The Beginning of the End

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Over the years I’ve gotten very comfortable listening to my intuitive voice.  I mostly know when its just fear talking to me as opposed to intuition giving me much needed guidance. This past year when I had to euthanize my beloved mare Lotta, that little voice came in to guide me once again.

What really struck me when my intuition guided me to let her go before the unbearable pain started for her, was that with out all of the horses and people who left before her, I would not have been able to hear, understand and execute what needed to be done.

One of the skills I honed while running my ranch was the ability to “know” the outcome of an illness when it came to rehabbing the horses.  When a horse would show up and get off the trailer I would always hear exactly what was to come of them.  The words were always short but clear.

The first time I heard and fully understood that my intuition was speaking to me, I heard the words “she wont be staying long” as a beautiful and heavily pregnant pmu mare stepped off the trailer and onto my property.  I was horrified and confused.  My first inclination was to ignore those words, put them out of my mind and pretend I didn’t know.  But the universe did what the universe does.  In the next few seconds as I am working to clear my mind of what I just heard, the cowboy who was delivering the mare, walked past me, mare in hand, looked directly at me and said “this one won’t stay long”.  He didn’t break stride as his words flowed into my awareness.  I knew then it was the beginning of the end for this mare.  I didn’t know the why or how on that day, but I understood it would be coming.  One year later the mare died, by her own choice and on her terms.  She left behind her baby of six months old.

It was so clear after seeing the whole thing from beginning to end that the mare’s goal was to leave that baby safely here.  In a life that would fit that baby as the baby had never known anything else. But the mare had known a very different life, a life she didn’t want to leave.  An equine family of huge origin, 1000’s of acres to roam on and live with her family in relative peace.  The life she had come to here, on our ranch was no comparison to the life she had left behind.  She literally stayed long enough to make sure her baby was ok and then she exited the picture.  Just as my intuition had informed me and as the cowboy had confirmed.

This first fully conscious intuitive incident had set the framework for a new and more expanded understanding of this little voice in my head.

I remember feeling somewhat tense the afternoon of June 6th 2015.  It was the day that the beginning of the end started in earnest.

That afternoon I was watching the rambunctious ranch geldings, Sam, Bode and Skip playing and running in the arena.  In the middle of the arena stood their owners.  The horses made their rounds at high speed as they had done so many times before, stopping for the occasional bout of rearing and biting one and other.  I didn’t know exactly why I was tense that day but I did know I would find out soon.  I was hoping it was something harmless and unrelated to the geldings play.

It’s always in the moments after the incident, what ever that may be, that the understanding of the feeling, in this case – tension- fully becomes illuminated.  In many ways understanding feelings that precede any incident, change, etc. is allot like learning a new language – an intuitive language.

Sadly the brand of tension that I felt on that day will forever be marked in my private mental dictionary.  Specific brand of tension = very sad outcome.

On the last lap around the arena as the horses moved toward a hard right turn and past their owners who were standing in the middle arena, the horses sped up instead of slowing down.   I held my breath as I heard the voice of Sam’s person say to her horse, slow down….not so fast…..  As her words still hung in the air, the horses rounded the corner and Sam slipped and fell down hard.

We all heard a loud crack.  Sam popped up onto all fours but was obviously very injured and obviously very much in shock.  As I moved toward the arena gate he stood next to his owner as the others in the arena gathered the running horses.  His owner said she heard the crack and was afraid it was a bone.  I knew the audible crack was actually him landing on the lunge whip that had been propped up against the fence but I also knew that he was in fact broken beyond repair.

The little intuitive voice said to me in those calm, quiet and often in these cases, disconcerting words – “It’s over”.  I was crushed.  “Its over” – I wanted to wonder what it meant but I knew. I felt deep in my being that it meant it was all over.  Not just Sam’s life but the life of the ranch where we both lived.  It was all over.

Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful for this knowing that comes to me.  Because it says things I don’t want to hear, I don’t really want to know and that I certainly don’t want to believe!

As we waited for the vet, the owner’s boyfriend asked me how bad it was.  I said it’s very bad.  “It’s over”.  He didn’t understand why I would say that and I can understand why he wouldn’t understand.  It’s taken me years, 49 to be exact to “know” what that little voice means.

In my early years I would hear the intuitive guidance but I would often choose to ignore it.  Then the outcome would occur anyway and I would be somewhat to very displeased but in the back of my mind I would be saying to myself, you knew this, why didn’t you act on that.

Of course the answer to that was because action on intuitive guidance with out proof takes an extraordinary amount of faith and understanding.  In my younger years I simply didn’t have that much faith or understanding.  I was still learning.  I am still learning.  Gratefully the lesson to not ignore that little voice is deeply embedded in me now.  I don’t know how much easier it makes things for me but I do understand it when I hear it or at the least I understand to listen to it.

Sam would survive two more months before it became clear to his person there was no hope what so ever of his recovery.

During the two months that Sam was alive after his accident I was becoming very aware that my ranch life as I had known it was also coming to an end but I kept that awareness somewhat buried deep inside.  I didn’t share that information with too many people.  Mostly because I didn’t really want it to be true.  I had always known that when the last original horse to this ranch left my life in their death that the ranch as we all had known it, would be done.  During 2015 we lost almost as many horses as had been lost in the whole ranches history of being open.  Three of those horses were originals to my ranch.

Several days before Sam was scheduled to be euthanized.  My personal and most beloved horse, Lotta began acting oddly.  She was off.  I assumed she was just reacting to the state of Sam and his impending exit from his body and of course reacting to my own distraught state of being.  I guess what I’m saying is I didn’t think she was ill.  I just thought she was reflecting me and the events surrounding all of us at the ranch.

