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.



63 comments:

  1. I am so so sorry for your loss! You and Sugar inspired so many of us to think about getting back in the saddle in our 40's and older. We all enjoyed reading about your adventures. She was an extraordinary mare and you were quite the pair. It was a freak accident which by definition is unusual, unlikely and unforeseeable. Please go easy on yourself. All my best to you and yours...

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    1. Thank you, fiberchick. I've always loved reading your comments on our posts. Your kind words and thoughts mean a lot.

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  2. I am so sorry. Your blog and the sweet sainted Sugar has brought back many memories of the relationship I had with my horse and the impact he had on my friends and family. When I heard the news on Sugar I felt the wind knocked out of me. I am so relieved your physical injuries were not worse. I hope you get to the place where you are not rewinding things in your mind. Sugar was such a character especially with her mothering ways. I hope those fond memories replace the what ifs. Rest in Peace Sugar. Sympathy and best wishes to you and your family.

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    1. Thank you so much for your very kind comments. I'm glad our stories brought back memories of good times for you, and please know that your kind words really help.

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  3. There are no words. I am incredibly sorry for your loss.

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    1. Thanks, Hilary, for reaching out - kind words always help. They really do.

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  4. I am so incredibly sorry, again. She was a wonderful, well-loved and there's nothing you could have done to prevent this. My pony had a similar fall last year, and his shoulder has been out ever since. Sometimes they get up. Sometimes they don't. That's no reason not to ride them. I can only imagine the heartbreak you are feeling, and my heart goes out to you. I'm wishing you peace and comfort in what must be an awful time. *huge hugs*

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    1. Dom, your big heart astounds me. I know you've just gone through a loss, and the fact that you took the time to reach out and comfort me just shows what a truly good person you are. Thank you. Bunches.

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  5. Read about your losing your beautiful, sweet, special mare, on another blog last week. Please accept my heartfelt condolences. I hope the happy memories will be some comfort to you and your family. Thanks for sharing Sugar with us in blogland. (((♥♥♥)))

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    1. Dear Calm, thank you for taking time to comment, and for your kind words. I've always loved hearing from you - thanks so much for taking the time to reach out and share the ride with us.

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  6. Thanks for sharing that special video with us- my heart is breaking for you and your family :(

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    1. Thank you, Karley. It means a lot that you would take the time to reach out with sympathy. Each comment or note brings a smile and a moment of peace, so I thank you for that gift.

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  7. oh my lovely friend I have no words of comfort but I love you and me heart is broken for you~cheryl

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    1. Aww, thank you, sock sister Cheryl. Kiss that Kahlua mare for me.

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  8. I am so sorry to read about Sugar....losing a horse is so much more than just losing a horse and only other horse people will understand that. They are so much more to us than a pet. So much more. My heart goes out to you that you heal as you remember and morn.

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    1. Thank you, PaintCrazy. You hit the nail on the head. It IS a different relationship, and for some reason that seems to be hard to explain. I've been lucky, though. My friends and my co-workers have all been super supportive, so that helps. As does hearing from wonderful folks like you.

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  9. There's no bond greater than what you had in the short time you were together. I am so sorry for your loss. Battling a loss like this is difficult and there's nothing anyone can say to really make it any better. It will come with time I promise, I never thought I'd get through. Enjoy your childrens' adventures as if they were your own and keep getting in the saddle. <3

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    1. Thanks, Madeline. It really does help to hear that it does get better from people who have been there and experienced it. Knowing that other people have done it lets you know that yeah, it'll always hurt, but there will be a time when the memories make you smile, not cry. Thanks for reading, and for reaching out.

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  10. Sending hugs and condolences. I lost my TB gelding 6 years ago and it was devastating, but it gets easier - I promise. Your video was a lovely tribute.

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    1. KateRose, thank you so much for reaching out. As I said in a reply to another comment, hearing from people who have lived through it has been so helpful. You know, when you a re going through it sometimes it feel like the world is going to end, and then it doesn't, and knowing others have felt that and healed and gotten to a good place after makes it easier, somehow. Thanks for your support and for taking the time to reach out.

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  11. Such a wonderful tribute to Sug Amy. I've popped it on Haynet for members to see for you xx

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    1. Awww, thank you! You're the best. I'm glad you liked it - of course I bawled buckets making it.

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  12. What a beautiful testamentary to your horse, Amy. Words can't describe your grief. For you, writing is therapy and this must have felt good to put it into words. Godspeed, Sugar and take all the time in the world to grieve for her. Only you will know what and when comes next. Sug thanks you for giving her the love and security that you did these past 6 years. Heaven is a little bit brighter with her shining star looking down.

