone can do and I know he isn’t right.  I said his name a couple times and he just kept looking off into the back field.  As I approached him he turned his head for a second to say hi and then back to his original position.

I could feel a lump in my throat as I continued toward him while still saying his name.  When I got about 20 feet away he lowered his head and struggled to turn toward me.  The well broke…the tears wouldn’t stop.  As he struggled to walk toward me all I could do was cry.  Until recently he was doing so well, hardly a limp and now he is struggling to walk.

“You have to tell me when you’ve had enough” I struggled through my tears.  “I can’t bear to say goodbye, but I don’t want you in pain”. The tears wouldn’t stop, the pain in my souls was just unspeakable.  He walked up, put his nose in my face and just breathed.  It was not the kind of “I’m ok, just having a bad day” kind of breath.  It was a “I don’t know how much more fight I have” kind of breath.

I grabbed his front leg and burried my wet face in his shoulder and sobbed.  Mocha, his pasture mate was in the other paddock and she quietly nickered in our direction.  She did not come through the gate, she kept her distance so that we could have a moment.

As I stood there face burried in his shoulder, tears rolling down my cheeks he reached his big head around and nuzzled my leg.  It felt as though he was asking me to fix something I can’t fix.  The only way I can take his pain away is to end his life.

What a horrible place to be.  I just want him to be happy and comfortable and I am completely unable to do anything for him.  How do I decide that he has had enough? Will there always be a nagging feeling that I did it too soon?  How come a year later we are having a potentially life ending back slide?

My heart is torn in a million pieces.  He isn’t just a horse, he is my heart.  I have loved every horse I have ever been blessed to have in my life, but Cash is special.  How do you even reconcile what is best for him with knowing that once he is gone he will take a piece of your heart with him?

I still have no idea what the future holds for Cash.  I do not know if I will be strong enough to make that decision.  Just the thought tears me into a million tiny pieces.  

I pray for both Cash and me.  I pray that he live to a ripe old age sound and happy, and if God doesn’t see fit to grant me that prayer…then I pray that he will give me the strength to do what is best for my big wonky boy and that he is the first to greet me when I get through the pearly gates. 

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5 thoughts on “My Heart

  1. I am so sad for you and Cash. This is the most terrible decision a loving owner can make about their loved one. I recently lost my Jack to heaves, dsld and the effects of dexamethasone. I prayed each day that I would not have to make the decision to end his life and each night that I went to the barn to give the last night’s bit of hay I would tell him I loved him. The point I am trying to make, is that one morning I went out to the barn and Jack has passed in his sleep with apparently peacefully. Keep Chase close to your heart, take each day as it comes and you will know what to do when the time comes. Chase is depending on you to make the right decision and trusts that you love him and will keep him safe. You both are in my heart and prayers. I know how hard this is for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope he pulls through. We are currently going through a similar situation with my 16+ hand Appaloosa mare. She is absolutely stunning, but a couple months ago she cut her hind leg in the pasture (we don’t know how she did it) she severed everything down to the bone including the tendon. We don’t know if she will ever be sound again. We are also debating what is best for her. We were planning to breed her and had her 5-panel tested this past spring only to find that she is PSSM positive. She has episodes that we didn’t know were related to PSSM previous to her genetic results coming back. We haven’t been able to do a lot of riding with her because when she gets sore, it turns out badly. It’s so hard because she is so sweet on the ground. All we can do is Hope.
    We also recently lost my show gelding due to old age (he was 27). I feel like you just know when it’s time to make that decision. It’s hard to explain, but when I saw him struggling to get up and just laying there, I knew it was his time to run free from pain and suffering.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I recently lost my dog…he was sick for awhile and I was in the same place you are. I kept wondering when to let him go…one person said …you will know when it is time…and I did. He reached a point I knew he was having more bad hours than ok hours. I just KNEW it was time. I slept with him on my chest all night and in the morning I said goodbye to my sweet Chevy. You will know. ..just hold on until he tells you he doesn’t want to try any more. Hugs to you…it is such a sad journey to say good bye

    Liked by 1 person

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