Today’s blog is a heart-felt condolence for all those who have lost horses in their lifetime. It is a blessing to have a horse, but it is also devastating when you lose one.
Just this past month I lost my beloved Apollo. He was 31 years old and had a heart attack during a terrible storm here in Maryland. We had a tornado come through the farm and it destroyed three pastures, took down trees, a few run-in sheds, and lots of fencing. Horses got loose, were running around terrified, and two of the horses died during the storm.
Apollo was one and the other was a 10 year old mare who had severe colic and died. A few of the other horses had colic from the stress and were treated and taken care of the next day. A third horse was hospitalized.
The storm was devastating in many ways!
But as soon as I heard that the farm had been hit by a tornado, even though the storm was still raging on, my husband and a friend went out to be with Apollo. Unfortunately, I was in California with my family and couldn’t be there.
I was blessed to have had two people that Apollo knew go out to be with him. They were just as much family to Apollo as I am. But the damage had been done. Apollo had suffered a stroke and was not well.
Thankfully, my husband and a friend were there with Apollo and he did recognize them both. They put me on speaker so I could talk to Apollo and he did calm down. Even though the storm had not let up and there was still lightning and thunder cracking all around and it was as if the heavens had opened up with a deluge of rain, the two men stayed by Apollo’s side to comfort him.
When the vet got there, the weather had still not let up. And even though Apollo had calmed down some, he was still terrified. The farm hand was still trying to get horses under cover and into other pastures. It had to be a terrible sight. I was on the phone the whole time and it sounded terrible. The vet checked out Apollo and said his heart rate was over 100 and it didn’t look good. Then before we could decide the best course of action, Apollo started a full blown heart attack and the vet had to put him down so he didn’t suffer further.
The worst part was that I couldn’t be there in person to say goodbye and be there as he passed. But at least I had seen him two days earlier, before I left for California and we had an amazing day together. Our connection was amazing.
I loved Apollo with all my heart. He was the first horse that I had foaled myself. So he had been with me since birth, apart from the year when he was stolen. Being there and helping with his birth gave us a different type of connection and bond. It was beautiful, but different. Deeper.
He really was “my baby” as seen in this video.
I was grateful that I got to talk to him and be there over the phone while this was going on. I was also very grateful that Apollo could be with family he knew and loved at the end as well. And I was grateful that the vet came out in that nightmare storm and was able to put Apollo at rest peacefully and stop his suffering.
But most of all, I am grateful that I was able to have him in my life for 31 years and his father for 34 years. Jazz and Apollo were one-of-a-kind horses that taught me a lot about love, life, and horsemanship. I will forever be grateful.
One of my students, who didn’t know I had lost Apollo, sent me an email about the loss of her horse. And in her email she said that she had been contemplating whether to get another horse or not.
She said, “and after wondering whether to get another horse, I realized how dumb it was to think I could live without one.”
Thank you Bonnie. After reading this, I realized – I totally agree, I can’t live without a horse in my life. So I am now in negotiations to purchase Kit, the beautiful black Arabian stallion that I was hired to train that lived on my farm for over a year.
When the farm was sold and all the horses had to find new homes, Kit couldn’t go to a boarding facility with all the other horses. He went to a private farm where I couldn’t visit. But arrangements have been made and I will be going out to see him this weekend. I can’t wait!