I had planned on doing another blog post tonight, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be telling you this.
We had to have Pride euthanized today.
The day started like any other. I let Jake and Luna out of the back door, and Luna barked. Pride was just out in the hay field, he heard Luna, and trotted into the barn. The dogs were out, which meant someone was coming with his breakfast. Usually Larry feeds him. I think of Pride as Larry's horse. Pride was born to the little palamino mare that belonged to Larry when we first met. He had her bred before we were married. Larry had Fancy and Pride, and my horses were Twiggy and Red. Even though Pride was the only horse we had left, I still thought of him as Larry's.
This morning I went out first and fed Pride his soaked pellet mixture. Soy hull and beet pulp, and his senior horse pellets. He dove into it like usual. About 10:30 we headed out with the dogs for our bush walk. Pride ate the apple he expects as payment to allow us to pass by unmolested. Larry always saves a couple of slices to give him on the way back. Nothing was unusual.
Around noon, while I watched him out of the kitchen window, he did a few subtle things that weren't quite usual. He pawed the ground a few times. Normally that might be a prelude to getting down to roll, but since it was pouring rain, rolling wasn't something that would be normal. He wandered around, things just didn't seem right. He headed out to the back field and laid out on his side on the grass, in the rain. Not normal. David and Larry went out there, and then got him up and gave him a dose of Banamine. They brought him into the barn and after a bit he seemed more at ease and a bit dopey. They listened and there was lots of rumbling in his gut. Something you want to be able to hear. I left to deliver eggs to customers in White Rock, and visit my mother. I talked to Larry mid afternoon, and he said he had spent 15 minutes talking to the vet, who said to continue to observe him. A bit later Larry decided that Pride was seeming worse. He called the vet. I talked to him at 5, and he said the vet was just arriving, and he had gone out to the barn and Pride had broken through the sliding door and was somewhere out there in the rain and descending darkness. They found him on his side out in the back hay field again. With some difficulty they got him up and back down to the barn. He was examined and at some point given a pain killer. The vet conferred with another in her practice. The diagnosis was a twisted intestine. Larry asked what might have caused it. She said it was basically bad luck. A horse has a loop of unattached intestine, and perhaps gas or food or both in certain positions may have caused it. No way to sort it out without doing very expensive and difficult surgery. Not an option for an almost 32 year old horse. The decision was made to euthanize him immediately.
The next paragraph describes how a horse is euthanized. You may want to skip it.
A catheter was inserted in his jugular. The vet filled us in as to how it would go. Larry led Pride out to the driveway. That was as much as he could take, and he handed the lead rope to me. I felt I was able to be there, be strong for Larry. The first syringe was injected. The second was injected and the vet took the lead rope from me and I got out of the way. She had explained that sometimes the horse may not go down properly, although they have probably already passed on before they hit the ground. He dropped straight onto his side. I removed his halter and we covered him with a couple of tarps. A truck will come in the morning to take him away.
We were there when Pride was born in March of 1982. We had been checking Fancy for all the signs of imminent foaling. Her udder had waxed up and there was white milk. We spent the night sleeping in the barn. Nothing happened that night, so Larry called in sick to work, and stayed home the next day. I worked about 5 minutes away. Larry called me in the morning at work, labour had started and he was worried and could I come. (Not that I knew any more then he did) I was able to leave work, and things went fine and we were there when Pride was born. It was the first animal birth either of us had been present at. The vet came shortly after.
At some point I wanted to name him Expensive Hobby, as he seemed intent in racking up vet bills. Turned out that there was already a well known Quarter Horse by that name. We settled on Wyndson Hobby as his registered name, and Larry's mum suggested we call him Pride. He was the first foal either of us had experience with.
We worked with him a lot ourselves and he had a very brief career as a halter horse (judged on conformation). He was sent out for training to the owner of his sire, and I did ride him in some horse shows.
Meredith rode him her first year in 4H, but he came up with a subtle chronic lameness, and she had to switch horses. The second half of his life was spent mostly as a lawnmower. At one point we seemed to be constantly taking him to the vet (who lives not far from us, so we could easily ride him or trailer him there). He seemed to get bizarre things wrong with him, and he might not have been called Expensive Hobby, but he was determined to live up to that name. The years passed as well as our other horses, and eventually he was on his own. He seemed okay with that, but did keep up a casual aquaintance with the horses next door, one of which will turn 32 in May. His body carried his years lightly, but his teeth did not. First it was hay that he couldn't eat, and over the course of a few years, despite expensive dental treatments, most of his diet was of the mushy variety that didn't involve chewing. I was constantly asking Larry if he had made Pride's mash, as some of the pellets had to soak for a couple of hours to be completely soft, and Pride was getting fed three or four times a day.
It will take a while for us to get used to not having a horse around. I've had between one and four horses in my life for the last 42 years, and it's not much different for Larry. Even Luna will miss him, I'm sure.
Pride, may your pasture be forever green, and your teeth be good enough to chew that grass!