Saturday, June 19, 2010

On the loss of a beloved horse - Happy Trails Over the Rainbow Bridge

Today, I lost a very dear friend.  Her name was Savannah Sue.  She was my third horse, and she held a very special place in my heart.  She was a yearling when I bought her, and I instantly fell in-love with her personality and beauty.  She bonded with my Quarter Horse, Mizte, who was 15 years older.  Savannah was a lawn ornament until I took her to a horse trainer, at the age of two-- a crusty old cowboy whose son had a winning streak with cutting horses.  My Arabian mare changed a tough cowboy's heart by showing that she could work a cow just like the Quarter Horses.  Savvy went on to win championships, and I have plenty of blue ribbons and trophies as her show legacy. I retired her from the show ring when she was six years old.  She became a one-time mom by delivering a colt that looks just like her. "Sonny" is living his years in a loving home with my cousin.

Her trail odomometer was full-- she had ridden many miles with me. It was time to retire her from climbing the steep trails, or asking her to ride for the hours we once did together. The two of us had developed severe arthritis in the same knee, so she became a pet.  She was my horse medicine and I was happy to just brush her and smell her "horsiness".   Unfortunately, the local price of boarding her reached a level that was too expensive for me. So, I moved her to a friend's ranch in Paso Robles (CA) for two years. She was well taken care of and she was happy.   Her personality was so charming, that she captured anyone's heart who would walk past her stall.  She lived for treats, and she'd pin her ears at feeding time...impatiently waiting for her food. But I had a longing to see her closer to home....

Savannah Sue returned closer to me on May 31st, where a friend who owns a ranch had an affordable place for her to live.  She had lots and lots of room to roam,  and I was ecstatic. I could nuzzle her again, feed her carrots and brush her.  I did notice that her muzzle seemed to have more grey and wrinkles...her lower lip flapped open more. She moved a bit stiffer, though she still lived for her carrots.  Gosh she was a sweet girl! Today, I received a frantic call from the ranch owner. Savannah was colicking.  I was home, sick with a cold, but Craig and I jumped into the car and drove the 11 miles to see her. The vet was on her way.  When we arrived, Savannah was in grave condition.  After careful deliberation, and running some tests, the vet told me that her prognosis wasn't good. Though the vet had sedated her, I could see my mare's back legs quivering, and I just knew that she was suffering.

I gave my horse the greatest give that anyone who loves an animal can do.  I decided it was time to give her a peaceful end.  I wasn't sure that I could stay to watch her take her last breath. I almost fled from the ranch, but I felt that I wanted to be there for her.  My friend cut Savannah's tail and we saved her beautiful flaxen mane.  She went down so peacefully and then she was still. I stroked her beautiful face and thanked her for all the years of joy that she gave me.  I made the right decision.  "Run, Savannah!"  "Mizte is waiting for you in those heavenly pastures."  You are an amazing animal... until we meet again!  Thank you.

She is now buried on the ranch, with her former stable mate.  I have some grieving to do.  I'll be back in a few days.

June 20, 2010

****THANK YOU FOR YOUR KIND EMAILS AND COMMENTS:  This morning, I woke up realizing what a gift it was that Savvy came home so I could enjoy her to the fullest. Your condolences and shared grief of your own experiences has given me so much comfort.  You are amazing people, and I thank you.****

Savannah Sue - August 1, 1983-June 19, 2010 

A Horse's Prayer

  I'm only a horse, dear Master, but my heart is warm and true,

And I'm ready to work my hardest, for the pleasure of pleasing you.

Good corn and hay and water are all that I wish to ask,

And a warm dry bed to rest on when I've finished my daily task.

Don't strike me in needless anger if I'm slow to understand,

But encourage my drooping spirits with a gentle voice and hand.

Finally, O my master, when my health and strength are gone -

When I'm getting old and feeble and my long life's work is done -

Don't sell me to cruel owners to be slaved to my latest breath,

But grant me the untold blessing of a quick and painless death;

That, as you have always found me a patient and loyal friend,

The years of my faithful service may be crowned by a peaceful end.

