Last night Jim called me to say that he was checking the horses and Willow was down… that she seemed ok, but couldn’t seem to get up. I geared up and headed out and found her lying calmly, looking serene. I had observed several days earlier that she was looking incredibly large, as though pregnant. So I checked under her tail and found everything swollen, indicating (considering her calm and serene demeanor) that she was in labor. So we backed off and observed her and her actions seem to indicate that she was indeed pregnant. We had very little history on her from her previous owner so there was a great deal of unknown. We left her alone and were very unobtrusive with her. Around 3, when it began to lightly rain and get colder, we decided that things were becoming questionable even though she was still calm and serene so we called Dr. Stafford. A great deal of miscommunication as well as a cellphone malfunction followed so instead of him coming out at 4am, he didn’t get our call until 7am. He arrived at the farm early this morning and even he thought she looked pregnant and was presenting as a pregnant mare in trouble. After a thorough exam it was discovered that she was not pregnant, but had some sort of tumor/gut anomaly and had most likely ruptured her colon or strangulated her gut. We made the decision to put her down, which became a situational fiasco because her veins were collapsing. It was a horrible, horrible experience and I’m glad that Dr. Stafford (assuredly the most kind and talented vet that I have ever dealt with) was here. He was respectful to us all but most importantly to Willow.
At 4am I knew that things had made a turn for the worse. I knew from then that Willow wasn’t going to make it as she went from being calm and serene to agitated and fretful. During the miscommunication/cellphone mishap I pretty much hit the wall… I punched Jim (his shoulder), I railed against the universe, I used language reserved to the coarsest of sailors and I screamed at Jim and I cried… sobbed and got really mad. There was Willow, in pain, cast on her side in the cold rain. I couldn’t help her… we tried putting a pad under her head so that she wouldn’t get mud in her eye but she would just thrash it away… there was nothing I could do to help her, I couldn’t make the rain stop, I couldn’t get her up to move her out of the weather, I couldn’t do anything but watch her suffer… knowing she was dying. I ultimately piled a big armful of hay next to her head and she ate at it even as she was laid fully on her side… something I’ve never seen a cast horse do.
Jim and I stayed up all night, allowing for a little more than an hour’s nap sometime after 4… we were in and out more times than I could count. At daybreak I sat at the kitchen table and tried sipping a cup of warmish tea (made the night before) to stop the daggers in my throat, but all I could do was blink and let the tears fall… I cried until I had no more tears to cry and even as I sit here at nearly 11:30pm my eyes are still like sandpaper.
I had pinned a great many hopes on Willow… her kind and willing personality as well as her unflappable nature (spooking wasn’t in her repertoire) made her a dream of a horse. I was so looking forward to riding her one day… had just the day before made the analogy to Jim that me driving the Porsche (long story) was like him riding Willow.
I will never ride her… will never have her turn those bemused brown eyes on me again… never see her fling her head up when I whistle… never hear her slow, heavy steps sneaking up behind me… never feel her nose trying to fit into my jacket pocket where she knew the treats were hidden… never see her school Fantine on who exactly was boss mare in the draft paddock.
Oh how I miss what we could’ve been… but more than that I miss was she was…
Goodbye my dear sweet Willow…..