Our story started on April 9th of 2010. I was working for a barn in Quebec, riding horses. The barn was newer and they were trying to find some quiet school horses as they wanted to concentrate more on offering therapeutic riding lessons. One afternoon, we went to visit a barn down the road who was supposed to have the perfect school horse for us… They didn’t. But in the field with that horse was a donkey-looking thing. The owner of the barn told us she had just rescued this horse from the auction 2 weeks before and still could not get a halter on her– let alone approach her. She explained how she’d been abused at a younger age and didn’t trust anybody, especially men. Gypsy (what an ugly name right!) was only 5. The tips of her ears had been frost-bitten off, and her left front knee was badly damaged, making her walk look horrifying. I felt bad for her, but also thought she was so cute with her little mouse ears and sweetest looking eyes. I took a few steps towards her–she walked a few steps away from me–but then let me come close. I was able to touch her all over and even get a halter on. Right then and there, without thinking twice or what my parents might say, I decided, “she’s coming with me, I AM NOT leaving her here”. So I put her on the trailer and to the barn we went. On the drive back is when I decided to change that god awful name and called her Miss.. Ok, it might not unique but it’s way better than Gypsy! She stayed at the barn I was working at in Quebec for about 3 weeks. Living 20 minutes east of Ottawa, I wanted her closer to home so I brought her to a lovely private barn in Russell, Ontario. She didn’t really know how to lead and didn’t fully trust me yet but this horse was not as crazy as that lady made her out to be. Maybe it was faith, maybe she felt it in her heart that she would never be hurt again. Maybe she had chosen me to be her person. Her first day in Russell I put her out in the big green field right away. She ran so freely for 15 minutes non-stop with her new friends. You could truly see the happiness in her eyes.
I knew she’d never be my next show horse, and that I probably wouldn’t be able to ride her like every other horse, but I still didn’t want to give up on her or let her go. So I decided to breed her. Found the best looking stud and dropped her off for summer camp, if you know what I mean 😉 June 22nd of 2012 the cutest little baby was born, looking exactly like her mother and had the same sweet eyes. It really was the best gift she could have given me.
As the years went by, the bond between us got stronger than ever and the trust she had in me was unbreakable. She had truly become my best friend, my shoulder to lean on when things weren’t going well.
Last winter, on one of those really cold days, I got a phone call from my friend who was working at the barn at the time. Miss couldn’t walk…. I rushed to the barn after work. We thought maybe she got kicked or somehow got hurt playing in the field. We gave her some Bute hoping that she would feel better the next day. After 2 days on Bute, she was thankfully back to her old self! About a month later the same thing happened — Poor girl couldn’t walk again. I finally decided to call the vet as I knew it couldn’t be an accident AGAIN. The vet came out, said he could take some x-rays but was positive it was arthritis as they had warned me when I first got her that she would most likely get arthritis pretty young. I never thought this young… Knowing she wasn’t ever going to be ridden because of her bad knee, we decided that a daily dose of Previcox was the best option for her. The winter flew by, summer came and she seemed happy and pain free, to the point where she would trot and sometimes even canter to the fence when she saw me coming and that was rare for my big mama!
Towards the end of the summer I started hearing on the news (and all the silly Facebook posts) that winter was going to be a rough one this year, cold and a lot of snow. At that point I started asking myself, “How long will this drug work for? Will she be able to live the rest of her life on this without any more episodes like last winter? Will she even make it through winter?” I promised her she would never be in pain again. Was I going to break that promise without even realizing it because I was only thinking about myself and wanted her around forever? I spoke to my horsey friends, my trainer, and my family to get their point of view on the situation and their answers to my questions. Do I act selfish and keep her around for the winter hoping that everything will be ok? Or, do I make the decision to put her down and avoid her ever being in any pain? After crying myself to sleep for a few weeks, and going back and forth on my decision, I asked my barn owner, if I was to put her down would I be able to bury her on their property. Without any hesitation, she and her husband said yes. That’s when I knew I was as okay as I could be with my decision. I grew the courage and called the vet to make an appointment. I wasn’t ready yet, so I booked the appointment for November 18th. I had a good 2 months of spending the most time with her as possible and taking in every moment.
November 18th came… the sun was shining and it was warm. I spent all day with her, taking photos with both my girls and getting in as many nose kisses as I could. I made her the biggest bowl of goodies: apples, mints, carrots, bran, oats, molasses, sweet feed topped with some yummy frosted flakes. She slurped it up like we had starved her for months. 4:30pm came and the vet showed up, we walked her to her favorite spot in the field — yes the same field she had been in for over 6 years amazing years. Everyone that loved us was there to support us. The vet did her work and Miss went down with the most grace. I like to believe that the way she went down was her way of telling me that she was okay with it, and understood why I was doing it. As she laid there so peacefully, I hugged her, kissed her nose… soaking up her unique smell. I said my final goodbyes thinking to myself, “how will I go on without her? Did I make the right decision? Will she hold it against me? Will she no longer love me?” I was so scared that I would never feel that bond we had again. I buried her there, in her favorite spot, with a note and her daughter’s first horseshoe in hopes that she will bring us luck.
The following days were harder than I could have ever imagined. My forever horse was gone way too soon. I kept doubting myself, thinking I made a mistake. I visited her every single day, and I still do. I don’t miss a day. If I could, I’d spend every day, all day at the barn. I feel her there with me. I can talk to her, it really is where I feel closest to her. I know I made the right decision. I wasn’t selfish and put her well-being before mine. It doesn’t make things easier, or make me miss her less but knowing that I kept my promise and knowing she will never be in pain again makes my heart feel a little better. My forever horse might not be physically with me anymore, but will forever be in my heart ❤