I plead in the name of the Savior,

Who cares when the sparrows fall,

Who was born in a lowly stable and knows and loves us all!
            - (Author Unknown)

With a sorrowful heart,

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Frieda said...

What a beautiful horse! I'm so glad that you were able to be close to her during her last few weeks. I do believe animals will have a place with us in the world beyond ours.

I am sure she is missing you as much as you are missing her...

Coni said...

I'm so sorry to read about the loss of your beloved Savannah Sue. My thoughts are with you during this sad time.

Mary said...

She was very beautiful and I know you will miss her. I'm sending hugs and blessings your way. Mary

Valerie said...

Debby, I'm so sorry. This beautiful tribute to you beloved horse broght me to the edge of tears. She was lovely and I have a feeling that she was comforted by your presence at the end.
I will keep you in my thoughts.

Julie said...

I've never owned a horse but that poem brought me to tears. I'm so sorry for your loss. Savannah Sue looks like an absolute sweetheart and I know you gave her an awesome life.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Savannah Sue was beautiful and I know you'll miss her. I'll be thinking of you during this sad time.

We spent this winter in a horse community in Florida and I was around horses for the first time in my life. They are fascinating.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Oh that is so sad about your horse. She was really beautiful and you could feel how much love you had for her.

TKW said...

Oh my God! Debby, I saw the title of this post and started crying immediately. I am so, so, very sorry. I know how thrilled you were to have her back and I'm sure you are devastated. What a horrible blow. Please let me know if there's anything I can do.

Susan said...

How difficult to lose such a wonderful friend and companion. She needed to come home, to be closer to you. I am so glad you had these last few weeks together. God bless.

Kim said...

I'm so very sorry Debby! I will be thinking of you and sending big hugs your way. Take care.

Peg said...

My sympathies to you Debby. Savannah Sue was a beautiful horse, and from the pictures one could tell she was well cared for. I know she meant a lot to you.

I used to work for the state BOAH, and letting her go was the compassionate thing to do, but it is still hard to let go. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

blah blah blah said...

I have lurked around your blog for months and check it often. I sit here now, sobbing my heart out for your loss. I am so sorry. It seems when I hear of a loss such as yours, it brings home to me the terrible loss of my husband 2 years ago. It is such an unbearable pain and I feel yours. It was so wonderful that you brought your horse home, I remember reading how excited you were to have her only a few miles away. My condolences, dear..

Atlanta, GA

Carla and Michael said...

The loss of a loved one is very difficult, be that a human or an animal. She just wanted to get home and be closer to you and feel you there more often. She was comforted in knowing how much you loved her and knew she could go peacefully with your loving touch.
Condolences to you and your family in this time of grief.

Muneeba said...

Oh Debby .. my heart is breaking for u and for Savannah Sue .. so SO sorry. I'm crying because u described the whole thing so well .. I almost feel like I was there in her last moments. I'm happy that she went peacefully, but I feel your pain and that saddens me deeply. You were an amazing mom to her .. take as much time as u need to grieve; she deserved it.

Emily said...

What a beautiful story, and a gorgeous horse. There's nothing like having a close relationship with a horse. I had a horse in high school named Mike. I miss him terribly all the time.

Take your time grieving. You deserve it.

Raina said...

I am so sorry to hear this very sad news. I am glad that you were able to spend her last days with her. I bet she was too.

Penny said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Savannah Sue was a beautiful horse. My thoughts are with you with a tear in my eye.

Robin said...

Debby, I am sorry for your loss. Pets, no matter how big or small are family. It sounds like she had a good happy life because of you. Take care....

Joanne said...

Sweetie, I am so incredibly sorry to hear this. I know how excited you were when she came home. Maybe it was fate...the universe's way of allowing you to spend some quality time with her before she passed. I'm sure she knew how loved she was...she was one lucky horse to have you as her owner.

