If you read horse blogs long enough, you may find yourself feeling invested in some of the horses that you read about. We may never know the blogger’s horse in person, but we get a sense of them through the writer’s stories. We journey along with the blogger as they share about the joys of life with horses.
Inevitably, we also participate in the sorrows and heartaches. I know I have cried when reading about the death of a horse I only knew through words and images.
Many readers here have experienced the pain of losing a horse. And if not a horse, most readers have said goodbye to a beloved dog, cat or other animal that was dear to them. You are familiar with the weight of it.
Today I have one of those sad stories of my own to share. My horse herd of three has shrunk to a herd of two.
My beloved Bear died at home on Saturday, September 17th. He was twenty-seven years old.
I came out at dawn to find him in the throws of colic. I ran back into the house to contact the clinic. The veterinarian on call arrived within the hour, diagnosing Bear with a likely strangulating lipoma.
It was a shock. Bear seemed perfectly normal the day before. I remember looking out my living room window at 7pm on Friday, seeing him happily munching on his hay dinner.
Considering Bear’s long history of health issues, I had already decided ahead of time that I would not choose colic surgery for Bear and asked the veterinarian to euthanize him. No more suffering.
As most horse folks know, colic is a general term for stomach pain. What causes the pain varies. As a brief explanation, a strangulating lipoma is a benign fatty tumor that gets wrapped around a horse’s intestine.
Strangulating lipoma is one of the types of colic that can only be addressed through surgery, as opposed to something like a gas colic that might be resolved with hand-walking and medication.
If you are not already familiar with strangulating lipoma, you can learn more through the references I’ve posted below.
https://horsesidevetguide.com/drv/Diagnosis/10/small-intestinal-strangulation-strangulation-by-a-pedunculated-lipoma/ (just so you are prepared, please note that it includes some graphic colic surgery photos)
If you’ve read this blog for a bit, you may be aware that I’ve had Bear since 2005. That adds up to 17 years with him. Likely the longest relationship I will ever have with a horse. He meant a lot to me, and while I knew he wouldn’t live forever, his death nonetheless hurts.
Before Bear’s passing, I already had two other blog posts written (Another Trail Tale and Why I Decided To Stop Riding My New Horse), so I decided to let the previous two blog posts go out as planned the week after his death. I needed a minute to formulate my thoughts before writing this.
Going forward, I have a separate tribute post for Bear planned. And another post about my remaining horses, Shiloh and Piper, adjusting to being a herd of two now. I’m not yet sure about when exactly those posts will appear, maybe one after the other or mixed in between other material. All I can say is that they are in the works.
Bear’s death is still raw for me, but I know the sting will heal with time. As a Christian believer, my hope is ever on Jesus who is my sustainer in and through all things. Reading the book of Genesis, the scriptures tell me that God The Father breathed life into all living things. I feel blessed to have been able to care for Bear, one of His creations, during my time on this earth. Godspeed, dear Bear, Godspeed.