This isn't really my story to tell. I was at mile 4 when I got the text from Dusty that a horse was down on trail. It doesn't seem right to write about my ride without talking about it though. I've never been to a ride with death before.
The day started out with a panicked call from a friend. Lady Farrier was out at her barn bright and early to trim. She let her dog run wild and it got too close to her horse. Her horse booted it square in the side of the head creating several skull fractures. She wanted reassurance from Dusty. From what she told Dusty of the emergency room visit the dog should eventually be ok. In a lot of pain with a lot of recuperation ahead, but ok. Personally I don't like dogs mixed with horses. A lot of people do and I don't get into arguments with them. It's your dog. It's the risk you take. I'm glad it wasn't any worse although it is bad enough.
If you let your dogs loose around horses please be careful. Even the most friendly horse can get spooked and kick. Give your pup an extra kiss tonight.
At mile 4 I got a text from Dusty that a horse was down on trail. It was the lady who had pulled in beside us. I was first out on trail followed a few minutes later by two friends. Dusty was hanging out near registration playing in the kiddie pool wih Wyatt when one of the ladies came galloping up yelling that there was a down horse. Dusty immediately grew worried that it was Gem figuring she would have said that it was her friend's horse. After she got closer she confirmed it was her friend. They called the vet and he was 30 minutes out. They were stressed and helpless and so Dusty said that he was a small animal vet with no drugs but if someone could watch Wyatt he could at least evaluate and help some. The ride managers who owned the property took Wyatt.
All my information comes from either Dusty who was on site or from the owner herself. Apparently the mare wasn't acting right all morning. The lady rescued her a year before and she was a steady eddy on trail at 8 years of age. She had been abandoned pregnant tied to a tree at age 4 then took in by a rescue then adopted by a friend and eventually came to this lady. She had fed her with a grain bag that morning and was concerned she choked a bit but all seemed well as she tacked up.
Not even a mile from the start the horse wasn't moving right and walked right into a tree. The rider dismounted and the horse fell over. She couldn't get her up so she sent her friend back for help. When dusty got there the horse was down but attempting to get up. She eventually made it to her feet but then her front legs gave out and she tumbled down again. She had good gut sounds but her color was white.
By the time the vet got there she was seizing badly. He gave her meds and an IV and once she was calm they tried again. This time she got up and then fell over backwards. She broke her neck. When they tried one last time to get her up, Dusty was helping push on her neck and felt the bones crush. He said he has never felt a more sickening feeling and the color drained from his face. They called it and put her to sleep.
I happened upon them on my way back to the finish and saw Dusty holding the IV. I've never seen a horse down on trail before. I hope I never do again.
Everyone reacts differently to loss. I don't know this woman or her history. I know she came back and ate lunch telling everyone she was upset she didn't get to see the wonderful trails. I know she told everyone she didn't have any bond with the mare. I know everyone else was in greater shock than she was. Who knows? Maybe she cried her eyes out the entire way home. Maybe this was her way to stay strong enough to tow an empty trailer home. Everyone reacts different.
Anytime we take a horse out we may not bring them home. She was a mile out on shady trail at 8:30 am and had walked to that point. The horse wasn't over ridden. She had something in her head go wrong and it happened while out on a ride instead of in her pasture.
Give your horse and extra big hug tonight. Don't take them for granted. Enjoy your time as long as you can.