Monday, August 16, 2010

Goodbye is Never Easy

It is with tears in my eyes that I write this post.

As many of you know, the past month has been difficult for Faith. A few weeks back, she laid down in her paddock as she always did, soaking up the sun. However this time would not be the same as usual. She struggled to get up, but could not make it to her feet. Unbeknownst to us as the time, she had snapped the ligament in her left hip. She was down for three hours until the vets and five adults helped her to her feet. But she made it. She always pulled through.

We quickly learned of her injury, and at that time, I was contemplating saying goodbye to her. A horse of her age would not recover from that sort of injury, but my vet insisted to give her a week. Even though I doubted him greatly, I knew that if anyone could pull through, Faith could.

The next week was filled with oral medicine every 8 hours, and a big mare learning how to rebalance her hind end. As sure as heck, the old lady pulled through. Once again, I was amazed.

However, the last few weeks have been difficult. Each time Faith laid down she would need assistance getting back to her feet. And each time her hip became worse. She was just too old and too weak to be able to do it on her own any more. But I always gave her that one last try. At all hours of the day and night we helped her, rolling her over and encouraging her to her feet, at least a half dozen times. And each time she eventually made it to her feet.

Last Saturday morning I woke up early to go to a horse show. I looked outside my bedroom window and Faith was laying down in her paddock. My heart sunk. I rushed out to see her and it was clear that she was tired. She had done enough and it wasn't fair to her. It wasn't safe for the people around her. It was time.

Dr. George came out for one final visit. She laid there, with a full belly and surrounded by people who loved her. Then she closed her eyes and went to sleep one last time. Everyone was emotional, including the vet who had worked so hard for her over the past 18 months.

I drove to the show, holding back tears from my students. They would be competing all weekend and I didn't want to ruin their fun and excitement. They didn't need to know what had happened at that point. I did my best to hide my devastation. When we returned from the show a few days later, they learned of the news and broke down. Then one by one they wrapped their arms around me and thanked me for saving her and loving her. It meant so much.

I can't remember who it was, but someone had posted a while back that horses aren't afraid of death like we are, they are afraid of pain and fear. That quote helped me get through this, so whoever said that, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

To my dearest Faith: Eighteen months with you went by too quickly, but the memories we shared will last forever. You were loved by many, and loved us back in your own special way. You touched the lives of countless people and animals, and for that I thank you. However your work is not yet done. Your story will continue to educate and help others. I love you very much, and I miss you even more. Rest peacefully, my dearest Faith.

Faith - May 16, 1982 - August 7, 2010