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Among The Stars - Part 7 of 8
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   17th Mar 2019   •   2,167 views   •   0 comments
Among The Stars

I screamed. I started gasping ‘what’s happening’, and automatically untangled his legs from the rope boundary of the cooldown where he’d collapsed. People started rushing over while I just kept hysterically repeating ‘what’s happening? Oh my God what’s happening?’ They started bringing over that awful, dreaded white tent. The one they put around dying horses at shows to shield them from onlookers.

I heard somebody say ‘He’s dying’.

And I just started sobbing hysterically. I was howling. Screaming. Simultaneously thinking ‘it can’t be’, and ‘my God, this is actually happening’. I told myself they must be wrong. He just couldn’t get enough air. Or he needed water, or something. They were dumping water on him. He was going to get up again. But I kept howling. People pushed me away. My mom hugged me and started walking me back towards the car, saying ‘It will be fine, the vets are with him, they’re looking after him, just calm down’. I was shaking, stumbling, muttering weakly, ‘No, I have to see him. I have to say goodbye’. I think my mom first thought that I was just panicking. That I was being dramatic. I kinda thought I was too. It couldn’t be possible. A healthy horse that has just blazed around a cross country can’t just die for no reason. You can’t have something so important, so unbelievably precious to you that can disappear so suddenly, so unexpectedly.

Then my instructor appeared. She has always been Moo’s ‘second mom’ (and mine too), and his owner on paper. She wasn’t planning to be at the event that day, but at the last minute found some free time and got there just in time to see Moo’s round. She told me, ‘You can come say goodbye, but you need to be calm. Moo needs you to be calm’, and I immediately shut up, like someone had flipped a switch and turned off my hysterics. I sniffed and sobbed and hiccuped while she lead me over to Moo. I knelt next to his head, and for minutes that felt like an eternity, I just stroked his mane, and cried, and whispered, ‘Please, Moo. Please.’ I kept willing some colour to go into his gums. For him to move an ear. To blink. But he just lay there, staring, until his pulse disappeared.

The vet tapped his eye, and that was it. He died in my lap. That moment is burned into my memory. That tap - and no blink. The moment it was really, really real. Just like that, in less than five minutes, my entire life came crashing down around me. I had to leave that day without my best friend. I wouldn’t go work on that bad dressage test the week after the show. I wouldn’t see him waiting for me in his paddock when I got to the yard. I’d never get to dodge his bites and call him a sausage, scold him for chasing the chickens, or fend off those vicious carrot-kisses. We would never get to do that first 2 star. We would never reach the top ranked eventing spot. He was only 11. For 8 years we had trained together, grown together, loved each other. For 8 years I poured my heart and soul, all my time, all my effort into turning Moo into the champion I knew he was. And I loved every minute.

I wanted so many more minutes.

Because it happened at a show, right in front of everyone, I didn’t have so much as a second to be in denial about it. I was getting messages asking what happened, or saying ‘I’m so sorry’, before I’d even told anyone. Everyone at the show came up to me and hugged me. The community and show organisers were incredible, and handled the situation with efficiency and compassion and so much care, but as much as I appreciate that, and I do, I have to admit that the biggest part of me honestly couldn’t care less. I didn’t want to say ‘thank you’ to hundreds of people who were sorry for my loss. I didn’t want to be grateful that ‘at least it didn’t happen out on the trail’, ‘at least you weren’t alone’, ‘at least he didn’t fall on top of you’. Honestly, I wished he had fallen on top of me. I wished I could have died with him before living through losing him. Some days I still do.

There were so many messages sending sympathies. Trying to make me feel better with things like ‘time will heal’, ‘he’s in a better place’, or ‘think of the good times, he will be remembered’. I’ve never believed in Heaven, and even if I did, a ‘better place’ is not where I wanted my best friend and partner to be. I want him to be with me. Flying around the cross country again. Galloping tackless down the beach. Chasing me out of his paddock with bared teeth. There’s really nothing anybody can say to make it ‘better’. It can’t be better. It’s the worst. Just knowing that each person has thought of you is enough - the words themselves are empty.

Among The Stars
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