À LA GRAHAM said...

It is so hard to lose a pet and a friend, I know the pain well. I love the Rainbow Bridge, I always read that book when I am missing my dogs. Hope you start feeling better soon.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

So sorry to hear of your loss. Your horse was so lovely. I first came to your blog because you had a photo of your horse in your profile! A few years ago I lost 3 horses in the course of 4 months and it was one of the worst times in my life. The first time I ever saw my husband cry was when we lost my horse Sarge. Thanks for sharing the story and this tribute and I hope you find peace.

Diana's Cocina said...

So sorry to hear about beautiful Savannah Sue. I will keep you in my thoughts.

Monica H said...

Oh honey, I am so so sorry. A friend and I were just talking about you and Savvy then I clicked over and saw this. I am in shock! I cannot believe this has happened in such a short amount of time- she just got back home! I am so glad that you had the time to spend with her these past few weeks. I know that she loved those moments with you as much as you did with her.

I wish you peace and love as you are missing your sweet girl, Savannah Sue.

Hugs to you my dear friend,

pcdennis1 said...

Here I am, 3 days after the event, just found the whole post and am bawling like a baby over your loss. I'm just SO SORRY she developed colic, but I know you made the right decision. How do you preserve her main and tail or is there anything special you need to do? I'm just so, so sorry.

Marguerite said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your beautiful horse. My thoughts are with you during this difficult time. Hugs.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I was very sorry to read about your loss. Wishing you a sense of peace and happy memories.

Cheryl said...

Oh my god, how did I miss this. I am soooo very sorry, but sooo glad she was home with you for the last part of what was I am sure a fairytail life. hugs to you.... I will let my beautiful babies know she is nearby and to introduce themselves

bella said...

Oh my dear Debby,

I received your comment late last night and could not reply to you until after I got home from work tonight. I am so sorry and saddened for your loss. I was trying to hold back my tears as you told about her life with you, but my attempts failed and I just bawled like a baby. What a blessing that you had her in your life. There is absolutely nothing like a loving horse as a beloved friend, and yes, let's hope that the Rainbow Bridge is true! Why would a loving God keep these joys from us in Heaven?

Here is a quote and a poem that also helped me during my grief that I'd like to share with you. I am going to save the poem that you also posted for Savvy on your post.

"Nothing is more sacred as the bond between horse and rider... No other creature can ever become so emotionally close to a human as a horse. When a horse dies, the memory lives on because an enormous part of his owner's heart, soul, very existence dies also... but that can never be laid to rest, it is not meant to be..."
~ Stephanie M. Thorn

When you look beyond the fenceline and see that I'm not there,
Please remember that I'll never forget how much you really cared.
I appreciate all the love you put into my soul,
Often making me feel as though I was, once again, a newborn foal.
When you look beyond the fenceline and see an empty space
I'm hoping for thoughts of joy to replaces those tears on your face.
Although our time together was taken away too soon,
I'll always be watching over you through the sun, stars, and moon.
When you look beyond the fenceline you should not feel all alone.
For a part of you came with me the day I went to God's home.
And although I didn't want to, so soon, to be put to rest
I assure you, dear friend, that my spirit and soul still feel the very best.
When you look beyond the fenceline and think of me for awhile.
Remember all the fun we shared and those times I made you smile.
Remember how we'd run the fields, but never run away
I'll never forget your gentle touch on my coat of bay.
So, when you look beyond the fenceline don't think we're far apart
For every time you think of me, I'm right there in your heart.
~ author unknown

Here's where I posted the above statement and poem. I will keep you in my prayers because I truly know your sorrow. Blessings my friend, Roz

LadyJayPee @ Eating, Etc said...

I'm so glad you had those final weeks to be close together again. Wiping tears away for the story of her life & for your loss.

Phoo-D said...

I'm so sorry to hear this Debby. Losing a horse is a very sad thing. I am so glad that you were able to spend some time with her close to home before she passed. Hugs!