Monday, June 21, 2010

My Hero...

I know it has been a while since I have written, and for that I apologize. Life brings with it many changes, and for me, those changes meant an absolute lack of free time. The farm has been running smoothly, the horses and all of the rescues are doing well. I just haven't had a chance to update our site.

But tonight I'm asking - no, I'm begging - for your help.

Two nights ago, our dear Faith was eating her dinner in her paddock. She seemed content and enjoying the cool breeze after what was a fairly hot day. Two hours after dark I went out to check on her and found her down on her side and lathered in sweat.

As you know, Faith has always had a difficult time getting back onto her feet. Apparently Friday night was worse. Struggling to get her hind end underneath her, she exhausted herself.

When I approached her, she turned her head to see me. My heart sank. I checked her out - no gut sounds and a heart murmur so loud I almost didn't need the stethescope. A good friend of mine turned the truck lights on so we could see her, while I ran to the barn for Banamine. It had worked each time before, so it was just the matter of three or four minutes until she jumped to her feet.

While we waited, I sponged her off to cool her down and called the vet. She was an hour away.

Five, ten, fifteen minutes passed. Nothing. A half hour. Nothing. I hooked her lead to her halter and gave her a tug. She moved her legs a bit, but didn't attempt to move. This wasn't like her at all - she had been a fighter since day one. I walked towards her head and did something I didn't want to do, but knew would work - I smacked her in the nose.

It was enough to piss her off and get her out of whatever mood she was in, yet I still felt horrible. She whipped her head up off the ground and sat upright. I pulled her front legs out in front of her as she was too weak to do so. With another smack on the butt, she lunged forward and attempted to get her hind legs underneath her. It didn't work; after a minute she began trembling, and we let her lay back down.

For the next half hour we let her rest. The vet showed up and evaluated her. Since she had been down on her right side for at least two hours, she suggested rolling her over. Two leadropes and three strong people slowly flipped her onto her left side. Faith sat up, and then stopped again. Another quick flick on the nose and she lunged to her feet, this time making it up.

She stood there trembling for a few minutes, quite shaky on her old legs. Dr. Eldredge listened to her heart and gut sounds, and sure as heck they were normal again.

We slowly brought her into the barn and into a stall. She was obviously quite sore from the ordeal, but she eagerly inhaled a grain mash and munched on her hay.

That was two days ago...

Tonight things took a bad turn. Faith is extremely weak throughout her hips, so much that she is actually walking crooked. She seems mentally aware of what is going on around her, but unable to control her hind end.

I am heartbroken.

I'm not really sure what to think at this point. It could be a neurological problem, it could be a fracture from Friday night, it could be a dislocated joint. I'm not really sure. Thankfully Dr. Barnes is coming out tomorrow around 4pm to look at her and let me know what he thinks.

I have always said that when the time comes and she is no longer comfortable, that I would do the right thing and let her pass peacefully. And I will - I made that promise to her an hour after I met her. And I know it's going to hurt just the same whether it's now or a year from now, but it's going to be so difficult to make that decision.

Of course it's pure selfishness on my part, but she's one special animal who is going to be very hard to say goodbye to. She has changed the lives of so many people, and countless other animals, just by fighting to overcome what she was put through. And for that, she's a hero. My hero.

Please keep her in your thoughts.



  1. Julie and Faith you are both in our thoughts!! Julie, we all know you will do what is right by Faith. She has had the best of the best since she has been in your care. No horse could ask for more!! She has touched many. She will never be forgotten if the fateful descision has to be made. She will tell you...Again you are both in our thoughts and hearts.

    Tammy P.

  2. I love Faith for being the beautiful mare that she is and for you giving her the dignity of a gracious life that she deserved. I know you will not make her fight another battle when her body is telling you to let her go.

  3. This made me tear up so much. She's quite the old lady, and I pray she'll pull through this. However, if things turn ill- Faith couldn't have asked for a better person to spend her last year with.

  4. I have been following Faith since Day 1... she is such a great animal. I know you will do the right thing and what is best for her! Maybe she will come out of it, you never know. If she doesn't, we all know she had the best year+ of all her years with you and your barn crew. She is truly a special horse!
    Love and Prayers to all of you.

  5. Courage, Julie.
    She trusts you. You will know what to do and when.

  6. I am so sorry. I hope she pulls through. Faith is in my thoughts.

  7. I think that you will make the right decision. Faith has endured a lot in her last years, it would be selfish to make her endure another episode of extreme discomfort. She has survived against all odds because of you and whether it hurts or not, you know you'll have to let her go someday. She has had a quality life since you came along and you owe her respect and dignity. You'll know when she wants to go, what's hard is making the decision at that moment. Be strong and Faith will be strong for you.

  8. Oh Julie, I'll hope for the best but trust you and Faith to know what "best" is. Love to you both.

  9. I agree with everyone who has posted here. We are stewards of all the animals we meet and especially those we take under our care. Faith made such a dramatic turnaround from her very beginning with you, and her gifts to you, your students, and those of us who have followed this blog have been nothing short of amazing. Those memories will be with us all forever.

    Making the decision to send her on her next journey is always so very difficult, but because you are compassionate--and a good steward--you will do what is best for Faith. She will tell you it is her time and that she wants to go. And you will listen.

    Prayers to you and everyone--especially Miss Faith--during this difficult time.

  10. Dear Julie & Faith,
    I couldn't catch my breath when I read your e-mail, just tears. I really hope she can overcome this but only you will know that answer and do what's best for FAITH.Nobody knows or loves her more than you, and all that love and care that everybody has given her is what she remembers Getting involved in Faith's story has been an unbeleivable experience and so rewarding, always waiting for the next update. For now we will all wait and keep you both in our thoughts and prayers. XX RITA

  11. Hi Julie,

    I hope Faith will be okay and I hope you don't have to make the awful decision. But, if it time, then remember:

    I'm sure you know this, but sometimes its good to hear it again. Horses don't fear death like humans do. Horses fear pain and they fear being trapped. For horses, death is a release from the fear. It's the best and kindest thing we can do for an animal that's suffering. If it is really Faith's time to move on, then you're doing the kindest thing possible by letting her go.

    You've given her an amazing final year and that's what she'll take with her. She knows that she's loved and she knows that, every morning and evening, there will be a pile of hay, grain mush, and someone to talk to her. For a horse, that is Heaven - and you gave that to her.

    Know that Faith will simply go to sleep knowing that life is good and that her friend is with her. You can do no better for her than that and that makes you an Angel.

    My thoughts are with you!

  12. Oh Julie, my heart sank when I started to read this blog.

    Faith is such an amazing girl and has overcome such odds and hopefully she can overcome this.

    If she cannot however, she will pass (goosebumps as I type this)over the rainbow bridge happy and loved by all who met her and all who were her 'internet friends' through your blog.

    I am in Australia and have been enriched by her story and your devotion to her.

    Sending prayers and e-hugs to you and our darling Faith for a speedy and relatively painless resolution (whichever way it goes).

    Thank you Faith and thank you Julie : )

  13. Julie,
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and Faith.
    I do believe horses live in "the moment." You have given Faith so many wonderful "moment" over the course of the last 16 months. Faith has trusted you from the beginning (maybe not with the meds!) she will trust you now, and I think she will let you know if this is to be her final moment.

    God Bless

  14. Julie -

    I hope Faith is resting in comfort and peace - please update us when you can.

    Friends and strangers alike are thinking of you!