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    1. Laurel, what beautiful sentiments - it does feel like I have a star or guardian angel watching over me. I mean, she did it when she was here with me, knowing her she probably feels like she still needs to keep me out of trouble. I think you're right, the writing helped, but the other point you make is right on the money: We do need to give ourselves permission to grieve as long as we want in a way that seems appropriate to us. Thanks so much for reaching out, Laurel. It means a great deal.

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    1. Thank you, Lynn. Every time someone reaches out with their support it helps so much, so thank you for being so kind and taking time to give your support.

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  14. My heart goes out to you,I remember the day my sweet boy put his head down for that last nibble,then lay down with his last exhale. A union of hearts,hooves & horse hair,separated but never severed. Take time,heal well,not your fault.Hug James,he'll understand. She's in that field just this side of the Rainbow bridge,blissfully waiting without pain a reunion with her loved one. Brightest healing energy to you.

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    1. Donna, thank you for taking time to reach out. It's amazing how they become such a large part of our hearts, isn't it. I'm sorry you lost your boy - but am sure that as hard as it was to lose them, even knowing how it would hurt to lose them, we'd still never give that time with them up. And you're right, hugging James does help, and he does understand, bless him. Thank you so much for your support -- it does truly help make this time bearable.

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  15. I'm so sorry! I'm not a big commenter, but I've been reading for a long time and always enjoyed your adventures. Sending big hugs.

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    1. Thank you -- the hugs always help! I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed reading - that always puts a smile on my face to hear that.

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  16. I was so sad to hear about Sugar. My thoughts are with you and your family.

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    1. Amanda, thank you. It is so amazingly comforting to get support like this. every note amazes me and makes me smile. I hope all is well with you and you're having fun with your boy.

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  17. I am so sorry for your loss. She was a great mare. The love and bond between you two was quite evident in your blog. You and your family are in my thoughts. RIP Sugar.

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    1. Thank you, Karen. She was a great mare, and thank you for saying that. I really appreciate your keeping us in your thoughts - it helps! I hope you and your horse are doing well and doing some fun things together.

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  18. I read this over the weekend and wanted to take some time to think about it before commenting, because it really affected me and I didn't know what to say right away. Days later, I still don't know what to say. Your love for Sugar is clear in every aspect of this blog (and I'm sure your real life as well!) and my heart just aches for you. Sometimes I think these horribly tragic accidents happen for a reason, even though I'm sure it's just heartbreaking now. Sugar went out in feeling good, doing something she loved and surrounded by people who love her. In a way, we all should be so lucky. I'm so so sorry for your loss.

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    1. Aww, Lauren, thank you -- your kind words made me tear up (in a touched way, not a sad way, if that makes sense). I'm sorry that you were upset to hear about Sug's loss, but the fact that you cared about us amazes me and makes me feel so good. I've always loved reading your comments. And you're right, things do happen for a reason, and someday I may know what that reason was. Thank you for your kind words, and I hope you and Simon are doing fun things together.

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  19. Amy, I saw your comment on COTH so I knew of your loss, and knew you would post here and tell us what happened when you were ready. My heart just breaks for you and your family. Sugar, your precious Sainted Mare, took such good care of you and your kids. You have made it so clear that she was a wonderful re-rider mount, a beautiful horse and a friend, companion and beloved family member. I am so very, very sorry for your loss. Rest in peace, Big Girl.

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    1. RiderWriter - thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind words. She did take good care of us - bless her big heart, she felt that somebody needed to! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment from time to time, always made me smile to see your handle. I think I busted a gut laughing about your one comment about sleep away camp! I don't know what's going to happen with AWIP, but if I do keep writing, I hope to see your comments again.

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  20. P.S. Your tribute video is absolutely beautiful, but I'm crying too hard to watch it. Sugar was special, that's all.

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  21. I am so very sad about your loss. At least you were with her doing what you both loved. She went out in the middle of doing great stuff, didn't have to suffer a slow decline. I know these words won't make it easier for you. I will say that I really enjoy your blog, and -- you know what? -- every day you gave her love and appreciated her for the wonderful being that she was. Good luck.

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    1. Dear Jane - You are absolutely right - we were together and doing what we loved, and that's what is important in the end, right? And your words do help, because the are the truth and more importantly because they are coming from someone who cares. Thank you for your support and kind words, Jane, they really do help.

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  22. This breaks my heart. Sending all the love and comfort to you and your family.

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    1. Thank you, Amy. We do appreciate it.

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  23. I've always loved anonymously reading your blog. I ride at a barn nearby so I love your stories about your kids, your love for your horse (and wine) and all the local shows we all go to. I've seen your amazing family in action before - but I was too shy to admit that I knew you through your blog posts. I heard about what happened to Sugar and wanted to express my absolute deepest sympathies.

    My Mom once gave me a card about my bond with my mare that read:
    Don't walk behind me, I may not lead
    Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow
    Just walk beside me and be my friend.

