Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Larger Than Life

I'm truly awestruck by the outpouring of condolences and love that Spider has received. I knew he was special to me, but I had no idea how many other lives he had touched. He was truly larger than life, and his absence is keenly felt on our little farm.

This was his farm, the rest of us just lived here to cater to him. He always called to me every morning when I walked out to the barn, even the morning he died. The hardest walk I've ever made was this morning's walk to the barn without his friendly greeting. 

We're still not sure exactly what happened, I didn't have a necropsy done. On Sunday afternoon I found him lying flat out in the pasture. I got him up, gave him banamine and called the vet. He laid down again in the grass next to the arena, and since he wasn't rolling or thrashing I let him stay there. He was down nearly an hour, until just before the vet arrived. 

I sat with him until the vet arrived.


The vet examined him, found a high heart rate and a grade 4 heart murmur, distension in his small intestine, but no torsion. We treated it as a colic, and decided to reevaluate the heart murmur when he recovered (the murmur had not been present at his checkup in April). He was up and moving around, and seemed to be doing better. 

The next morning while I was checking on him his gums and tongue started to turn blue, so I called the vet to come out again. While I was on the phone with her, he suddenly convulsed, then collapsed. He died with his head in my lap less than a minute later. 

The vet thinks his heart probably failed, but without a necropsy there's no way to tell. It was over quickly, less than 24 hours between the start of symptoms and his death. 

He was never sick a day in his life, until the end. He was still in active work until the day before he died. Sometimes I feel guilty, thinking maybe I should have retired him and then maybe his heart wouldn't have failed, but Spider wasn't a horse that would "retire". He loved to work, and certainly never showed any problems with stamina or energy. 

I know there will be other horses, but there was only one Spider. I told Jack today that it's a good thing he's so big, because he has huge shoes to fill. 













21 comments:

  1. I lost my PJ to a heart attack. He had a murmur when he was younger that turned into atrial fibrulation--erratic heartbeat. My vet told me he would just go quickly one day, and indeed, he did. I wish I had been there to hold his head, but it happened in the middle of the night.

    I know the pain you are going through, but it was a blessing you were there for Spider right up until the end. I am sure, though, if he could, he would have comforted you as well. Horses know, and accept the end of life much better than we do. His spirit will stay with you while you grieve, and when the time comes, your ache will ease.

    Trust the love you had for him and the great gift you gave him by being his person. He was treasured and he knew it. What a lucky person you were to have him in your life.

    Sending my love and understanding from afar.

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  2. Oh Shannon, I'm so sorry. Spider was such a cool horse, and you guys were such a team.

    You can't beat yourself up about not retiring him. I'm sure he'd have told you he was happy to be doing things with you until his last moment. I have one of those "unretireable" ones, too. I think the responsibility of keeping us in line keeps them young. <3

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  3. I'm just so sorry for your loss. Tho I hope there is some solace in being able to spend those last moments close together. He was a very special horse :(

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  4. I'm glad you were able to be there with him at the end, even though it may have been hard. I'm also glad he was in good health right up until the end. These heart things can be very sudden, and I don't think continuing to ride him made any difference.

    You two had a special partnership, and that's not gone - it lives on, and will affect how you interact with every horse you encounter. That's his gift to you.

    I'm glad you had him and he had you.

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  5. I don't believe that he would have wanted to be retired. You know I lost Mikey to an aortic aneurysm, after having done hock surgery to make him sound again. After he died, I beat myself up for continuing to work him after he recovered from surgery. Don't go down that route - I'm sure he was happier being worked.

    I'm so glad you were able to be there in the end for him. I bet he was glad to have you too, in life and at the end.

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  7. I'm so sorry. I feel like its been hard year for horses. He was a hard worker, you kept him fit and happy I'm sure if he had shown he wanted to retire you would have. Don't doubt yourself, you did right by him and he got to pass away with you right there for comfort.

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  8. I'm glad that you with him. That photo touched me very much- it shows the love that you had for each other. I don't believe that retiring him would have been the answer or made a difference in the outcome. I know that you balanced his workload and it's far healthier for horses to keep going.

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  9. I'm sure that must have been a very, very emotional experience but I'm glad you got to be with him at the end. I'm sure that was a comfort. You were the best owner a horse could have. I'm sure Spider enjoyed every second of his time with you as his best friend.

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  10. Being there at the end (if at all possible) is one of the best gifts we can give our animal partners. I've done it for multiple dogs and cats, and only recently for a horse. Heartbreaking for us, but so comforting for them. I'm a newer follower to your blog but your love for Spider and your partnership was immediately evident and my heart breaks for your loss.

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  11. My heart breaks for you. I gasped and burst into tears when I saw the news on FB. I am glad it was over quickly, but so sorry that you lost him so unexpectedly. The fact that he worked and was full of vigor and energy right up until the end is a testament to your good horse ownership. He couldn't have asked for a better life.

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  12. Glad you were with him at the end, even though it must have been super hard.

    Another heartbreaking reminder to treasure every day we have with our equine partners...



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  13. So very, very sorry that you had to go through this. That is almost exactly how my Appaloosa mare passed away. It was horrifying and heartbreaking. Big hugs to you!

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  14. Oh, I'm so sorry. I'm glad it was over so quickly for him, but it must be so hard for you. He was a good boy.

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  15. Oh Shannon, I am so sorry. I can't imagine. Don't second guess any of your decisions with him. He had a wonderful life. I bet he doesn't regret one day of working with you and having you as his human. I'm glad you were with him, despite how brutal those moments must have been for you.

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  16. I am so sorry for your loss. What a horse.

    Do not regret a moment that you spent together. Retirement is not for horses like Spider. He loved to ride and you took him on so many adventures right up until the end of his life. He lived a very full life indeed. He will be missed.

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  17. If it was Spider's heart (and I agree with that guess), then the work you did with him only served to strengthen his heart. You probably helped him live longer (and definitely happier) than he would have, had he been fully retired.

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  18. You guys were a constant inspiration to me. He was too old and too fried and too thoroughbred and yet the two of you together were amazing. I admire your sense of humor even in the hard times and I'll miss the Spider stories. So glad you were there for him at the end.

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  19. There are no words. I am just so sorry. It was obvious how much he adored you, and how much you loved him.

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  20. I'm so very sorry. There is no easy way to lose a horse, my heart is with you.

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  21. I just found your blog and reading this breaks my heart. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. I know those words dont mean much but do not blame yourself...you two clearly had a great relationship and you are a great horse mom.

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