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Broken

Suzy died. I don’t know how. All I know is that her trainer called and said she was found dead in her stall this morning. She finished her dinner and then died some time in the night. She was eleven years old. In her prime. A beautiful, well-built, beautiful moving mare. She was in training because we wanted to see her in a horse show. I wanted that. I wanted people to appreciate her. Even if they could not appreciate her the way I did, I admit that I wanted them to say “ooh, what a pretty horse.” It seems incredibly stupid now, to give a shit what anyone thinks about a horse. I guess it is part of connecting with fellow humans. What sad sacks we are.

I wish I had gone to get her as soon as the horse shows started being cancelled. We talked about it but for some reason did not do it. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if I could have done anything with one of my late night checks. Then again, last night I didn’t do a very late night check. I might have missed it anyway. But she would have died in the green pasture with her daughter and sisters around her. She would have seen one more grass season instead of dying in a stall.

I feel sick. Eleven. One of our most beautiful mares, out of one of the strongest, still living at 33 years old mares I have ever seen. We got Suzy’s mother from a horse rescue, starved for most of her life, totally neglected. And now her daughter, Suzy, was more fit than she had ever been. No reason she should have died, but it happens. They say “healthy as a horse” but really they are such fragile creatures.

One of the things about a shutdown in a global pandemic is that you have to consider how broken things will get. Even if it doesn’t devolve completely into anarchy, things can get very very bad. Every evening while I put together the horses’ meds, I think “will we run out? Will the factory that makes this, in some other country even more vulnerable than the US to this horrible disease… will it close down? Has it already? Have hundreds of workers already died?” Globalization makes us vulnerable to things happening far far away. Perhaps we should be, certainly we should. We should care about places far away if we care about our species, all creatures living anywhere. We are connected. I just wish we were made stronger by it instead of weaker.

The way we depend on trade with people who are far away without knowing anything about those people or their situation, that is a problem. If it were just economics, it would not be worth caring about. I don’t give a shit about the big wealth economy. If we were more locally self-sufficient, we wouldn’t have to worry about the fucking global economy. We could just worry about feeding people and sheltering them. We could manage with late-night checks and an intimate understanding of those in our community. And from our local security we could reach out our stronger hands to help others. But when one factory in one place cripples communities all over the planet, that is unsustainable.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

As things are, death touches us, near and far, and we can’t take action against it. I could end up having to shoot horses because we have no medications to save them and no drugs to put them down gently. I would have to make the call with so much less information than I am used to having. Just like the doctors in Italy had to decide who to save, not because they knew they could save one and not the other but because they had to make a call, under the gun, with nothing but their gut. Not because a person could not be saved but because they could not save them at that time. Because of some greedy-ass plan to amass wealth in as few hands as possible.

Mercifully, for the doctors at least, they don’t have to actually kill their patient. But they do have to watch them die slowly and painfully, or at least carry the weight of knowing it is happening. Maybe that isn’t merciful. Sometimes while I watch a horse suffering, I want to end it for them. Even if they survive, there is a moment there when seeing them suffer is too painful for me and I selfishly project a desire to die onto them. No one wants to die. Not really. But watching someone suffer can make you crazy.

Suzy was such a character. Not just beautiful but also a funny horse. She could stand on her hind legs like a circus horse. Not hurling herself over backwards, not pulling away from a rope. Just standing up like she wanted a better view. She could even take a step or two while she was up there. She was a pocket horse. She loved people like her own kind. She trusted us completely and had no fear. I have missed her while she was away. Now I will keep missing her until it stops aching.

I was so proud of her. She started her training very badly, bucking her trainer off. I had to bring her back from that. It took me a long time but I got her to where she knew bucking was not okay and even if people were usually fun, you can’t go bucking them off. We can’t take that joke. She got some riding after that which confirmed that she had given up bucking. When she went into full time training and the trainer said “she knows what her job is,” I felt so proud of her and of me. I was so proud.

I should have brought her home. I don’t know what happened but I wish I had brought her home.

A little while later…

Suzy’s death made me cry for the first time since this pandemic started. I worried I might not be able to stop. I’m still leaking a bit but I suppose that is healthy. I feel the mania ebbing. That doesn’t mean I don’t still plan to be able to feed the village come September but I don’t feel quite so frantic about it. Thank you, Suzy, for your beautiful life and my connection to it.


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