Kim and Mystico, a rare outing and first time laying down outside in 2 years ~ May 2023
A mere two weeks ago I shared a blog called “Becoming Masters of Sadness” about my life lessons in navigating the many loves and losses of our animal family. Now, we are preparing for our horses, Mystico and Laddie, to cross the rainbow bridge together. They have come as far as they can on their life journey and are indicating their readiness to embark upon their next.
What has been hovering on the horizon of our awareness came into stark relief last month when Laddie choked on a tiny bit of dry food. He had choked before, and it was previously able to be cleared with vet intervention, but this time required emergency scoping and hospitalization due to pneumonia. His recovery was miraculous for a horse of his advanced age, but upon his return home we have realized that his quality of life, which was already limited due to his health issues, is no longer the life we’d wish for him.
Laddie wishing he could eat like a natural horse ~ June 2023
Mystico has been in a battle with severe laminitis, a culmination of many other laminitic episodes over the years which caused damage that was irreversible. Yet we hoped against all odds that we could pull off one more miracle. For 22 months Mystico has been confined to a stall and mostly unable to walk. We were there with him, in service to his courageous willingness to carry on. Each day he courageously transcended the struggle, and so we have continued to support him in every way we could with monthly and sometimes weekly vet and farrier visits, supplements, holistic and spiritual care. What progress was made, mostly dissolved into setbacks. Each new attempt to adjust or trim or treat seemed to help slightly, but even as his hooves improved other issues would crop up. The goal post of recovery got further and further away. With the last recent attempts and the help of a new holistic vet, and homeopathic remedies he began to make great strides, so our hope was renewed, but with each passing month, despite profound progress, the critical scaffolding of his fragile body has begun to lose its cohesion.
Mystico ~ June 2023
The other day, my husband Rod remarked on an inspiring video on Facebook. It showed a paraplegic woman in a gorgeous white wedding gown, standing up from her wheelchair with the help of a walker, to walk with her father down the aisle. Her beaming smile told the tale of her determination and joy, as the groom, and the bridesmaids, and all the guests held back the tears that inevitably come when we witness that kind of courage. So it has been with Mystico, every single day. He stands for hope. He stands for love. He stands for us, but mostly for himself.
Mystico courageously gets up to eat multiple times daily despite his debilitating condition
Laddie leading the way
So now it is Laddie the elder, the second horse I adopted in 2000, who is coming to terms with his limitations, and leading the way for us by saying there is another choice. The choice of letting go. The other five horses preceded them across the rainbow bridge, and they are the last two. Neither of them wants to be left alone to weather these challenges. While we wish we had time to catch our breath before plunging into the familiar waters of grief, we can delay no longer, when we understand their request for peace.
Laddie and Mystico friends in life, and soon in spirit
Laddie has to wear a muzzle to prevent him eating anything that will cause him to choke
As we reconcile this sudden shift, we return again and again to memories of these two. They have evolved into the majestic and empowered beings they came here to be. Mystico, the rogue stallion who was deemed dangerous, has been the most loving and willing partner, friend to goats, llamas, pigs, and dogs, and a gifted healer and guide for a few fortunate humans. Stories here
Laddie came out of his shell and transcended his Eeyore nature. He has wooed many mares, including Darma, many times his size, and had a fan club of girls and women as well. He became the leader of his own miniature herd, and made us all laugh with his spunky personality. Story here
Laddie Boy 2008
These two have transcended death many times over the years and we have been fortunate to postpone our goodbyes through the laminitis, colics, chokes, and other severe illnesses. Now, like the character Bilbo, age, it seems, has caught up with them.
All our questions have been asked and asked again, and though they cannot all be answered, they have settled into a quiet knowing. At last, we are letting go of the strive for survival, the daily burden of trying to help these two horses through a crumbling labyrinth of choices. Having reached this devastating decision, we stand at the precipice. Oddly, we find that for the first time in a long time, we have a blessed sense of release. The peace that has eluded us before is present because at last, we have surrendered.
Our spirit horse altar of our herd of five horse angels, alight with prayers
After all these long years, and all the gently gradual and tragically sudden losses of twenty-five other animals, we anticipate the closing of this chapter of our life. This time though, we have the luxury of time. We have set aside all other unnecessary life tasks and are so grateful to be able to be with them in these blessedly warm spring days. I feel an odd return to the sense of joy and innocence we had when we first opened our hearts and our home to each new member of our animal family. Instead of feeling heavier as the day approaches, we are feeling lighter, as if we're shedding layers of strife and coming back home to ourselves. The horses too, seem blessedly relieved.
Thankfully they are comfortable enough to enjoy their food, and the warmth and beauty of the season. I can release some of my vigilance, and I find moments to be still enough to watch them eat their mashes, and watch the barn swallows dip and glide, as they build their nests out of the horse's hair for future generations of swallows who will roost in these empty stalls. I close my eyes and wonder how it will feel when there are no horses to feed. But the deer, the birds, the squirrels, the raccoons, and a few bunnies come by to say, we are still here. The wind is blowing constant whispers from the forest treetops, and inviting the chimes to sing of new endings, and new beginnings.
With the horses tucked in for the night, the deer frolic around Darma's memorial mound
It took awhile for me to understand how to quiet my mind's doubts, to free myself from the why's and the what if’s, and the sense that because they look so good in a given moment, that I should reconsider. When I feel that tug of indecision in my heart, I return to resolve when I am reminded of the scene from the movie The Lord of the Rings, when King Théoden lays dying and his niece Éowyn saves his life by killing the evil witch king. Afterwards, severely wounded herself, she crawls to her uncle’s side. His eyes open in surprise and love when he sees her, saying, “I know your face.” Then his vibrant glance wanes as he says, “...my eyes darken.” With sudden tears she entreats, “No, I’m going to save you!” He replies, “You already have.”
Mystico and Laddie will cross over on Wednesday at 4 pm Pacific Time.
Please join us in our fond farewell as they embark on their journey to the undying lands.
A owl appears with the message "the timing is right, I will help you see in the dark"
just days ago Kim and Rod ... long shadows near the barn, in the phenomenal light reflected
from the skylight of our Knoelle house - 300 feet uphill behind us