Monday, September 28, 2009

Saying Goodbye.

We love old horses. No secret there. But because we focus on old horses, specifically, saying “goodbye” is an all too common occurrence.

Sometimes the decision is difficult. There is no clear answer. Is the horse in pain? Can the pain be managed? Will he recover from the current malady, or will he continue to decline? Is he happy, or does he seem distressed? Do the “good days” outnumber the “bad days?” All questions that rarely have straightforward answers.

At times, however, the right answer is clear. Saturday, was such a time. Oracle coliced. With no warning, for no apparent reason, our Tough Ol’ Broad went down in pain. The vet arrived as quickly as she could get here, began an exam and administered medications to ease the pain. Even with the meds on board, Ori’s pain continued. Doc gave her a poor prognosis. Non-surgical treatments were long shots. Surgery might save Ori’s life, but her age and other chronic illnesses made her a poor surgical candidate.

There was only one answer. We had to let go of our desires and heartache and make a decision in Ori’s best interest. With a veterinary opinion that our tough little Welsh girl was likely not coming out of this one, we could not allow her to endure worsening pain that might continue for hours or days before she would succumb to shock. The light had already left her eyes which looked out with a blank stare.

No time for prolonged goodbyes, treats, one last fling in the “Outback” field. The time was now. Then, with one final act, Oracle was gone. The pony who had no use for humans when she arrived at TREES left his life knowing that many, many people cared. Thank you to the SARA volunteers who stayed with her throughout the morning, until her last breath.

Now. Monday. Now we can take time to sort out our own feelings. To try to figure out what happened. What did we miss? What could we have done differently? Why Ori? Why now, just as she was re-learning to like people?

We will likely never have answers to any of those questions, or to the many questions that will continue to arise over the next few days.

The one question we do have an answer for is “Did we do the right thing?” Yes, I believe we did. Was it hard? Absolutely. It’s difficult to hear and to accept the statement “There is nothing we can do.” To accept that verdict, we must let go of our own wishes. And so we did.

But we haven’t let go of Oracle. Her presence will be felt for many years, as we continue to feel the presence of all former TREES residents as they guide us, push us and sometimes prop us up. They are the spirit of Traveller’s Rest. The reason TREES exists. And so, we grieve for now. In time the grief will turn to celebration of the horses we’ve met and fallen in love with.

GodSpeed, old girl.

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