On the first day Lotta was off it was just that she wasn’t herself.  On the second day, first thing in the morning when I went out to feed I found her lying down.  Not thrashing or sweaty or upset just laying there and looking up at me.  I felt a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach as I approached her and then I heard that little voice.  It said “2 for 1”.  I was almost outraged that the voice would say something so seemingly callous.  I didn’t fully understand what 2 for 1 meant but I did understand that Sam was scheduled to be euthanized so did this mean Lotta would go at the same time?? That just didn’t seem possible or real on any level.  The intuitive voice was ever so slightly confusing for the first time in a long while.

As the day proceeded my mare got sicker and sicker.  She would not eat or drink and could not poop.  It was particularly surreal to watch her go thru this knowing what the little voice had said to me.  She wasn’t happy but she wasn’t in extreme pain either.  She wasn’t really even agitated except for a few minutes here and few minutes there.  I had my vet out to see if there was anything he could do.  He administered the usual protocol, fluids, anti inflammatories and a pain killer.  He was very hopeful because her heart rate was not indicating that she was in great pain.  He said no food until she poops and added “I think she’ll be fine”.  We hugged and he left.  I wanted so badly to believe his words! Maybe “2 for 1” meant something all together different than what I was thinking. I hoped.

The following day many people stopped by the ranch to say goodbye to Sam.  His euthanasia was scheduled for next morning.  The people who stopped by to say goodbye to Sam were surprised to see Lotta in the round pen next to Sam.  Most seemed to think that Lotta would pull out of it, that she would be just fine.  It was strange to me on some level to hear these words from others but then I reminded myself that being able to see this level of exit was not something most people are very interested in or maybe more accurately they could see it, they might even have known what I knew but no one seemed to want to verbalize it.  I knew she wasn’t fine.  She was leaving, I could feel it.

As the hours ticked by that day and that night I felt her impending departure getting stronger and stronger.  I prayed for her to change her mind.  I offered everything I had to help her shift the circumstances but she was steadfast.  She was leaving me.

On the morning of Sam’s departure, while we waited for the vet to arrive, I stood in the round pen crying and hugging my mare.  She was still externally quiet but now her heart rate was raging.  Despite the constant flow of pain meds the pain of what was happening inside her body was beginning to take over.

When the vet arrived he said to me how is Lotta? He fully expected for me to say that she was fine.  I shocked him when I burst into tears and said she’s not ok at all.  She’s leaving me.  We decided to go check on Lotta first before we went to help Sam pass.

It was clear within the next few minutes what Lotta’s fate would be that day.  The look on the vets face said it all but just so I understood fully he added the words “I’m so sorry I really didn’t think it was going to go this way”.  Her intestines were restricted beyond hope.  Her heart rate was now sky high.  He said I really don’t see any hope here and he expressed his own disbelief of her current state.  He administered a stronger dose of IV pain medication to make sure her last minutes with on earth were as comfortable as they could be.

He said it was very surprising to him that she wasn’t thrashing around given her heart rate and level of extreme compaction and distention. I thought about his words and it seemed quite clear to me.  She didn’t need to thrash around for me to understand.  I didn’t require that level of communication from her to understand her situation.  Had this occurred 10 years ago or so, she would have needed to thrash around for me to understand her pain and her next step.  But that was then and this was now.  I knew this would be the outcome when I had heard those words “2 for 1” four days earlier.  Lotta and I had understood all of this from the first sad moment it had been communicated. It was just a matter of a few days to say goodbye to friends and allow the end to settle in.

The whole experience that morning was one of the most surreal experiences of this life time to date.  The vet helped Sam cross over first while I sat on my front lawn with Lotta watching her sleepily & quietly nibble at some grass.  Then the vet made his way over to us and he helped Lotta cross over. It was very quick.  She left immediately.  I have witnessed and assisted in more than my fair share of euthanasia’s this life time.  Lotta and Sam’s were both incredibly fast.  Almost instant.  It rarely happens quite that quickly.  The whole thing was just unbelievable in so many ways.  In just 15 minutes time the two cornerstones of my ranch, my oldest equine friends at this time, exited my life.

I sat with Lotta on the lawn as the procession of other horses at the ranch came to say their final goodbyes.  Baby Dahlia, whose mother had left her so many years before came to see Lotta and say goodbye.  Baby Shadow, who had been Lotta’s surrogate baby for many years and later her paddock mate, came to say goodbye.  As each horse passed by us my sobs slowly degenerated to a numb and odd humming inside of me. My body vibrating with change and my mind reeling with the words “2 for 1”.  Those words seemed so cold.  I hadn’t shared the words used to express this horrible knowing with anyone yet, not even my husband. It felt terrible even uttering those words.  I knew there was a good reason for those words to be used and that soon I would be comforted by hearing them ( I hoped )  but at that this moment it was hard to conceive what that reason could possibly be.

As I write this today I can no longer remember who said those words to me, a friend? My husband? Or maybe the young man who arrived at the ranch to pick up Lotta and Sam’s bodies.  I was sitting next to Lotta, holding my check book in hand because even in death life doesn’t stop.  A check would need to be written to cover the cost of their removal.  When I asked what the amount was, someone said the amount aloud and then added that there was a discount because this was a “2 for 1”.

I can’t adequately describe what I felt as I heard those words come out of someone’s mouth in regards to Lotta and Sam.  It was a mixture of horror and deep knowing that I done the right thing.  I had been able to use the voice to help me help her before she got so painful and so sick that it was a traumatic end.  Because of those words I knew what to do and hearing those words after the fact sadly validated that I had done what I was supposed to do.   A mixture of knowing, sadness, gratitude and horror all wrapped up together.

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