Will I ever get over this??(21 Posts)
I am struggling to get over the death of my horse, and I have nobody else to talk to about this. My closest friends are not horsey at all and I actually feel quite silly about this now as it has been FOUR YEARS.
For some background, I have been around/had horses all my life until 4 years ago. My last horse was a homebred mare, her mother was with us for 15 years and was a much loved family horse also. I backed and brought this mare on myself and developed a tremendous bond with her. She was simply wonderful, honest, gentle and completely accepting of everything.
I woke one morning to find her unwell, sweated-up and quivering. Within a couple of hours the vet told me it was grass sickness, there was nothing to be done, and we should PTS immediately. She was rising 5 years old. Since then I have never even ridden another horse. I moved on, left home, got married and quite deliberately I think, left horses behind.
I'm now in a position where I would like to take up riding again, and every time I walk our dogs past the local riding stables I will stop and breath in a good whiff of haylage, horse hair and manure (bizarre I know...) The problem is that I feel I have lost all my confidence and I cannot even think back to my mare without wanting to sob, I'm struggling to write this post! We have lost several over the years, and although I miss them and loved them dearly they do not have the same effect on me. It's been years, why can't I get over this? Will I ever not feel like this? I don't know if I'm scared that this might happen again.
I've never had horses but I still cry over my last dog 2 years later.
5 is quite young for a horse isn't it? Could that be why it's hit so hard?
Hopefully someone with more experience will be along soon
OP I really feel for you. I had my 5yo PTS a few months back, and I can honestly say in over 20 years of owning horses her death hit me the hardest. I hadn't even owned her a year when I lost her, so I can only imagine how hard it must be to lose a homebred baby that you've raised since day one. I do think part of the reason it hits harder is the fact that they are so young, so you're not only losing them but also the hopes and dreams you'd attached to them.
I too would have given up had it not been for already having another horse. The only thing he had in common with my girlie was his breeding, in all other respects they are polar opposites which I really think helped me with the grieving process as he never once reminded me of her.
For me it's still early days. For the most part I continue to bumble along like normal, but then out of nowhere I'll catch a whiff of something or see something that reminds me of her. Don't be too tough on yourself. I'm sure you don't need reminding, but horses are a lifestyle so it's not surprising it hits us hard when we lose them.
In your shoes I'd ease yourself back in gently, perhaps book yourself a hack somewhere lovely now the weather is nicer, or if you think that might be too much you could always book a lesson or two. I hear great things about those mechanical horse lessons too, which would free you up to focus solely on your riding without worrying what the horse is doing.
Allow yourself to cry.
I've lost a few hairy friends over the last few years and odd days hit me and I'll still cry. I have another horse and I sometimes compare him to the one who wormed a bit deeper into my geart. They're nothing alike so it makes no sense.
I'd suggest a few gentle riding lessons to get you back into the swing. Go to some local RC shows. Wander around a saddlers.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself.
I'm sorry for all your losses. It's just devastating isn't it? I would love to get back in the saddle, and a nice hack sounds lovely. I'm definitely not ready to own again, but perhaps some regular horsey contact would be good for me.
I still feel guilt. Literally one minute she was fine and the next I was watching her go. I question my decision to PTS so quickly, but I trust our vet completely and DHorse was obviously suffering. I question if there was something, anything I could have done to prevent it.
We recently lost our childhood pony too, 30+ years old, but there was a huge comfort in the fact that he had such a long happy life. It felt like we were helping him in the end. With my mare it was completely different.
I really think it was her young age and the suddenness of it that has made it worse for you, I expect you were in shock afterwards. We've lost a few lovely friends (the last only a couple of weeks ago) but they were all aged between 25 and 35 and had had long and happy lives so there was some comfort in that, and also the fact that we had a chance to prepare ourselves and choose the best time for it to happen.
Doesn't mean we don't still miss them of course, and some do worm their way in to your heart more than others. I've had current dhorse 10 years now and though I do love him, if I happen to dream about horses it is never him but my boy that I lost 15 years ago. So don't think there is anything wrong with you, us humans are funny things! However don't think you won't love another horse either because you will, even if it's in a different way. Just don't try and force anything, dip your toe in the water and see what happens!
