Warm Hearts and Healing Hands Try to Save Another
He came to us because our vet asked us to pick him up. Nothing unusual about the call – a horse down, unable to rise. We’re used to those calls, and the ranch crew responded quickly and with practiced perfection. In a short time the horse, a young gelding, was on the Emergency Glide at the barn as the crew started hooking him up to the Anderson Sling.
This time the horse didn’t do what we’ve come to expect. There was no effort to move his back legs, very little movement on the front. The vet decided that it would be best to put him in the stall. The horse made several feeble attempts to sit up, but the strength wasn’t there. Doc hooked up the IV’s, we doctored his scrapes and one of the volunteers held his head up as he drank a little water and munched on hay. That didn’t last long. Too weak, he stretched out and went to sleep.
There was a brief period of time that we thought things were getting better. With a hay bale supporting him, he spent the better part of the next day munching hay and interacting with his visitors, and the visitors became his friends. They stayed and held his head, washed him down, helped turn him over, replacing the soiled shavings and kept his water and hay close so he didn’t go without.
The stories from those who “owned” him kept changing. One person said he’d been down for 10 days, another said it just happened, that he tripped while running. One of them mumbled something about another vet having done something, but when questioned, it became very difficult for them to understand the English language. Needless to say, our vet was not only frustrated from not getting the true story, but also from the lack of response the horse was giving to all our efforts.
He went downhill pretty fast. While his eyes followed everyone and on occasion he’d weakly lift his head, there were no more efforts to sit up. Another attempt in the sling proved futile. He was moved back to the stall and made comfortable. By now, we pretty much know where this was going.
And that’s when the tears started. One volunteer spent the entire day with him, cleaning and talking, holding and hoping. The office staff came, the ranch crew spent more time with him. His body was failing, we all saw that. A young, beautiful horse – and nothing we did would bring him back. The force of life simply drained away.
It happened quickly. One moment he was awake, the next moment there was no heartbeat. The spirit, the soul, simply floated away, leaving a swollen, scraped up body, a few flakes of uneaten hay, a carrot that he never tasted, and the tears of those who stood by him through the end.
We knew him for three days. We knew a spirit that struggled for life. We touched and whispered and held and prayed and in the end we watched him fly away. Perhaps for those final hours he knew about human compassion, felt the depth of human love. I can only hope that it was so.
Habitat for Horses, Inc.
PO Box 213
Hitchcock, TX 77563