Endurance Riding

Aug 19 2015

And He Left Me With a Broken Heart…

Published by under Endurance Riding

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It was a Saturday when I knew. It was warm out, slightly muggy, and my skin felt sticky under my worn T-shirt. He didn’t follow me around the horse paddock as I mucked. He didn’t try to tip the wheelbarrow over. He stood in the corner, hanging his head low.

That’s when I put a call in to a woman who I knew would know the answer.

How do you know when it’s time?

When he has more bad days than good.

On Monday, I called the vet at UC Davis who had been following Forest’s case for months. He, too, agreed it was time. Sometimes, the only thing we can offer is relief from suffering.

The days leading up to Thursday were sad, so sad, but so very beautiful. Many of my students who had learned to ride on Forest came to see him, came to say goodbye. They came with handfuls of treats, bags filled to the top with sliced apples, carrots, watermelon rinds. Forest was allowed to eat all the alfalfa he wanted. We took him off his treatment meds, but gave him an increased dose of pain medicine. Sometimes, the only thing we can offer is relief from suffering.

On Wednesday night, Melissa (whose mother had been Forest’s original owner) brought her 3-year-old son, Hunter, to meet Forest. Hunter spent time with “Grandma’s horse,” brushing him and gingerly handing him treat after treat. A group of us sat with Forest, brushed him gently, combed his tail until it shined, and took him for a walk.

The next morning I awoke just after dawn. I got Forest out of the paddock, brushed him, and sat on his back as a friend walked us around the field. I closed my eyes, locking every last step in my memory. I lied down on his back, my head on his rump, counting the clouds in the sky. I put my arms around his neck, and I kissed him all over.

The haul to UC Davis with Forest and Beauty (who was going to be re-evaluated for her splint bone fracture) was quiet. Gary drove, the boys slept in the back seat, and I stared out the window.

When we arrived at UC Davis, the boys and I spent more time with Forest, offering him more of his favorite treats. Declan quietly sat on his back, as Gary stroked his neck, and Jakob laid sweet kisses on his muzzle.

When it was time, the vet tech placed a catheter in the vein in Forest’s neck. As she did, I spent a moment with the veterinary students, sharing Forest’s story. I told them about Randi, Melissa’s mother, the reason Forest had found me. We had lost Randi 6 years previously, in the same month, July.

The walk to the lawn was quiet. I led Forest by the handmade rope halter and lead I had made him years ago. He was sedated, and comfortable. I slipped him the heart shaped horse cookie I had in my pocket, and the boys and I gathered around him, whispering to him, touching him all over. I knelt down in front of him, wrapped my hands around his face, and kissed him over and over. His muzzle was soft, and I continued to touch my lips against his until I realized it was time. I suddenly had this overwhelming feeling that I just wanted to get this over with.

Sometimes, the only thing we can offer is relief from suffering.

Dr. Prutton approached Forest with a large syringe. I remember seeing a pink fluid, a bright and happy color, like bubble gum. Tears flowed down my face, as my fingertips gently stroked Forest’s face. I saw his legs wobble, and I suddenly turned away, yelling that I didn’t want to watch. I wanted to run, I wanted to run so far away from the pain.

Sometimes, the only thing we can offer is relief from suffering.

Moments later, in the time I took only one breath, Forest had found the ground. The world around me disappeared. I do not remember the vet standing near, or the students observing, or my family around the corner. I wanted to throw myself on top of Forest, and beg him to take me with him, but someone gently touched my arm. Soli. She told me to be careful of his legs, because he wasn’t gone just yet. I leaned down and buried my face in his neck. I was suddenly filled with an immense sadness as I felt him leave. The sobs choked me, almost stealing my breath, and the sadness suddenly turned to anger as I cried over and over, “I am so sorry, Forest.”

Sometimes, the only thing we can offer is relief from suffering.

Dr. Prutton put his stethoscope on Forest’s heartgirth, quietly announced that he was gone, and I continued to cry. My family joined me, gathering around Forest, and as I sat there, buried in his neck, my tears finally slowed. The sun warmed my back, the softness of the grass stroked my legs, and I was suddenly so comfortable there in Forest’s neck that I wanted to close my eyes. I wanted sleep to find me. I knew I could find it here, and I would sleep for hours, dreaming beautiful dreams, and awake, and all would be right in the world again.

I looked up to see Declan picking flowers from the grass, little flowers with purple tops. He carefully placed each flower on Forest’s face, arranging them just so. It was then that I knew it was over, but it was going to be okay.

Sometimes, the only thing we can offer is relief from suffering.

We picked ourselves up off the grass, and went to find Jakob’s Beauty. We received good news about her – she is healing well. Her destressed whinny called out for Forest as we loaded her into the horse trailer without him. We put Forest’s fly mask on her and hung his halter next to her, hoping his sweet smell would bring her comfort.

The drive home was quiet, and I did find sleep, off and on, as Gary drove.

A few days after Forest’s passing, I posted this on Facebook:

Six years ago, a little black and white Appaloosa gelding came into my life. I wasn’t looking for a horse. In fact, I already had a horse. But this little gelding found his way to me, and into my heart, after his original owner, Randi, lost her courageous battle with breast cancer.

