I can’t begin to tell you how depressing the last week has been. First, our sweet old mare, Madi, lay down for a rest in the warm winter sun and discovered that she couldn’t get up again. She didn’t look sick at all, she just looked like a horse resting in the sun. But every time she tried to get her legs back underneath her, to push herself up she just flopped over. I called the equine vet and described the problem. He said he would come but he warned me that the prognosis is not good for a twenty-five year old horse that can’t get up. I was heartbroken. I waited with her. I took her water and set up a shade sail for her because it was a weirdly hot day. The vet came and diagnosed heart failure associated with old age. He said it had probably started around Christmas time and that it was a slow process, but there was nothing he could do. He said there could have been a number of triggers, so we’ll never know the exact cause but it’s very common in horses her age. He had a professional but empathetic approach and it seemed to me that he really didn’t want to do it. He kept patting her and saying “you don’t want to go, do you old girl?” He apologised to her repeatedly, saying “sorry old girl, there’s nothing else I can do for you.” I just scratched her neck, weeping quietly. She wasn’t scared while he was examining her. But as soon as he went to the truck to get the equipment for the fatal injection, I burst into tears and she started to tremble. She trembled the whole time, and I thought, she knows.
The unicorn without a horn…
When Bee was twelve we decided that she was ready for the responsibility of a horse of her own. She’d had lots of lessons and was a confident rider. We bought Madi from a local horse riding school. She was a sweet, spirited horse who was always ready for an adventure. Madi was not a spring chicken when we bought her but she was very healthy. She had just completed her last race as an endurance racehorse, she was sixteen years old and she came third in an eighty kilometre race against much younger horses.
She was Bee’s beloved first horse, and then, when Bee outgrew her, she became Izzy’s horse. Izzy rode her until the last couple of years when she started to spend more time in town with her high school friends, and Madi started to prefer a quiet life in the paddock.
Maddi was part of our family for nine years and we will miss her gentle presence.
So, that all happened on Thursday, and Pattie the goat started to go downhill on the same day. Up until Thursday, Pattie had been eating and drinking normally but still scouring. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I spent hours with her patting her and keeping her hydrated, consulting with the vet in Lismore, worming her and administering anti-biotics. She started to improve on the morning that she started the antibiotics. I was so pleased. I called my neighbour, Noel (who has had many goats and came over a few time to give me advice) to let him know that she was getting better. She was nibbling on chaff and grass, her stools had improved and she was drinking water and electrolyte mix. Unfortunately, that night she went into labour and died sometime through the night. Maybe she was too weak to push. I feel sad, drained and angry all at the same time.
Throughout this whole episode, I missed Etienne’s pragmatism. He would have handled it all a lot more objectively. He would have wormed her, made her a bed of straw, hydrated her, and then, knowing there was nothing else he could do, he would have said “she’ll either make it or she won’t,” at which point he would have got on with the business of running the farm. That’s not how I operate. I was completely consumed by trying to care for her. I could hardly even bring myself to eat. Izzy was very helpful with cleaning and meals while I spent hours cross-legged beside her fragile frame, with her head resting on feebly on my knee, gently patting her.
Now that she is gone, I’ve put Candy in with Other Lambie so that both pregnant mummas can be together. That’s all I can manage for this week’s post. xx