Darby is going to go over the Rainbow Bridge on Tuesday.
It sounds abrupt. In a way, it is abrupt. She has been doing so well this winter, so much better than I had anticipated. I thought she might pull through the whole thing. I marveled at how well she was getting around.
Really tragically, something happened while I was on vacation that tilted the scale in the opposite direction. Future Hubs was here with the horses while I was away in California for a few days - I had set out enough hay to last the horses through the entirety of the vacation, but he was under instruction to keep an eye on everyone and to fill water troughs. He is not a horse person and hardly knows anything about them, but he does recognize when things are wrong and can identify what to do. And I will preface this story with the fact that I am in no way angry or upset with him for what happened. It really was an accident and I am not mad.
On Saturday the hoses outside froze in the morning, so he couldn't fill troughs. The horses had water but the water did need filling, so he fretted about it all day long and when he arrived home after work (in the dark, at night), he went to fill them right away. He noticed one of the horses (which actually was Darby) was lying down and not getting up. He fretted some more, then decided to go into their pasture to check on her. He promptly wiped out about 10 times in the mud near the gate, but Darby did get up and was fine. When he left, he didn't full latch the gate. It really was a truthful accident.
Well, naturally all of the horses got out overnight. I don't know how he didn't hear Dylan trumpeting and freaking out all night (because surely he was), but the amount of poo and damage to our yard was proof that they were out there for quite a long time, probably all night. Our front gate is closed and locked at night, so nobody got off the property or anything, but they did gorge themselves on our fresh green lawn grass all night long. Poor Future Hubs came outside at 5am to find the mares all over the place. He managed to get all of them back into their field by some miracle - he chased the mules in, and led everybody else with a rope around their necks, including the baby... good baby! - and then went off to work.
I got home from California at 2am and gave everyone more hay, then inspected the damage. The yard is largely destroyed, poo everywhere, Dylan is covered in bite marks on his neck from where he probably was enticing the mares over the fence and getting strongly rebuked, Zuul's panels were all askew, Darby's blanket was completely off and stomped into the mud. And Darby was absolutely crippled.
A whole night of fresh green grass after living in what is essentially a total drylot for a chronic founder case is not a good thing. In fact, it's the worst thing.
I really am not mad at Future Hubs. It was really and truly an accident and could have happened to anyone. All he was trying to do was check on the horses because he was worried about them, and he made a mistake which totally backfired. How can I be angry at him for that?
So, I decided this was it. I had already said I wasn't going to go through heroics to try and salvage this poor old creature who has already suffered so much throughout her whole life if anything else happened to her. Especially with her, I don't want her to suffer unduly. I don't want to make her go through anything else, because she's already had more than a lifetime's worth of suffering and she didn't deserve any of it. What she does deserve it to be let go with her dignity.
Everyone deals with these things differently. Everyone approaches these situations differently. Somebody else might do a whole bunch of heroics to try and get her through this and give her more time. Others wouldn't have even given her the time that I did. I don't think either of them are wrong, and I don't think I am wrong either. I promised her when I brought her home that I wasn't going to put her through anything more. And I stand by that promise today.
On Tuesday, she'll be put in the yard to eat as much grass as she likes. She'll get cookies, and snacks, and any food she wants. She'll be brushed and scratched, the way she likes. And then she'll be put to rest here at our farm, and then taken to be buried next to Gogo. Because after a lifetime of suffering, and pain, and starvation, and hardships, she deserves it. She deserves every bit of it.
The hardest part for me was finally making the decision. So many times over the past eight months that she has been mine, I have fretted and worried and tried to decide if it was time. Over and over, it seemed like it might be time soon, but it wasn't. I feel strongly now that this really is it, and in that I have peace.
I dearly love my old mare. She just called to me from the moment I first laid eyes on her, and she worked her way right into my heart. To have suffered so much, and still be so kind and gentle and easy and sweet - it just says so much about her. Everyone always wants to know, why did I bring home a crippled old creature? Why did I want to spend time and money on this useless old nag? I can't tell you why I did it logically, because there is no logic in it. I did it because she called to me, and I knew in my heart I could not let this old horse starve and die alone and forgotten. I did it because I wanted her to know, at least for a little while, what it felt like to be loved. And I would do it all over again.