Tuesday, December 13, 2011

First Signs of Healing

It's been an adjustment going to the barn.  Poco used to be our meeter/greeter.  He was one of the few horses I've encountered who knew his name and always came when called.  I thought that was pretty special.  But then, Poco was special.

Now days who is always there to greet me?  It's Gus. 

Initially I couldn't even look at him.  I fed him in silence, tossing his hay inside on the ground of the large double stall which he used to share with Poco instead of placing it in the feeder off of the ground. 

I ignored Gus as he stood at the fence watching me.  I filled his water trough in silence, rolling up the hose and returning back to the house without a single acknowledgement of the large horse that stood there.  I attended Gus in stony silence with as minimal interaction as possible. 

As days passed I was able to glance at Gus.  I could see the confusion and sadness in his eyes.  One could tell that Gus knew he was in trouble but he didn't understand why.

Gus doesn't know what he's done wrong.

Ten days ago I used to greet Gus with a "Hi Gussie!"  He'd stand and wait for me in the pasture when I went in to see him.  He'd loved it when I threw my arms around his massive neck to hug him.  I'd place my arms and cold fingers underneath his thick mane where they'd quickly warm up.  Sometimes I'd get as much of me under there as I could to get warm and toasty, inhaling the wonderful scent of horse.

The massive horse had always stood quietly, almost purring.  He'd never move an inch until I removed my arms and stepped away.  Even then he'd wait a few minutes before moving forward, asking for more hugs. 

I never used to think twice about hugging Gus, even when he ate.  I felt safe in his presence.  I used to love hugging this massive animal with the kind brown eyes as much as he loved receiving the affection.

One of the comments I received when I wrote of Poco's loss was from a reader who reminded me that horses live in the moment. I knew this yet in my pain and anger of loss, I'd forgotten.

Today as I write this I am no longer angry although I still hurt and am sad. I recognize this as a good sign, the first sign of healing. It's not good to carry anger and I know that with time the hurt and sadness will diminish.

Yesterday I took a step in healing.  I went out into Gus's pasture and walked up to him.  I opened my arms and before I could raise them, Gus lowered his head to me and buried it in my arms.  I held that massive head and cried.  I cried for that silly mule-eared Appaloosa and I cried for the golden horse who doesn't know what he did wrong.  Eventually my tears stopped.  Sniffling, I removed my arms and stepped back to look up at Gus.

To see tears in his eyes.


  1. Awww, that's very sweet. I hope you do heal from it and don't feel that you have to get rid of him. Horses are so hard on our hearts.

  2. Beautiful post. I'm glad you've let go of the (completely understandable) anger and that the healing process is starting. I take it you're keeping Gus? I'm glad your reader reminded us that horses live in the moment, because I forget that at times too.

  3. What a touching post. I am a long time reader of your blog but have never posted a comment before. I was so sad to read about your beloved Poco but it's good to read that you are healing and that Gus is healing too.

  4. Ok, you just made me cry too.

  5. I am glad to hear your hurt is healing ! Animals go on instinct and Gus probably has no idea what he had done , but they also can change on a dime like dogs one day your cute little dog will be on your lap loving ya the next thing ya know they have their teeth sunk in your leg . All animals are unpredictable and us lovers of animals seem to forget that ! I hope Gus keeps his cool ! Have a good evening !

  6. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful shared moment between you and your handsome Gus.
    Your healing journey sounds very similar to the story I shared with you about my neighbor friend who experienced the same emotions when her newly rescued mare killed the mother of her special colt. It took her a long while to forgive and move on, but it's true that horses live in the moment and don't hold grudges like we humans do.

    Good for you for allowing tears of forgiveness to wash over you and Gus's big strong neck.


  7. I can kind of relate to what you're going through.

    Two years ago on christmas, I came home after visiting my family. When I got home it was time to feed the animals, so I walked into the dogs yard - I was greated by two dogs, which was worrying. I called for 'Daisy' (my 13 year old Silky terrier) and when she didn't come I started looking for her. I went to get my boyfriend from inside and found her lying on the grass. I knew what had happened. That morning we had given my two dogs a bowl of chicken necks and we had given my boyfriends dog a bone.

    My boyfriend came out and was absolutely positive his dog didn't hurt her. He looked and confirmed what I already knew. His dog had killed Daisy. The only reason I know it wasn't my other dog was because she was on a runner-line.

    Angel (my bf's dog) would sometimes come over for a pat after I fed the dogs, and I didn't know what to do. I didn't even want to tell her to go away - I didn't want to acknowledge she was near me.

    After that I felt like I was betraying Daisy for being near her. Like I was saying 'it's ok that you killed her' - it wasn't, and it never will be, but she doesn't remember what she did. I miss Daisy, but if I hated Angel, I would have lost two dogs instead of one.

    We got her a muzzle and she is not allowed any food (or food bowls, treats or toys with food in them) in the yard unless my boyfriend or I are present. I'm still sad about what happened, but she doesn't remember and being mad at her would be pointless.

    I'm very glad to see that you are starting to heal - it's tough to lose a friend and you have my sympathy.

  8. Oh this just made me cry! I know that Gus does not know what he did wrong....and I know his heart is breaking just as much as yours. I think deep down Gus is a good boy and his heart is breaking just as much as yours. He misses his friend. No one will ever know what really happened and that is sad to not know the why. Love Gus! Hug him alot! I don't think he meant to be bad....It will take time...And the healing process will work itself out. Things happen for a reason, we may never know why. I am so sorry and my tears fall along with yours.....

  9. I am crying with you.. that is so poignant, it actually made my heart clench. I'm glad you've been able to start the healing process.


  10. wow wow wow, powerful.

    Patti from NYC

  11. I just got caught up on your blogs . . . I am at a loss for words. You & your hubby have been through a lot recently. I send sincere ((hugs)) of love and appreciation for your sharing. This last post about Gus is precious . . . bless you my horse-lovin'-50+ friend. (I'm 50+ too)

  12. This post is absolutely beautiful. I'm glad for you,that you have begun the road to recovery,and once again,am so sorry for the loss of Poco

  13. OK now you made me cry...

    Glad you feel a little better.

  14. I have tears in my eyes too. Glad you (and Gus) are healing.

  15. I'm glad you are rethinking your decision to get rid of Gus. Whatever caused him to react that day you'll never know, but he is a good horse and still deserves your love.

    It was my Annie that Lisa wrote about. I found out shortly after she killed Beighley that she kicked another horse in the knee who had to be put down too. She was an extremely fearful young horse (I got her as a 4 year old) but once the herd was established, she was fine. I know she could be lethal but then, all horses can be in the right/wrong? situation.

    Keep loving Gus. He's there for you.

  16. And tears in my eyes as I read this...

  17. Horses always seem to be our teachers. I'm so sorry for this difficult and heart wrenching journey, I hope you continue to heal.

    Gus is fortunate that your heart is as big as his,