Friends, I just can't face talking anymore on the phone right now and so I am sharing with you what happened to my beloved 11 year old gelding Jack. This is the note I sent to his breeder in Utah and it will save me from breaking down while I try to tell you about it on the phone or in person. I know, as you do, that time heals and someday I'll only remember the great memories this fine animal gave to me, Keith and many of our friends. Right now, I am just devastated and in shock. Cindy
Subject: horrible news
Barb, I don't know how to tell you this and I cannot stop crying to talk sensibly on the phone with anyone, yet. We lost Jack yesterday to a severe twisted gut, probably ruptured. He had not been ridden in a week as we had Keith's sister and brother-in-law visiting and Jack was eating happily at 9 am. At 10 am we saw him lying down and he just didn't look right. I called him and he got up and came trotting over to the corral. I watched him a few mins and it became quickly obvious that he was in distress. His right flank was distended. We called the vet immediately and he worked valiently on him for three hours, but we all knew in our hearts he wasn't going to make it. I've never seen so much pain killer and muscle relaxant put into a horse and it just didn't stop his pain. There was nothing we could do. He could not have survived the trip to surgery, much less the surgery. We had to stop his awful suffering. I have owned horses since I was 8 years old and it's without a doubt the worse thing I've ever been through. Just when I think I can't cry anymore, I start again. My husband is pretty tough and he cried like I did. Jack could be a royal pain on the ground, but was probably the most talented horse I have ever been around in my life. You might think that's just because I owned him or because you bred him, but that's not the case. I've never had a horse so many people loved. After we all get out of our shock, I will have some of his friends email you with their memories. He doesn't have a spectacular endurance record, but most of that was my health issues. He won two "high point in show" awards in dressage with two different riders and was most happy working cows with our friend and neighbor Rusty Pogue. Jack's friends came over all afternoon yesterday as the word spread and it was amazing the love they had for a horse that was not their own and many grown men and tough women wept openly.
I would give anything to know why he was prone to colic. This was his fourth colic in eight years and there was no pattern to it that we could ever figure out. He had the very best of care from you as a youngster and from us throughout his eight+ years here. He was rotation wormed and vaccinated regularly. He had his teeth checked twice a year. He ate the best grass hay money could buy and I gave him daily probiotics and phyllium. He was shiny and gorgeous and radiated good health as you could see from his last photos. There are so many worthless horses out there that never have a sick day in their lives. I just don't understand why this happened anymore than I can understand why I could never get a foal out of the two greatest mares I ever owned.
I am so upset and heart-broken and I know you will be, too. He is buried in our back yard and I may never get over his premature loss. I am so very sorry to have to share this with you and wish I knew what to say to make either of us feel better. Cindy
P.S. I have since learned that his dam was very prone to colic and a vet suspected a non-strangulating lipoma. Perhaps he inherited this. We'll never know.