Life cycles (part 1)

A guest found me right around noon that day. She said, “One of the horses fell as they were walking out to the pasture.”

I knew immediately.

He was showing signs of deterioration and getting weaker by the day. Every time we discussed the idea of making the call for him, he’d perk back to life or give us a sign that he wasn’t ready.

But on this particular day, I got there early to feed and he let out the most gentle whinny I had ever heard, like he was short of breath but excited to see me.

So when she told me, I ran.

I ran to the barn and saw his body on the ground.

I was trying not to draw attention because we were open and busy, and he deserved to go peacefully not with crowds peeking and gasping with his every move.

His eyes were wide with what felt like terror. His lips were quivering. His body was both frozen and trembling. I could feel him shutting down.

I pulled his head onto my lap, pet his neck with one hand, and partially covered his eye with my other hand.

I wanted him to know he wasn’t alone and wanted to soften the transition, but I had no idea what to do.

As I sat with him, coworkers quietly scurried to put up tarps to encourage privacy.

And eventually they joined me in comforting him.

We held him until he passed.

At the same time I heard a birthday celebration in the pavilion, I saw the cow run to the fence to check on his friend, I heard kids laughing at baby goats, pigs snorting for food, and nature continued to unravel.

Birds chirping, water moving, bugs flying, sun beaming, clouds shifting.

All while I sat in the presence of death. 

Time stood still as life carried on. 

Dakota wasn’t my horse but he was in my care for the last 2.5 years.

My daughter and I groomed him, we rode him, she played on his back and under his belly.

He loved Liana and was always so gentle and patient with her. We learned about cancer, how it affects horses, and helped him to heal from the removal of his left eye.

I cried on his shoulder when JoJo died because I felt his sadness over a lost friend.

And following his death I mourned with Julie, Dakotas bonded partner, who has been calling out for him since he passed.

Dakota didn’t trust me when I first started working there, he used to run from me whenever I tried to catch him to bring him into the barn.

But on that morning when he let out one final, gentle whinny I felt his love and his trust.

We’ve come a long way together and I’ll be forever thankful for our time with him.  

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