Even in the Smokys of Appalachia Western NC there are Bad Times

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Steed Talker Realty is with two hours of Tryon International Equestrian Center and we offer the best properties in the area. 264057

There are bad times and than there are the terrible, horrible, awful, no-good times.  Not much else can be said for the times on the departure of a beloved.  Thursday May 30 began as just another normal day but ended in unexpected grief.

Even inthe Smokys of Appalachia Western NC thee are Bad TimesAt noon on that Thursday I turned Big Mac - Mack for short, my 17'2 hand off the track 19 year old thoroughbred, and Dolly, his companion, into the barn as usual to give them relieve from the sun and the heat.  All appeared normal.  Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  I went about the rest of the day just like most other days. 

When I returned in the evening around five o’clock for feeding, I could see before even entering the barn that this was not going to be just another routine time.  A portion of Mack’s stall wall was knocked down, a sight I’d never seen and a feat requiring enormous force.  My first thought was, “Something out of the ordinary had terrified Mack.”  When I entered the barn, what I found was far worse than a terrified horse.

Mack was lying down in the midst of disheveled stall mats and bedding with eyes full of agony.  As I entered the barn he pulled himself up on very shaky and unstable legs and supported himself by leaning his hind-end against the back wall, looking back at me in utter despair.  With an enormous knot arising in the belly I was flooded with rage, despair, fear, and helplessness. 

A friend and neighbor just happened to be following some distance behind me.  As she entered the barn, being unaware of anything out of the ordinary but seeing my obvious state she asked in a very calm voice, “Is everything alright?” 

Even in the Smokys of Appalachia Western NC there are Bad TimesIn disbelieve at the question with all that was so obviously terribly wrong, I just shook my head and mumble, “no.”

She said, “What?”

I yelled, “No, everything is NOT alright.  Something is terribly wrong with Mack.”

Why people do and say what they do at such times can’t be logically explained.  After a pause and apparently still not grasping the gravity of the situation she said, “Can I give you a hug?”

I yelled back, “NO! I don’t need a hug.  I need at VET!”

She replied, “Is there anything I can do?”

I said, “No!  Please just leave!”

As she turned in dismay and left, I pulled out my cell phone and dialed Mary Coker, Mack’s vet.   The after-hours voice mail picked-up.  I left my urgent message.

I called my very knowledgeable and experienced equine friend, Nory, who lives only about a mile up the road.  Her voice mailed answered. I left my desperate message. 

I assumed the problem was colic.  Colic is a catchall phrase for any kind of equine intestinal trouble, which is always a very big deal. A horses’ small intestine by itself measures about 70 feet.  Mack’s vet estimated that given his size, that his small intestine was more likely around 80 feet  in length. 

Even in the Smokys of Appalachia Western NC there are Bad TimesAs was technically and finally diagnosed, it was indeed an extremely unusual case of colic.  The University of Tennesse surgeon who has been practicing over 30 years said he’d never seen a similar case.  There is a ligament that connects the stomach to the spleen.  Somehow a hole developed in the ligament and Mack’s small intestine had become entangled in the hole, thus blocking the passage.

I had been thinking with gratitude just a few days earlier how fortunate the horses and I had been, in that we had never had to deal with any sort of colic.  From everything I’d ever read or heard about colic there isn’t much that can be done except call the vet and keep the horse walking until the vet arrives.

After gaining his feet and standing a moment Mack appeared able to stand on his own. Having only a vague notion that the problem was probably the dreaded colic, I haltered him and led him out of his stall.  We made a few circles in the yard, then he lay back down in the grass.

About an hour later my friend, Nory, returned the call and hurried down to assist.  Shortly after she arrived, the vet’s assistant returned my call.  The vet was out on another emergency but would come as soon as possible.  About three hours later she arrived and immediately sedated Mack providing minimal relief. 

Thus began an ordeal that ended five days later at the veterinary hospital at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  After a three-hour transport, surgery, and several days of post-op recovery without improvement, the inevitable had to be accepted.

Even in the Smokys of Appalachia Western NC there are Bad TimesThrough sobs and tears I whispered into Mack’s ear telling him that I understood his pain and suffering.  I explained that I was letting him go.  Somehow with the wisdom of horse sense he seemed to understand and accept with relief. 

