As I write this, my heart is breaking. The screen is disappearing behind a fog and my tears are dripping onto the keyboard. Today I have had to make the toughest call that any horse owner will ever have to make – to end the suffering of their beloved equine partner. It’s a decision I have made before and it never gets any easier. But it is especially tough to make when the partner in question is young and in otherwise good health.
I’m not there as he breathes his last, I haven’t gone to say goodbye. There are several reasons for that. The main one being that he is simply in too much pain and needs to be set free and any delay for my own comfort will be selfish. Although, honestly, I’m also being selfish in staying away. While in my heart of hearts I know that this is the right choice, I cannot look him in the eye and tell him I’ve made it for him. I’m simply not strong enough for that. You may judge me for that, but that’s OK – there’s plenty, far more valid, reasons to judge decisions I’ve made, so you can just stand in line.
That’s why I’m writing this blog. The judgement that comes. Anyone who has been in my position will know just how difficult this process is. They will know how much consideration goes into it. The second guessing, the hope and the despair. Especially if, like in my case, it happens over an extended period of time. You almost envy the people who choose in the face of a sudden, unsurvivable injury – as there is no choice in that. In my case my dear Frankie has suffered 5 different possibly career ending injuries, that potentially could have been rehabilitated in isolation, but not all together. In the last two weeks he has come in from the field crippled lame not once but twice. The very kind vet who treated him yesterday said he’d work him up if I wanted him to but that this sweet horse would never be even paddock sound again. After 4 years of investigations and treatments and roller coaster rides of emotion as we think he might be ‘back’ it was time to call time.
Yet I know there will still be people who judge me. They will say that I could have done more. More than three visits to top Newmarket hospitals and innumerable visits by other top vets in between. More than 6 months of intensive rehab involving treadmills and physio and inhand exercises. More than a year in the field letting ‘Dr Green’ work their magic. More than tens of thousands of pounds of treatment and investigations. There will be people to say we didn’t try hard enough, that he just needed more time, different treatments, different vets. And one of them may be right. But for me and on behalf of everyone else who has been in this predicament before and will be in this situation on another day, just don’t. We only make this choice because we feel there is absolutely no alternative.
So today I truly become a rider without a horse. Frankie was an absolute superstar, a truly phenomenal talent and quite simply the best horse I ever sat on. I had the biggest of dreams for him and after his debut on 83% I had every reason to imagine those dreams could be attainable. Yet today my heart breaks, not for the loss of my dreams, but for the world’s loss of Frankie.
May you gallop free, my dear sweet boy.
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