Around 4 pm today I was on my couch trying to gear up to go ride my horse and there was a knock on my door. Daniel, who takes care of the horses on my farm, was standing outside, and between the dozen or so Spanish words that I know, and the dozen or so English words that he knows, we established that Jack was not eating, and might be sick. I quickly dressed for the cold and headed out the door.
I found Jack showing classic colic signs, pawing, sweating, biting at his sides, and crouching down as though he wanted to roll but wasn't sure about it. I made a call to his owner (my landlady, who is away this week), and then headed across the farm to get the banamine out of her kitchen. I gave him 10cc's IV and then took him for a walk up and down the driveway for a while and he immediately perked up.
Unfortunately, 5 hours later, still no manure, no drinking, and as the banamine was wearing off, he was becoming uncomfortable again, quickly. Given Jack's age and overall health, he was not a candidate for surgery, so after a few calls with the vet, his owner made the decision to relieve his suffering. I gave him another 10 cc's of banamine around 10 pm to keep him comfortable.
About an hour ago, I met the vet at the little barn next to my house and we led Jack out to a paddock where he stood in untouched, pure white fluffy snow that sparkled in the moonlight. The night was quiet and peaceful, and the icicles on the trees were catching the light of a full moon. It was a beautiful, peaceful setting.
As I stood with Jack, stroking his neck and watching him become increasingly sleepy, I told him to make sure that the first thing he does is go run and find his mom. Jack came to us through Re-Run, a thoroughbred adoption program, because his mom died of breast cancer last year and Jack was sadly no longer being cared for. As I stood there in the dark and the cold, our breath making little clouds around us, I felt sure that she was looking down on him and couldn't wait to see him again. I pictured how sweet their reunion would be, and how happy Jack would be once he was free from pain, free from arthritis and running joyfully the way young thoroughbreds do. I kissed his face again and reminded him, first thing, to run to his mom.
Jack's passing was peaceful and quiet, and dignified. He laid down softly in the snow and then quietly drifted off to sleep. I am glad that I was there to witness it, though I write this with tears in my eyes. I have poured myself a nice glass of red wine, and I raise a glass to the reunion of Jack and his mom. Run in peace, Jack.
"God forbid that I should go to any heaven where there are no horses."
- R. B. Cunningham-Graham, 1917 letter to Theodore Roosevelt