Last month we had to “put down” one of our horses that we have owned for 9 years due to a progressive, painful illness. It was humane and it was time.
Jazmin loved apples and the day before she passed I shared one with her. Jazz would take a bite and then let me take one. Sometimes we would take one together, and my lips touched her soft muzzle.
Horse people like me say that “sharing an apple with your horse is like breaking bread with Jesus” because that is how strong the bond is between us.
After I hand-fed her most of the apple, I flung my arms around her neck for our last hug while I wept into her curly, flowing mane until the tears rolled down onto my bare legs. It hurt so badly to let her go.
As I slowly stumbled toward the barn door, I could only look back at her once to see her watching me the whole way.
“I love you, Jazz” were the last words I whispered to her.
We buried her right next to the front corner of the barn, so that I can look out of my bedroom window to see the apple tree we will plant on her grave. Then someday when the blossoms produce the juicy red fruit that Jazz loved so much, I’ll sit down and share an apple again with my Jazmin, the strong-hearted, sassy head mare with the most courage I have ever seen in a horse.
Paso Fino horses can live to the age of 40, and being only 12 years old, she should have outlived me, but chronic illness took my Jazz too soon. My heart is broken.
I understand whole-heartedly the pain that my Jazmin endured. My multiple chronic illnesses made me unable to take care of her like I did before my life came crashing down in 2010.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome developed quickly that year. I had no idea what was happening to me. I was a teacher at the time, and realized after a few months of dragging myself home after school to crawl into bed for the rest of the day that it was more than just feeling tired. Later, I needed to go out to my car during lunch and stretch out for a short rest in the back seat just to get to 3:00 pm.
My Jazmin started having to lie down in the pasture for hours each morning facing the direction of the warm, morning sun. This year she also began to stretch out in the hay pile during the evening while her companion horse ate around her.
By the fall of 2010, pain had developed and progressed to the point that I couldn’t walk more than the 50 feet to our barn without sitting to rest. Jazz would be waiting for me to check in on her, rub her face, and share an apple.
She was also beginning to experience some pain. She had a low thyroid with the start of Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS). And now I had fibromyalgia.
My symptoms grew worse during the winter while Jazz grew worse each spring as we tried to keep her off grass. We fed her hay all year, but she was determined to have some nibbles on the bright green treat that led to laminitis. She foundered. Winter was actually better for her.
I tried many medications that my body rejected. Pain relief trials failed with allergic reactions. Side effects were so horrid that they outweighed the targeted benefits. The sedation, nausea, dizziness, memory loss, irritability, weight gain, and more became overwhelming to the point that the illnesses and the side effects were blurred.
This spring Jazmin needed pain medication just to stand and walk so she could eat hay. She foundered again. The laminitis had progressed to the point of no return.
The day that I saw her holding up her left front leg, while trying to hop to greet me, was the moment I knew I couldn’t save her. Jazz was suffering, and I couldn’t keep her around for selfish reasons. She needed to rest in peace.
I am still suffering without that option.
Charlotte Ann lives in Wisconsin.
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The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that! It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.