Time of Silver Grace - My walk with Gracie
Gracie's registered name was Time of Silver Grace. She was my beautiful gray Tennessee walking horse mare who died today at age 22. She had been sick for about a week, we had the horse vet out a couple of times, took her to the vets to stay overnight, tried to monitor and comfort her. It was complicated but essentially she was colicking for a week. Her colon was blocked and toxicity levels were increasing.
It was a difficult decision, but when you see your beloved horse in pain and no recovery is in sight, it seems most humane to let them go peacefully.
I am glad we were able to bring her back to the ranch to die. Last night she actually rallied and snickered and practically pulled us into the horse trailer so she could get home. She was lively, eating grass, snickered when she heard me come down the alleyway of the vet clinic. They said this was the best she had been all day. She wanted to come home. We trailered her home last night and put her daughter Dixie in the arena with her and they nuzzled and happily spent the rest of the day and evening together.
The painkillers had given her some added time with us and her herd. She was sooo alive it made me hope that perhaps she could still pull through this. And of course we prayed for her to recover and for easing of pain.
But this morning saw a rapid decline and she was laying down in pain and discomfort in the arena. It was moving and bonding to have her leaning her neck against me as she sat on the ground with me standing beside her caressing and consoling her. It is such an unnatural state. Always they are towering over you and their mass takes up so much room next to you. Today she was so small and fragile on the ground with me towering above her trying to make myself small.
What does it feel like to lead your beloved mare to her grave-site to be euthanized? Very mixed emotions, for sure. On one level it feels like you are taking her on a death march with me crying uncontrollably and she is just trusting, trusting, not afraid..... She doesn't know what is coming up.
On another level, it is a companionable moment of trust and familiarity as we walk the familiar trail we have taken hundreds of times before. We pass the familiar trees and logs and current set of wildflowers. We take the bridle path to the pet cemetery where Lonesome and Lucy now reside. I thought my mare Peppi at age 31 would be next. I didn't expect vibrant Gracie at 22 to be the next hole to be dug.
I had the pleasure of riding Gracie several days a week up until a week ago. She was my most athletic mare and one of the smartest. She was a willing worker, trusted me and I will truly miss her. We had many adventures and experiences together. We had encountered bear, mountain lion, moose, elk, deer, skunk, owls, eagles, grouse, squirrels...many animals and birds just waiting to dart out and startle us or chase us up the hill like two young curious bear cubs did!!! We more than survived these encounters largely because Gracie would respond to my cues and we could calmly encounter each situation thrown at us.
I have connected more with my horses than with any dogs or cats I have owned. For me, there is a sense of being a team and connection as you ride along together having the same experiences. You are connected in mind and body. It is a special closeness. You can read them and know how they feel through the close contact you have with their body. You feel their shivers, their twitches, their relaxing glides. And you can influence how calm they are by how calmly you sit and react in the close contact English saddle. You are an extension of each other. They are very strong and if they wanted to disobey and take off with you, they could totally ignore you and run off right through the mild bit they hold to aid in direction. They want to please and obey and connect. They trust you and overcome fears with your help because they trust you.
So is it a sad day for me? yes, of course, incredibly so. But it has been a privilege to have been able to connect and ride such a lovely horse. She was a truly wonderful gift and creation. I am really hoping there are horses in heaven or maybe the winged variety like Pegasus.... Good Bye my little big Gracie. May we yet have a time of silver grace together in heaven.