Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Sky Weeps for Mikey

Today it rained hard almost all day, with temperatures in the upper 50s.  The horses were out for quite a while, but the mares got cold (even Dawn, who was wearing her rain sheet, was chilled and shaking) from the soaking rain, and the barn owner brought them in before 11 a.m.  At noon, she started bringing the geldings in too.

The gelding herd - Pie and Red are in this herd - is by and large a young, active herd of horses - there is lots of running and playing.   They were milling around near the gate, with some running and sliding in the mud.  The barn owner was out with them, and somehow in the commotion a gelding named Mikey fractured his right front leg - I don't know if it was an accidental kick from all the high spirits, or if he slipped and twisted his leg or if another horse ran into him.  Mikey was 22, although he looked much older than that - he wasn't that sound, no one ever rode him and I'd have guessed he was closer to 30.  Mikey was a very sweet horse, and would always come up and greet me when I was out in the pasture.

Since she was there, the barn owner was able to hold him still - he was still standing - until the vet came - quickly, which was a blessing - to euthanize him.  Others brought the geldings in.  I got there after all the other horses were in and she was out there with him and the vet.  When I came to the barn, and went into the aisle where my horses were, all the horses whinnied to me and some seemed agitated - this is very unusual - usually they're quiet when I get there.  Most of the horses in our aisle are in the same gelding herd, and it was clear they all knew something was wrong.

Red was particularly upset - I think he for some reason feels responsible for all the horses in his herd - he worries about them.  His head was high, his eyes were huge and he was very tense.  I took him out of his stall and walked him around, then took him to the door of the arena, which had a good view of the pasture where Mikey was lying near the barn.  He looked and looked, and snorted and snorted, but he didn't try to leave - he wanted to see and I think it made a difference to him.  I comforted him and told him he didn't have to worry, that Mikey was OK now.

I don't usually ride on Sundays, but today, after I groomed and hoof picked all three horses, Red and I rode.  I figured moving out would help him let go of tension and feel better, and I know it helped me.  It took a while for him to relax, but we ended with some lovely stretching down forward trot work, and he seemed much more content when I put him back in his stall.  I felt in some way that we were honoring Mikey with our ride.

Cherish your horses - you never know how long they will be with you.

19 comments:

  1. Poor Mikey. I'm so sorry to hear this.

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  2. Oh, I am so sorry for Mikey and his people and all his herdmates.

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  3. Oh no - that is so sad. Sending condolences to Mikey's person and to all that knew him, including your boys.

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  4. My husband put down his 27-year-old gelding Friday. Very different experience here; our other three horses didn't call or even seem to notice he was gone. Strange....

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  5. Poor Red. I'm glad you were able to help him understand and work through his agitation.

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  6. That's so sad -- but it's also interesting how Red reacted. So many people think that animals don't understand death, but since it's a perfectly natural thing I don't see why that would be the case. I am glad to hear you were able to give him a chance to see Mikey, and also to give him something to do afterward to help him work through his upset. It sounds like it really helped him.

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  7. Poor Mikey. That's so sad. Condolences to his people.

    I think it was important to help Red through this and to accept what had happened to his herd mate.

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  8. So sorry to hear this Kate. But, I'm thankful that Mikey's owner was there and was able to get the vet out promptly. Reactions like Red's are pretty common I think. In our little herd, we commonly think of them as a family. They look out and care for one another, and it's not unusual for them to show concern and also to grieve for an injured herdmate. It's a good reminder to all of us to cherish and love our horses, and the people in our lives that we love. You just never know...

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    1. I think it depends - if an old horse in the herd, who is declining and maybe sick, is euthanized and disappears from the herd, the horses seem to accept it much better than a sudden accident and death like Mikey's.

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  9. How sad..it's true, you never know. It's nice that Red seemed to be able to process it with your help

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  10. So sad for poor Mikey. What a shock for all involved, people and horses. :(

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  11. So sad, and it's really good that you were there to help Red. They know, they care - that's why we love them.

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  12. RIP Mikey! :( I agree with Victoria...they know, they need the comfort. Just a few weeks after I moved my Red to a farm where I board, an elderly pony that he had become VERY attached to had to be put down. Red whinnied for him like crazy. Once Shamus, the pony, was on the other side of the fence and they were starting to bury him, the vet advised me to walk him around Shamus to let him say "goodbye" in a way. It was time to turn everyone out anyways, so I just let Red out of the fence and let him follow me. That poor horse never left my side. Typically, he'd go find the others, but even without any halter or lead, he stuck to me and we went over to Shamus. They have feelings, they need someone or something to give them love when something is wrong.

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  13. They know when something is wrong like that.

    When my mare was very ill a couple months ago (displaced colon), her paddock mates outside stood vigil all night right by the gate watching and looking for her. They never do this any other time when she is gone for any other reason or being ridden.

    RIP Mikey.

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