He is all heart and then some

This is going to be a bit hard to write but I think I need to write it tonight instead of tomorrow because when people ask I won’t be ready to talk about it. I wrote about how Parker really acted strangely at our last x-c schooling. He did everything I asked of him but all of a sudden felt like he was having a panic attack which is very unlike him. I thought he was overheating because Parker really doesn’t have any types of behavioral issues. He got relaxed again after walking into the woods and in the shade but I didn’t jump anymore and walked for the next 20 min before he went back to the trailer and got hosed and scraped down. It took him over an hour to recover as far as his breathing and I was sure the breathing had something to do with the panic attack.

This week has been very hot and on Wednesday I get home and find Parker really struggling to breathe. Nostrils flaring and chest heaving while standing in front of multiple fans. I get him out and hose him down but he does not recover at all until several hours later. I emailed my vet who told me to take his temp the next day and give him dex if no temp and banamine if he had a temp and observe. He had no temp but again was breathing really hard. We had already developed a routine where I would come and stand in his paddock with a hose and just hose him for 5 min and he loved that! He would stand there and just turn around ever so slightly so he got wet all over.

We decided to scope him as something serious was going on and without looking we wouldn’t know. Allie and I had always had a gut feeling and our guts are not often wrong. Our gut said there is an issue that leads to the choke and resistance to contact but nothing ever came up.  One thing I have always believed about Parker is that he was a seriously kind and incredible horse. People would say he had behavioral issues but he never had a behavioral issue here. Even when he must have had the horrible ulcers he was very kind about his protest to work. It could be that I listened to him but I listened because I know he would never be bad intentionally. This horse is more like a dog than a horse.

When we scoped him we got the worse news imaginable and when you thinking about all the things he has been doing for us it’s hard to imagine how much heart this horse has. Basically when he breathes his airway collapses on itself especially in the pharynx area. He has a very small airway to breathe out of and the area has a lot of nerve damage. She said he was basically choking himself just standing there trying to breathe. Horses need to pant just like dogs to cool themselves and he wasn’t able to get enough air in. His resting respiration was 48..supposed to be around 12.

This is something he has probably had for a long time although nobody can say how long. I’m sure he has learned to adapt but the hot weather really caused a change in him and of course with the really hot weather I immediately noticed something was not right. Of course this is why he chokes and why he has resistance under saddle. I’m feeling guilty for not having looked sooner but really until this past month there was no reason to. I thought a horse with a breathing issue would make a noise or sound raspy but she said he doesn’t even get enough air to make a noise! I mean..god how could this horse be doing all I asked of him and not been able to get air in. Poor Parker.

We have decided to euthanize him because although he could possibly live in a colder climate finding someone to take him would be a challenge and we would always worry that someone would try to do more with him than they should. He really is that good of a mover and jumper. The vet was watching me lunge him and was just going WOW! It always frustrated me as a rider to be making such slow progress despite trying everything I knew but now I understand. Everyone who has been to my farm knows that the CANTER horses may be owned by CANTER but every single one is treated like one of my own. Parker is a horse that instantly grabs a piece of your heart. You can not help but to fall in love. He is a horse who has always lived for his food and his very vocal until he gets his special slop. He comes running when he sees his bucket just a hollering at you. He loved grooming and all the special attention he got here and the nice trail rides. Hell, he just was so damn cool and although he frustrated me to no end because I just couldn’t figure it out that was part of what made me love him.

I have had to put down several CANTER horses that have had injuries we couldn’t rehabilitate but I hadn’t gotten attached to them because I hadn’t ridden or really worked with them. Parker is part of the family. It will be a sad day for me but I will and always have been a supporter of giving a horse a kind death before something bad can happen. He has gotten lots of very special treatment this weekend including some good old triple crown senior sweet feed to spice up his regular ration balancer. I brought him out tonight and gave him a bath and a special grooming. I’m sorry he was so misunderstood but I can honestly say I listened to him the to the best of my ability and always gave him the benefit of the doubt. Makes you wonder how he ran 30+ races and made over $60k with these issues.

This week has been very hard for me with a lot of things going wrong on the farm and getting the news on Parker. I picked up three new horses on Saturday. I will write about that tomorrow when I need a bit of a pick me up.

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17 responses to “He is all heart and then some

  1. I am so sorry to hear this! You gave Parker several months of top-notch care, attention, and love — and I’m sure he is very grateful for this.
    I know that putting an animal to sleep is so difficult, but it’s often the kindest thing to do. Thank you for being there for these amazing animals, through the good and the bad, and making the difficult and heart-wrenching decisions. You are giving Parker the painless and dignified end that he deserves. Hugs to you and Parker!

  2. Wendy Oleksiak

    Well im so sorry for all involved. You are doing the right thing to complete his circle of life with a safe ending..big hugs ~not easy~ but done for all the right reasons

  3. I think all I can say is: I am so sorry.

  4. I’m so sorry that Parker is not well enough to continue his life as a riding horse. It’s a very difficult decision to make (but the right one) and I admire you for keeping his best interests in mind and also for all the love and patience and time you put into him, and all the other canter horses. Parker is, I’m sure, very grateful for all that you have done and given him.
    I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow.

  5. What a struggle Parker has had in life. No wonder he was panicking. I’m very sorry it has come to this. You’ve been very close to this horse, from what you write, and it’s sad all around. But I agree with the other writers that you are doing the right thing.

  6. Oh, my heart hurts for you both. I feel like I know this amazing horse, just from following your blog. I am so incredibly sorry that it has come to this, but I’m equally as proud of you for making this decision. Thank you for giving him a dignified way to go.

  7. You gave him the best life and you should be proud of that.

  8. splishsplashriding

    Many comforting thoughts coming your way!

  9. I’m very sorry to hear about Parker. You’ve done an excellent job with him and given him the best care. What an incredible horse to try so hard for everyone all this time. I am glad he ended up with CANTER and at your farm where he was really appreciated and spoiled.

  10. I am SO so so sorry to hear this. I really enjoyed reading about his training, his photos and watching his videos. What a great guy! My heart goes out to you.

  11. Sending many hugs to you both at this difficult time. I believe you’re doing the right thing, but I know it isn’t easy.

  12. Cathy and Dixie

    So sorry for what you are going through. I know there is little that can be said or done to make the current moment less awful, but hopefully in time you will take some comfort in all you did for him and all you do for all the Canter horses, past, present and future, in your care.

  13. That horse won the great equine lottery when he landed in your barn. So sorry to hear it ends this way. But it will be a good, humane, peaceful dignified end to a great horse. And although every horse is entitled to that when the time comes, they sure don’t get it. Thinking of you from far away in this rotten, rotten time.

  14. All I can say is that both you and Parker have my sympathies. Also, thank you for having the courage to make the best decision for the horse. You really gave Parker the best gift-you honored and respected him in life. And you’ll do the same now that his journey is about to end.
    I am truly sorry.

  15. I’m really sad to hear about this. I have to say Parker was probably my favorite horse to read about and watch because he had such a cute face. I’m really sorry and I hope those new arrivals cheer you up.

  16. Jess, I am so sorry for both you and Parker. it is the kindest thing you can do for him, but I know that is cold comfort right now. xoxox

  17. That is so sad. So sorry for your loss. What an incredible horse to have raced all those races. RIP

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