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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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Lonely horses (equine mourning)

Jake was euthanized 6 days ago after a catastrophic colic.

At 2:30pm he was happily eating lunch and at 3:00pm he was struggling to stand up. I had to stand by and watch my best friend in such horrible pain for 2 hours, totally helpless. His eyes begging me to end his pain and I couldn't do anything for him.

I was not the only one watching. His partner, Ruckus, was in the adjacent stall just as concerned as I was. When the vet arrived and finally got enough sedation into him to palpate him he discovered he had a twist in his small intestine. Within minutes the vet had injected the euthanasia and he was gone.

Though I know it was the best thing for Jake I am left to pick up the pieces of Ruckus' life when I don't even know what to do with my own grief.

When I met Jake he was 3 years old, just a baby. Our connection was instant and intense. He was my best friend and I was his. I tolerated his herd behavior toward me because, to tell you the truth, I enjoyed being the center of his universe. A year later I decided to get another horse. He needed someone to relate to. I bought Ruckus for him but also for my sister. I wanted her to have the kind of connection with Ruckus that I had with Jake. I know now that was impossible. For the past 8 years the two horses have lived together 24/7.

They are the only two horses here. I have a small barn at my house. Now that Jake is gone she is totally alone. Not only does she have to learn to live without him but she has to learn how to be alone. I adopted her from the racetrack so she has never had to live alone. She has never been a people social horse. She has always preferred Jake's company to mine. Since Jake's death she has been eating well but she's not sleeping well, she's more jumpy and can't be turned out she just runs the fence. Is there anything I can do for her to make this easier. I don't want another horse. What happened to Jake was more than I can bear. I can't go through that again. I want to keep her at home but I'm afraid she'll have to be moved to a boarding facility to be with other horses.

Do you have any recommendations on what I can do to help her feel confident and relaxed by herself?

Thank You for Your Time, Stephanie

Hello Stephanie,

Thank you for reaching out. In your situation I truly think that is a good idea. My condolences to you and Ruckus. Grieving the loss of a loved one is an important part of the healing process. You are definitely on your way to healing and moving on. Death is obviously a part of life. As you have learned from your experience with horses, they are very relationship orientated and social. They crave and require companions of their own kind. A horse without the company of other horses is a sorry creature indeed. Even though you think you cannot deal with another loss of a beloved horse again, I think it would be unfair to deny Ruckus a basic need because you fell you could not handle it. If that truly is the case, I would suggest finding Ruckus a loving home where other horses are living. Keeping him by himself without equine companionship, I think, is not good and unfair to the horse. You are not a horse and cannot fulfill that role for him. You can give him a lot. But not that specifically. So, I think there are two choices. Either get a second horse and choose wisely or move him on to a wonderful new home with new friends and equine companions. Let him get on with his life, as you need to get on with yours.

Good Luck, Sincerely, Franklin

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