There's always that one horse who takes a big chunk of your heart with them when they go ❤️
It sounds like you need to really grieve, the deliberately removing yourself from horses was protective at the time, but maybe you need to drag yourself back, or to somewhere significant, sob your heart out and let it all out. Getting in touch with all that pain is scary though, isn't it? (I've been there)
It's such a shame that someone who has such a connection with horses and such a longing to be close to them, is in such pain and so lacking in confidence. You can do it, baby steps
My horse died unexpectedly and shockingly last June. He was 18, homebred. I can't talk about him, I can't look at pictures or videos of him. I can't open the bag that has his tail in it. My friend has his tack at her house because I can't have it here. I can't go on my favourite walk because it was my favourite hack and takes me through the stable yard. I can hardly bear to meet up with my horsey friends. It's not getting any better.
The Arabs say that there's always a hawk and a horse that leaves a hole in your heart.
I put my gorgeous five year olds down nearly 12 years ago he was the best but most frustrating horse I've ever owned. From a farming background I'm not overly sentimental about animals but it absoltely broke me and even typing this bring emotions to the surface that I've buried deeply. I did not go near horses for 11 years and I swear I would never own one or love one like that again!.
I always think the this line from the Little Prince sums it up:
"It's the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important to you."
Poor you, OP. I agree that it's the combination of the suddenness, her age and the close bond you had from her being homebred. You're mourning all those years you didn't have. I expect also that having her helped when you lost her mother, and now you've sort of lost her mother all over again.
I remember my first ride after I had my old horse put down. The yard owner all but threw me on board one of her horses about 3 days afterwards. She knew if I didn't do it then I might not at all. The horse was very understanding and got me round. The problem was people stopping me and saying "oh, where's your horse". Cue floods of tears.
Just baby steps. You need to allow yourself to hurt, which is awful. I love the horse I have now but it is a very different relationship. Somewhere out there is another horse, looking for the right human.
5 is young, and grass sickness is horrible. I'm not surprised it's had a lasting impact on you. But it wasn't your fault - you did the right thing by her. It's awful, and sad, and not fair, but it was right. I used to work for a horse charity and we had a spate of losses to grass sickness a few years ago. Even with all the expertise, and facilities, and experience, and everything we had for them, there was nothing we could do to stop it. It's just an absolute bugger, it really is.
Why don't you start small? Maybe a day out to a show or a local rescue centre or something like that? Do some pony patting and things. Work up to a ride.
There will be another horse out there for you one day, if that's what you want. Maybe they're not born yet, or maybe they're taking their first steps. Maybe they're somewhere that's not right for them. Maybe they're even in a bad situation, waiting to be rescued and rehomed to someone like you. Eventually they'll come to you, if you decide you're ready, and your lovely girl will be watching you both.
Oh spudlet, that last sentence set me off again... I really appreciate your input as someone who has seen grass sickness. I'm ashamed to say I knew very little about it until it darkened my door.
gabilan yes, I suspect that losing DHorse was the 'end of an era' type feeling, they were both gone.
Thank you all, and again, so sorry for your losses. I think I may have just realised that 4 years is not a long time and that I may have to get used to this feeling and move on. I'm not alone, and there are so many people walking around with pain just like this. It is so cathartic to open up about this with like-minded folks.
Grass sickness is evil.
I think it's hard to get over losing a friend. The right horse will find you if you keep your eyes open.
Sorry for your loss.
I think, like others have said it's hit you so hard because she was so young and it was so sudden. Although, best decision for her as grass sickness is indeed evil. I've known one horse 'survive' it. Survive though is a loose description because the poor horse ended up having such a shit life with constant and recurrent gut problems and eventually succumbed to another colic attack. In hindsight it probably would have been better for him to be PTS in the first place. Sorry, if that's not helpful, but trying to reassure that the right decision was made for your mare at the time.
I think once you start meeting other horse's and building a bond with them this will help you to move on. I think you've got so much love to give and one day, another equally special horse will find you and you'll build up a loving trusting bond as you did with your mare. They'll be different, not a replacement but you'll find that special relationship again.
I too lost a horse that was very special about 14 years ago and vowed never to have another horse ever again.. A few months after I lost her a horse was abandoned at our yard. To cut a very long story short I ended up buying her for a £1.00 to guarantee her safety more than anything else. She was not my 'type'. I had her 10 years and knew her 12. She was the love of my life, the sweetest kindest loveliest creature who I never intended to have in my life. Sadly she went to rainbow bridge about 5 weeks ago. I'm still very sad, but grateful for the time I had with her.
