Skye   Leave a comment

On Boxing Day morning Mum’s horse, Skye, had to be put down.

My sister got Skye – a pretty Arab mare – from a rescue centre about fourteen years ago, when Skye was about six years old. She’d wound up there because she’d had cancer, which resulted in one of her eyes being removed (hence, presumably, her name). Quite excitable at the best of times, only being able to see half the world had made her previous owners unable to cope with her, so the rescue centre had taken her in.

Originally she was only meant as a companion animal, but as she was still very young and energetic my mother and sister thought they would try riding her; after all, our horses had been kept with an old Shetland pony called Billy who had developed cataracts (these were – still almost are – untreatable in horses), but he’d still managed to go out for rides, through a combination of verbal “up” and “down” commands, and the sounds and smells of the other horses, for several years even after he was completely blind. Surely a young and otherwise healthy horse would be able to manage, with a bit of patience and practice?
Amusingly, Tetley the Shire horse and Billy the Shetland pony were best friends.

And so it was that my sister, and eventually my (by then lighter) mother, would ride her out on hacks. After a bit of practice only having one eye didn’t bother her; she would happily jog along leading the ride (indeed, few of our other horses would ever keep up with her). She was a bit excitable, but not unusually so, and it was only very rarely that she’d spin around to look at something interesting or scary (for horses, those words are synonyms unless their object’s edible) happening on her blind side.

Unfortunately, her tumours had spread. Lumps had been spotted growing some years ago; the vet, alas, assured my mother and sister that they were inoperable. Fortunately, they caused no noticable distress or discomfort for Skye, who carried on happily as normal. But, in the end, they grew too large, and her insides were bunged up such that no number of prunes could clear them out. There wasn’t really anything the vet could do, and nothing he recommended; there was a possibility that a major operation could have given her another week or two, but she would have suffered more through the stress and upheaval of that than it could possibly benefit her.

The vet wasn’t really having a good festive season. He’d had to put somebody else’s horse down on Christmas morning, too.

Everybody had known this was coming for fourteen years, but Skye had lived, and been ridden, happily for all that time. She’d lost her eye, and nobody had expected her to be ridden again, when she was six. I don’t think she did so badly, considering that.

My mother really was very upset, though; she’d been riding Skye almost exclusively for years, and Skye was the only horse left who was really hers.


Posted 2 January 2012 by Colthor in Diary

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