Sunday, August 17, 2014

Goodbye, My Sweet Girl

    Godspeed, sweet mare.
On Friday, August 1st, I lost Sugar. We were taking a lesson, and had just jumped a combination.  We had cantered three or four strides away from the out element when she caught a toe and we went down.  Sug was pretty surefooted, and I could probably count on one hand the times it had happened over the 6 years I'd had her.  She'd always recovered.  This time she didn't.

It happened so quickly.  One second we were cantering, and the next we were on the ground.  I went off her left shoulder, head first into the dirt.  There was a nanosecond where I thought she was going to land on me, and then she didn't.  She landed to my right, landed awkwardly, with her head under her body.  The second I got up I knew it was bad, and when the vet finally arrived he confirmed there was too much trauma to her spinal column for us to do anything but put her out of her pain.

I walked away from the accident with only a concussion.  People tell me I was lucky, and rationally I know they're right.  I don't feel lucky, though.  I feel heartbroken, the way you feel when you've lost your best friend.  My mind replays the accident over and over, and I get mired down in all the what-ifs.  What if I'd just hacked that night?  What if I hadn't jumped that last course?  Was there something I missed, some little sign that said maybe something was bothering her and I didn't feel it?  I know that this kind of thinking is not helpful, and I try to redirect my thoughts, but it's hard.  It's helpful that my instructor saw nothing wrong with her, said she had looked great and it was just a freak accident.  Considering this woman has been a 4* eventer and ridden internationally for the USET, I know she knows what she was seeing.

There's one thing I'd like to share with you as a result of my experience: If your horse is insured, always have your insurance information handy.  Keep one of the cards that comes with your policy in your tack trunk, and make sure your insurance agent, the emergency claims number and your policy number are in your phone.  This will save you valuable time and help your horse get the help they need faster.

Although Sug was 18, I can't help feeling we should have had a few more years together.  She should have had the chance to retire to a life of leisure in a field before she passed. I do take comfort in the fact that she was happy, healthy, sound, and still enjoying her job.  The last few weeks of her life we had taken a few cross country lessons, and she had clearly enjoyed them very much. She all but dragged me to the fences, jumping them easily and exuberantly. We even got her to go through the water complex, and to jump in and out of it, which was a major miracle considering her dislike of even the smallest puddle.

I miss her like crazy.  I miss the deep rumble of her nicker, and the adorable faces she made when she was begging for a treat.  I miss the way she'd lick me when I went in to her stall, and the way she'd groom me when I massaged her or scratched her itches.  I miss the way she loved the kids, always sticking her big face in theirs and licking them, as if she were their second mother and was checking to see that they were clean and presentable.  She took such good care of them when they rode her, just like she took care of me when I was on her back.  Mostly, I just miss being with her.

I have no idea what will happen going forward.  I guess that for the time being I will ride James, the kids' OTTB, when they aren't able to ride.  As for AWIP, I'm not sure what what's going to happen.  I imagine that when I'm in a better frame of mind I'll continue posting about the kids and their adventures. As for anything else, well, we'll see what happens.

I'd like to thank you all for coming along for the ride, for reaching out and commenting and sharing your experiences with us.  I can't even begin to tell you how amazing it's been to feel I have connections with people from all over because of this blog.

I've put together a little video containing some pictures from the six wonderful years we were privileged to have with Sug.  Some of them you may have seen, some may be new to you.  I hope you enjoy it.