I think you need to slowly start introducing yourself to some furry friends, start a few gentle hacks and I bet in a few months time you'll feel less raw about your mare. She'll never be forgotten but I believe you've space in your heart for another.
That is very helpful blodplod. I remember when I found her I was convinced it was colic (that was scary enough). The vet was very clear with me that any horse she'd ever seen 'survive' grass sickness never really recovered and was eventually PTS. As far as the spectrum of severity, her gut had completely stopped and she hadn't passed any dung the whole night, no gas or bowel sounds. It must have been excruciating for her.
I'm so sorry about your girl, you must be feeling incredibly raw
I cannot begin to thank everyone who has posted and shared their own sad stories. It has been incredibly helpful. A family friend has recently acquired a young pony to bring on for her children. I'm going volunteer for some pony cuddles, grooming and handling help and just get some contact again
It's great that you are feeling up to pony cuddles! The right horse will find you and you won't have a choice but to love him/her.
Losing any pet is an awful event, but losing a young animal suddenly can be particularly traumatic. With an old horse you see them gradually slow down and eventually you notice that they have had enough; with a youngster there is the feeling of all that lost potential.
My first pony died of grass sickness aged 7, when i was 14. It was shit.
I've not had another pony of my own since. Just worked with and ridden others.
Why don't you volunteer a couple of hours a week at that yard? Take it at your own pace.
I think your girl was the horse of a lifetime, that's why it's hit you so hard. I cry over mine still, PTS after a lot of hard work 9 years ago. I got a new one pretty soon after, who I love, but the other was my horse of a lifetime and it's not the same. I feel for you.
Hey I just thought I'd share my story to show you that things will get better. I grew up with and around horses. Me and my mum had 2 (a dartmoor I'd had since I was 5 and mum's nutty Welsh D x Arab) when I was 13 and Fred stomped into my life. I was given him on the proviso that he still lived at the (u knowledgeable) owners property. He was 6 at the time and For 4 years that horse was my absolute life. I had no friends as a teen so he was everything. When I was 17 he got laminitis (woman who owned the premises used to feed him so much crap and ignored all the warnings about lami) his pedal bone dropped and he had to be pts... I will not ever forget that day, I still have nightmares about it. I went loopy. Completely off the rails, gave away a lifetime of Horsey stuff, refused point blank to go near a horse again... Even my old pony and mum's horse. Quite frankly I went totally off the rails.
I was 24 before I felt able to go near a horse again. I went to where Fred lived (they're family friends) sat in that field with his old field mates and sobbed for a long time. I started seeing my pony who also received alot of sobbing ha.
At 25 I saw a Belgian draft advertised and felt I had to look at her, I ended up rescuing her (another story in itself!) and I believe to this day (I'm now 30) that she was sent to heal me. I got my passion back and my horses are my world. Sadly I lost her to epilepsy a couple of years after I took her on but I owe her so, so, much. I now have 6 horses, theyre all rescues, and I feel like a whole person again.
What you are feeling will get better, it will get easier. You may never be able to talk about your horse without welling up but there's nothing wrong with that. They Stomp into our lives and they leave hoof prints on our hearts. Xx
Pony cuddles are great. I have seriously missed squidgy warm noses!
Sorry for your losses
Laminitis is another awful disease. Must have been awful to witness that Our childhood pony did suffer from this, but we were very lucky and very strict with him and he made it to his 30s. Your story is really uplifting scaredycat
I think the thing that got me and still does, was that it was so needless and he was so young! He wasn't lami prone he was just fed too much for his type (ardennes x Welsh D) and soooooo much rubbish. My Dartmoor is lami prone but I manage it and he's absolutely fine.
Honestly, things will get easier for you. Promise. If you're finding yourself missing horses that's something to work on. Just take baby steps back into it if it's what's going to make you happy. No horse will ever replace the one you lost but there will be ones out there that you can have something as special with, just different. I worship the ground my horses walk on now and knowing that I've saved them From an otherwise rubbish life helps alot... And the bond that I have with all of them is incredible. Please don't give up xx
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