Among The Stars - Part 6 of 8
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   10th Mar 2019   •   2,006 views   •   0 comments
Among The Stars

It was unbearable... The whole thing... Every second, worse than the last."

One of the first things they ask you in the ER is to rate your pain on a scale from one to ten. I've been asked this question hundreds of times. And I remember once when I couldn't catch my breath and it felt like my chest was on fire, the nurse asked me to rate my pain. Though I couldn't speak, I held up nine fingers.

Later, when I started feeling better, the nurse came in and called me a fighter. "You know how I know?" she said. "You called a ten a nine." But that wasn't the truth. I didn't call it a nine because I was brave. The reason I called it a nine was because I was saving my ten. And this was it... This was the great and terrible ten.”
- Hazel Grace Lancaster, The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

We loved our perfect Moo. The thought of losing him - it never even crossed our minds. It was one of those things too terrible to think that it might ever happen to you. One of those ‘I can’t even imagine what it would be like’ things. He was my everything. My ticket to all my goals. My hopes and dreams. My best friend and partner and, considering all he’d achieved with my training, he was my pride and joy in every sense. My greatest accomplishment. My magnum opus.

What I had turned Moo into made me believe in myself; made me feel like I was worth something.

Every time I saw a picture of him doing his thing, saw his name on leaderboards, I would glow with pride. He was a project almost 8 years in the making. I’ll say it again; he was everything to me. My life revolved around him. Moo was simply not the sort of thing a person can lose. It’s not fair. To have to let go of something that means so much to you, that you’ve poured so much love and dedication into, that you have such big plans for. To say goodbye to someone who has been your partner and inspiration; your solace in hard times, and your bringer of good times. Nobody should have to go through something like that. But at some point we all do.

I did.

And to tell you ‘my heart is broken’ is the biggest understatement I can imagine. How do you even describe a loss of this magnitude? Honestly I don’t know. I don’t. But I’m going to try, because I’m sick of people trying to paint a pretty picture of loss. I’m sick of hearing “he’s in a better place”, and “at least he didn’t suffer”, and “it could have been so much worse”. There’s no silver lining here. This isn’t some ‘glass half empty’ scenario. The glass is broken.

Shattered. Gone.

There’s absolutely nothing that can be said, thought, or done to make the situation any less utterly horrible than it is. It’s time somebody talked about what it’s really like, in all its ugly, raw, tearful honesty. Guys, it sucks. There’s no silver lining. There’s no way to make it feel any better. It just plain sucks.

On 17 February 2018, Moo did his last event. We entered a local 1m - not an important show, just ‘for the run’. Moo was sound and strong, and in perfect health. He had not been going great that week - but that’s just horses. They have good days and bad ones. In the dressage he didn’t quite feel like himself. Not that anything was ‘wrong’ - just that he was a little unfocused and jittery, and not up to his usual standard. I wasn’t worried, but thought that maybe he could use a visit from the chiropractor, or get some extra faradic treatment to work out some kinks. In the cross country warm up, my worries disappeared. There was nothing Moo loved more than cross country, and that day, he felt like he always did.

Keen. Focused. Flying.

It was an easy course for him, so I let him pick his rhythm and didn’t push him. He cruised around, ears pricked, locking on, and popping over everything in his path without falter. Riding Moo cross country felt like watching someone hum and skip on their way to work. He loved every moment of his job, and I loved sharing that with him.

Among The Stars

The 4th-to-last jump on the track was a combination - a drop down on a related line to a skinny. He took the drop normally, had a bit of a funny stride, and as usual made a plan to get over the skinny. It didn’t feel like a terribly awkward jump, but he landed a little strangely. I thought maybe the hill was unbalancing him, and he had just gone disunited. It wasn’t unusual for him to fail to fix himself right away, so we went on to the next jump and popped over; I figured he’d fix himself on landing. He still didn’t, and when we took the corner into the 2nd last jump, I got a bit concerned. Something definitely felt off. I figured maybe he tweaked something over the skinny, but we were approaching the last jump, heading towards the cooldown, and he was still happy, locking on, and jumping clean. I let him take the last slowly, let my watch beep as we went through the finish, and we cantered once around the cooldown before slowing to a trot like we always do. His trot felt different. Stiff. Like he was dragging a back leg - but not quite unsound. Somebody at the cooldown asked me how it went, and I answered that is went great, but added, “is he moving okay?

She told me to get off, so I did. I took Moo’s reins over his head and asked him to walk on, and he just froze. At first I thought maybe he was just having one of his stubborn moments, and I clucked at him and pulled again, but still no response. He reached his neck out toward me, but his legs looked frozen. Almost trembling. I was getting scared. Was he tying up? Had he pinched a nerve again? Whatever it was, I knew the best thing for him was to walk, so I pulled, I clucked, tapped his shoulder, trying to get him to step toward me. Suddenly, he went rigid, and toppled over sideways - just fell, straight onto his side.

Among The Stars
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