I have three horses: Angel (see story #70), a mare named Darla, and a big beautiful gelding named Red. Apollo, my neighbor’s horse, also has joined my little herd, since he was all alone after his pasture buddy passed away.
The morning of July 7, all four horses had been trimmed by my ferrier. They were all happy and healthy, or so it seemed.
Darla has to wear a grazing muzzle during the day in “grass season,” due to “founder” (high sugar in the grass that could kill her without it, almost like diabetes). When I went to the barn about 7 p.m. to put Darla up for the night, I noticed Red was not with the others.
I rode over the hill and found Red standing there looking like a swamp monster! He was soaking wet, covered in dirt, and had scuff marks on his head! I had no idea what had happened. My first thought was “something attacked him!”
I noticed by our other barn, the dirt had been disturbed and the water trough had been knocked over. Then I knew he had been rolling around because of painful colic. As I began to attend to Red, he fell down. I quickly got him back up and called my husband, Mark. He brought me a syringe of Banamine (pain medicine for colic). We took turns walking Red for about four hours. He did have a bowel movement, but that didn’t seem to help him feel any better.
We called the veterinarian. The vet intubated Red with a gallon of mineral oil to check for a blockage. We did everything we could that Tuesday. My husband and I stayed home from work the next two days. We were determined to get him better. We had not eaten and took turns sleeping in short shifts. All our attention was focused on Red.
We have an old backhoe here on the farm, which had not been used for about three years. The lights on it have not worked at all for at least 10 years! On Thursday morning, Mark said to me, “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but I need to jump that backhoe to get it running . . . you know?”
With a lump in my throat, I said “Yes, I understand,” knowing that Mark would need the backhoe to bury Red. Yet we continued to work with Red the rest of the day, keeping in close contact with the vet. Finally, around 4 p.m. Thursday, I realized the medicine and everything else we had been doing was not working. Red’s breathing was getting very labored. Even though he followed us around the round pen, he never laid down again.
This whole time I had been praying urgently to God to “save my big Red, please!” But, at that point, my prayers changed to, “If it’s time for him to go, even though he is only 16, please don’t let him suffer.” I prayed for God’s strength and guidance on what to do.
The vet arrived about 4:30 p.m. He listened to Red’s belly and told us he couldn’t hear any “gut sounds.” He diagnosed Red as having a form of “gas colic,” which can be fatal. The vet said there was nothing we had done or could have done to cause or prevent this. He told me it was Red’s time. I knew he was right and didn’t want Red to have to suffer.
As we walked Red to the area where he would be put down, I was trying to be strong, but my pain was so intense! I felt like part of me was dying. I told him what a good boy he was and thanked him. I told him I would see him again one day.
The vet was wonderful! He said to me, “When I administer this, I’ll take his lead line. Sometimes they go down easy and sometimes hard.” I just nodded. I was praying to God to give me the courage to do this and also to be with him when he passed. Mark said, “Maybe you don’t need to be here for this. Go back to the house.” I said, “No! I have to be here with him!”
As the vet started the euthanasia, Red buckled and then fell over. As soon as he fell over, I turned away, walked off, and went to my knees. I cried as quietly as I could, I honestly thought my heart was literally breaking to pieces! Then I remembered the song “Ten Thousand Angels Cried.” The lyrics refers to God during Jesus’ crucifixion, “God turned his head away, He couldn’t stand the sight.” Remembering that song gave me the courage to get up and go back over to Red. I stroked his big beautiful face and told him it was okay to go. I told him how I loved him so very much.
I am glad I could be with Red as he passed away peacefully. After he died, about 7:30 p.m., I went back to the house, because I didn’t want to be there when Mark buried him. When Mark got back to the house, he comforted me a long time as I cried. He said, “Let me tell you about that backhoe.” I said, “I don’t care about the stupid backhoe!” He said, “You will when I tell you this.”
I listened as Mark told me what happened, “You know I told you I needed to jump the backhoe to get it going right? Well, something told me to just try to start it without jumping it, and when I did, it started right up! And every light on it worked!”
A few days later when Mark went to move the backhoe from the area of Red’s grave, he had to jump it, and none of the lights worked. So once again, God cares about everything in our lives, even things we consider to be trivial or not worthy of bothering him about in prayer. God cares about it all! This was a reminder to have faith in Him, regardless of what we think we want, but trusting in Him for His plan for us. We know that His ways are not our ways. We can have peace because God loves each of us so very much!
God was there for us that day; even though I didn’t get the result I wanted. God showed us through a backhoe (of all things) that He cares for us and is always there with us.