    Enjoy all those memories you walked together.

    I'm so sorry.......

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    1. Dear Anonymous, Wow - that poem is beautiful and so true. Thank you so much for sharing it. And for saying such nice things about Sugar, the kids and the blog. I'm not sure what we'll be doing in the near future, but I hope that if you do see at a show that you come up and say hi. We'd love to meet you! Thank you for commenting, and for caring.

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  24. There are no words. Nothing but love sent your way. Be easy with yourself.

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    1. Thanks, Lindsay - that love you're seining over really helps. And thanks for all the support and love you've shown over the course of the past few years. It's always meant a lot. I still can't get over the fact that people actually read what I write! Did I read somewhere that you were in NYC and you did not reach out?? Bummer - next time!

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    2. I was! I was in NYC for a quick trip to visit my dad in the hospital. I actually did think about reaching out to you but I wasn't sure how much time I'd have until I actually got there and saw him.

      I'm going to the World Cup in Vegas in April though, and would love to take you out to dinner, along with my mom.

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  25. Very sorry for your loss....sending you jingles and well wishes in this tragic time x

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    1. Dear T Myers - thank you - jingles are much appreciated. (But do I sound like a complete dope if I tell you I don't actually know what they are? I mean, I've always seen people sending jungles on COTH and whatnot, and assumed they were good thoughts/prayers, but if you actually asked me to define the term or where it originated from, I'd be at a loss.) I hope things with your ponies are going well! Looked like y'all were doing fun stuff last I checked. Thank you again for the support - it really, truly does help, each and every time.

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  26. I'm so sorry for your loss. I have loved reading about Sugar and all her quirks. She was obviously an incredibly special horse.

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    1. Thank you, Jessica. We certainly thought she was special. Then again, all our horses are special, aren't they. We're so lucky to have them, for however long it might be.

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  27. I am so sorry to hear about you losing Sugar. I have been reading your blog for a while now and your love for her shone through every post. I can't imagine what you must be going through right now. Thinking of you in this difficult time.

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    1. Laura, thank you for reaching out to offer your support. I can't even begin to express how the kindness of AWIP reader/friends has helped during this rough time. It makes me smile to know people read about us and care about us. I hope things are going well with your riding lessons- do I remember you were leasing a new horse?

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  28. I am so, so sorry. I know how bad I felt when I lost my heart horse in a freak accident a few years ago. I hope you can find some peace. I never met Sug, obviously, but you brought her to life for me and she'll live on in your words and our hearts. Not the same, I know, but you've got a lot of people in the world who hurt with you and wish we could help. Anything I can do, please get in touch. <3 <3 <3

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    1. Thank you, Jess. I'm so sorry to hear you had to go through a similar experience. It ain't easy, is it? They do live on, don't they? It isn't the same, but feeling their presence, even though it may not be physically, is important.

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  29. Amy, I am so very sorry for your loss. I love reading your blog/FB page since I am also 40-something rider and first-time horse owner with kids who ride, too. We know this sport can be dangerous, but the risk I hadn't expected was heartbreak. I wish you as much peace as is possible during this difficult time and we appreciate you letting us in on your journey.

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    1. Lisa, it makes me so happy when I hear from riders who are working through the same challenges I am. You are so aright when you say heartbreak is an unexpected risk. As Sug was getting older, I was coming to the realization that I was going to lose her and it would be devastating, but never did I expect to lose her like I did. A very wise friend of mine told me this, and I've been holding it close to my heart: "Each tear shed is payment for every moment of joy." It seems reasonable, and heaven knows I had so many moments of joy with my girl. Thank you so much for reaching out.

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  30. I am so sorry - there are no words. Sending best wishes - try to hold on to the good memories - they will help.

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    1. Thank you, Kate, for your kind words, and for taking the time out of your day to reach out. It always humbles me when people give of themselves like that. You're right, holding on to the good memories is important. A friend of mine told me that a therapist recommended looking at the pictures from good times, and focusing on those, to help get past the bad times. It does seem to help.Thank you so much for reaching out.

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  31. I've been thinking about this post and about you on and off since reading it and I wanted to circle back around and say how utterly heartbroken I am for you. I cannot even imagine your loss. She was a truly wonderful mare and I'm glad to have got to know her through the internet.

    You said above that you weren't sure what jingles are - I believe it's meant to be the jingling of a curb chain. It took me quite a while of reading COTH before realizing that!

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    1. Hey Amanda! Thank you for your so much for your kind words. I'm glad you felt you got to know her a bit. I'm biased, but I think she was truly one worth knowing. Thank you for clearing up the jingle issue for me. I've sent them a bunch of times, but really had no clue what I was sending! LOL I'm not the brightest bulb in the box, am I?

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  32. I am very sorry for your loss... And would like to suggest hoof beats in heaven yahoo groups

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