The vets unhooked the IVs; I dried my eyes, halter Mack, and took him outside for our last walk.  He was sedated and not in terrible pain.  As we walked out into the sunshine he lifted his beautiful proud head, looked around taking in the sunshine and everything in view as if the world could not possibly be a more wonderful place.  We walked to the grass and he grazed a bit, enjoying for the first time in five days the pleasure of eating. 

Several passers by, obviously horse persons themselves and with no ideas as to what was coming, stopped to admire and commented, “He is an exceptionally fine and beautiful horse.” 

I simply nodded and said, “Thank you.”

I can’t count the times I’d heard similar comments.  Whoever came in contact with Mack knew they were in the presence of an unusual and dynamic horse. 

He looked like the perfect picture of health and with every ounce in my body I wished that he were. 

A mother and her infant observed from a short distance.

The mother asked, “Can we come closer?”

I shook my head and said, “Yes.”

The infant transfixed, observed in pleased fascination.

His mother said,  “This is the first horse he has ever seen.”

I just smiled and thought, “The circle of life.”

I wanted the moment to last forever.

We went back into the clinic.  I gave him water, which he drank with relish.  The vets came and we led him to the room where we were going to say goodbye. 

Through sobs I held his head and whispered into his ear, “This is the end of the trail. You are the greatest.  I will always remember you and the terrific times we shared.”

Within seconds after the injection he was down. There wasn't a hint of shock in his eyes.  He had been ready to go. 

I dropped to my knees and buried my face in his silky-soft, warm, and powerful neck.  The river of tears burst forth as I wept uncontrollably.  Out of respect and with tears in their eyes the vets and techs quitely departed the room to leave us together. 

Through the tears and the pain, all I could say was, “Oh Mack.  Ooh Mack, Mack, I’ll forever remember you, my big, beautiful, beloved, gallant bay.” 

Comments (15)

Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Oh Alan, I am so very very sorry. Through tears I write to tell you there are no words and I remember your previous posts about your wonderful friend. so very sorry.

Jun 18, 2013 09:01 PM
Allen Lomax
Steed Talker Realty is with two hours of Tryon International Equestrian Center and we offer the best properties in th... - Sylva, NC
WNC Mountain Homes & Horse Farms Specialists

Thank you Sheila.  Many freinds have reached out with understanding and encouraging. I've spent  a lot of time with Dolly over the last couple of weeks.  It is comforting being in her calm and sturdy presence.  She seems lonely as well so the two of us have shared our grief.  Writing about the event has also been helpful.  I am doing much better and each day gets a bit easier.   

Jun 18, 2013 09:32 PM
Mona Gersky
MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC - Sylva, NC
GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.

Allen, I am so grateful to Sheila for letting me know you'd written about Mack.  I know how important your horses are to you and in particular since Mack was your first horse I cannot even begin to fathom how much pain you are in by telling your longtime friend goodbye and releasing him from his agony.

 

Pet Project Stamp of Approval

Jun 18, 2013 09:40 PM
Allen Lomax
Steed Talker Realty is with two hours of Tryon International Equestrian Center and we offer the best properties in th... - Sylva, NC
WNC Mountain Homes & Horse Farms Specialists

Mona - Thank you for your kind words and thoughts.  It gets beter with each day. 

Jun 19, 2013 02:31 AM
Anonymous
Madeleine Watt

My heart goes out to you.  What a beautiful, beautiful baby. Non animal people don't always understand how much a part of our lives and souls our special babies are.  Thank you for sharing this with us. We are so lucky to have the time we are given with these wonderful creatures. But the pain of loss is so intense. If there is an afterlife we will be with them again. I think anyway. Bet there's just 2 or three total souls who've reincarnated over and over with us just like with people.

Jun 23, 2013 09:25 PM
#5
Anonymous
Madeleine Watt

My heart goes out to you.  What a beautiful, beautiful baby. Non animal people don't always understand how much a part of our lives and souls our special babies are.  Thank you for sharing this with us. We are so lucky to have the time we are given with these wonderful creatures. But the pain of loss is so intense. If there is an afterlife we will be with them again. I think anyway. Bet there's just 2 or three total souls who've reincarnated over and over with us just like with people.