Tonight, as I was reading some past entries in my journal, I found a short paragraph I had written back in 2011: “Forest is my rock. He is my friend, my confidence builder. He constantly challenges me. He is like a young child who questions your authority, but you can never stay too mad for too long because he wins you back every time. I enjoy being with him – sitting with him in the round pen, going for a slow, Sunday ride, grooming him. He is my big lap dog, honestly. I always seem to love myself a little more when I am with him.”

Is it possible to love another being, one not from the same species, as deeply as one human loves another? The answer is yes.

Forest left us on July 23, 2015, and on that day, I was filled with a sadness I did not know existed. But I imagine Randi is riding carefree now, galloping astride his back. And for that, I am truly glad.

“The love for a horse is just as complicated as the love for another human being… if you never love a horse, you will never understand.” ~ Author Unknown

RIP Forest Gumption

March 1, 2004 – July 23, 2015

Forest

22 responses so far

22 Responses to “And He Left Me With a Broken Heart…”

  1. Celeste Comforton 01 Oct 2015 at 11:44 am

    What a beautiful tribute to a great horse. He came into your life with a purpose. He was there when you needed him. Forest touched so many people while he was with you. He will live on in your memories forever.

  2. Michael Doneyon 01 Oct 2015 at 11:47 am

    Very touching. Both of your lives were better for having time spent together.

  3. Aurora Grohmanon 01 Oct 2015 at 12:11 pm

    Totally cried. Sweet eternal pastures to him. You can bestow all the gifts he taught and left you with on other horses in need ☆

  4. Dianna Chapekon 01 Oct 2015 at 12:28 pm

    His legacy will always live on as his kids grow into wonderful horsewomen & horsemen.

  5. Jessica Stohlmanon 01 Oct 2015 at 1:00 pm

    <3 Beautful <3

  6. Cindi Faulconer Floryon 01 Oct 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Your words are so eloquently spoken. I sobbed like a baby reading this. I too know the saddness of saying goodbye to a great horse and friend. One of my saddest days ever..

  7. Stacie Crainon 01 Oct 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Eeeeee…..crying at the dentists office while waiting for a crown. Had to reassure the dental team….
    You’re an amazing woman and I love your spirit….gentle and kind with fire as needed.

  8. Linda Straub Boisaon 01 Oct 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Jaya, if you want to know your calling it is as an author! You can write about the most ordinary things and make them touching. And you can take great moments of sadness and describe them beautifully. You should really write a book, obviously about horses!

  9. Andrea Siplova-Sidenstrickeron 01 Oct 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Beautifully written, my heart aches for you… Thank you for sharing…

  10. Jessica Olejnikon 01 Oct 2015 at 3:32 pm

    So beautiful Jaya- A bittersweet moment that will
    never leave your memory. You have a gift sweet one.

  11. Ashly McHattonon 01 Oct 2015 at 3:43 pm

    You are a fantastic writer. I’m so, so sorry for your loss, but so happy you and Forest found each other and that he got to spend the rest of his life with you. I’m going to get more tissues now…

  12. Carla Richardsonon 01 Oct 2015 at 4:01 pm

    So beautiful, a well deserved tribute. Tears in my eyes. Love to you.

  13. Sherri Lords Romeroon 01 Oct 2015 at 4:19 pm

    We just put down a grand 30 year old quarter horse who made everyone around her better…..she lived in the same place with her only foal who is twenty now….for the last 27 years . She was the best team penning horse I have ever ridden and I was with her till she was buried on her farm. Hugs . Rip Forest and Isle Sashey

  14. Ashley Clift Jenningson 01 Oct 2015 at 4:47 pm

    wow. just beautiful.

  15. Nina Bomaron 01 Oct 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Lovingly written… So sorry for your loss.

  16. C Brett Smithon 01 Oct 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Bless you JayaMae…and Thank you for sharing this beautiful story…

  17. Susieon 01 Oct 2015 at 8:21 pm

    We know exactly how you feel. They become a part of the family. And depend on us for everything, and when we lose them we tend to blame ourselves since they are so helpless. We will never get over the loss of Showtyme and Brian still mourns the loss of his Stallion Wynforan which was 20 yrs ago. Know that Forrest was loved and had a wonderful life!!

  18. Alisha Danielon 02 Oct 2015 at 8:09 am

    So sad, remember the good times. It’s hard to say good bye to old friends. Beautifully written, reminds me of my four legged friends who are waiting on the other side of the rainbow bridge.

  19. Carol Palmer Baileyon 02 Oct 2015 at 8:27 pm

    Fate was in your path as was for Forrest…. Thankful you had each other, although seemingly too brief…. His light shines brightly in you ….

  20. Chris Wuon 02 Oct 2015 at 8:41 pm

    That was so beautiful, what an amazing journey you were able to have with him. You were both blessed to have each other.

  21. Chris Kaznowskion 05 Oct 2015 at 7:55 pm

    So sorry for your loss. This is beautifully written and is helping me with the anniversary of the loss of one of our horses.

  22. Katina Scaliaon 12 Oct 2016 at 10:47 pm

    This brought tears to my eyes for so many different reasons. The love that you and forest shared and the way you explained his earthside departure were both very beautiful. You two are lucky to have had one another. I’m lucky to know and be taught horsemanship by such a comparisonate woman.

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