This is the post I never wanted to write.
I’ve started and deleted it a number of times, because there’s no good way to say that Gypsy – my first mustang, my war mare – is gone. (For those that don’t know her, I wrote about her here.)
She was in her twenties and had been showing signs of what I assumed was mild arthritis, but she came out of the winter in good shape. She started exhibiting severe separation anxiety, but she’d lived her entire life in a herd, so I couldn’t blame her for being upset at suddenly getting left alone.
And then, on Mother’s Day, I found her in obvious distress. Her back was tight, abdomen cramped, steps short and uneven – left stifle obviously swollen. I hoped it was a soft tissue injury that might improve with rest and bute, but her condition deteriorated drastically over the next couple of days. Her resting heart rate, the last day, jumped from her usual 32 bpm to 68 bpm and she quit eating. She was basically breaking down in front of me, and though it broke my heart to do it, I had to say goodbye.
In retrospect, what I took to be mild arthritis in her hocks must have been more serious. She was a range-bred mustang who spent at least 8 years in the wild, so hiding pain was instinctive. I wonder now if this partly explains her separation anxiety, too. We think she took a bad step or slipped in mud and, maybe because her hocks were compromised, her stifle took the brunt of the force and couldn’t compensate. Her age and temperament probably contributed to the rapid progression of damage, though the vet assured me it could have happened to any horse and the prognosis would have been poor no matter what.
All I know is, she’s gone and the hole she’s left in my heart is too big for words.
My big red mare, in her copper-penny spring coat.
Passing the torch…
I’ll always miss her, though.