Jun 23, 2013 09:27 PM
#6
Allen Lomax
Steed Talker Realty is with two hours of Tryon International Equestrian Center and we offer the best properties in th... - Sylva, NC
WNC Mountain Homes & Horse Farms Specialists
Madeleine - thank you for your kind words and thoughts. If there is life after this experience, I expect the souls of our other species friends will share it with us. How is your week stacking up?
Jun 23, 2013 10:10 PM
Anonymous
Gary Stamper

Thank you for sharing your pain and your love for Mack. I've helped many of many of my animal family members in their deathing and it's always hard and heartbreaking, and yet, it is also the most loving thing we can do for them when it's time. Thank you for loving Mack. It enhances all of us.

Jun 24, 2013 09:49 PM
#8
Gay E. Rosen
Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty - Larchmont, NY
As Real as Real Estate Gets!

Oh Allan -  you wrote so well about your wonderful friend Mack.  I am so very sorry for your loss.. your bond was so very apparent and he was so lucky to have you as a friend

Jun 26, 2013 12:15 AM
Allen Lomax
Steed Talker Realty is with two hours of Tryon International Equestrian Center and we offer the best properties in th... - Sylva, NC
WNC Mountain Homes & Horse Farms Specialists

Hello Gay -  Thank you for your kind words and thoughs.  We had some wonderful and memorable times.  I do miss him.

Jun 26, 2013 01:23 PM
Elyse Berman, PA
Best Connections Realty, Inc. - Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton FL (561) 716-7824 CRS, ABR, GRI,ePR

Allan,  I am so sorry for your loss.  What a beautiful tribute to Mack.   

Jul 05, 2013 12:52 PM
Allen Lomax
Steed Talker Realty is with two hours of Tryon International Equestrian Center and we offer the best properties in th... - Sylva, NC
WNC Mountain Homes & Horse Farms Specialists

Elyse  -  Thank you for your kind words.  I was finally able to deal with the last of his feed supply today and donated it to an equine rescue facility in our neighboring community.   It gets easier with each passing week. 

Jul 05, 2013 01:06 PM
Kristin Hamilton CA Realtor
Sun Lakes Realty - Banning, CA
(909) 557-6966- Specialize 55+ Communties Banning

Hi Allen,

I write this as I weep for Mack, Dolly and for you. Death is hard for the loved ones left behind but Mack is out of pain now. So sorry for your loss but you gave Mack a great life for 19 yrs and he gave you love. I had never heard of horse colic before. I am from Tennessee so I know your baby was in good hands at Univ of TN. Time should ease the pain and the good memories will remain forever in your heart.

Jul 06, 2013 01:41 AM
Allen Lomax
Steed Talker Realty is with two hours of Tryon International Equestrian Center and we offer the best properties in th... - Sylva, NC
WNC Mountain Homes & Horse Farms Specialists

Hello Kristin  -  Thank you for your kind words.  As the weeks pass, it is getting easier.  I do miss him terribly but as you say the memories last forever.  Yes, the UT vet hospital is amazing and everyone in attendance were compassionate and caring.  They did all that could possibly done. 

Jul 06, 2013 01:54 AM
Susan Jacobsen
The Alliance Group Realty - Hilton Head Island, SC
20 Years Providing WOW Real Estate Service

Oh my gosh Allen - I cannot even begin to imagine the pain that you were in and can only hope that it has begun to be just a dull ache.

I can still remember our big guy about the same size as Mack - Boogie - my daughter learned to ride on the gentle big Belgian. She used to walk underneath him when she was 3 and he'd lift his belly and then drop it down on her head-she'd think that was hysterical. Her little legs used to be straight out since she was so little-she held his mane since she couldn't use the reins. When she would wobble, Boogie would stop until he felt she was stable and then slowly walk again. We lost him to colic as well. It's been 27 years and I still can remember his soft nose. Sorry for the digression but I have no doubt you have the same kinds of wonderful memories.

Jul 12, 2013 01:25 PM