Monte – Loss and Grief


It is probably colic that got Monte – an elderly horse function of a lipoma or melanoma twisting his guts. At 32 years of age, not an unusual problem. Monte lived with us for 27 years – longer than our children had been alive as we both noted. He lived with Cinnamon, my Appaloosa, for 25 of those years. He had been very fond of Frodo my daughter’s mini horse as well.

Monte died out in the lane of the big pasture and Chuck moved his body with the tractor to the crest of a small hill where the horses often choose to stand. Chuck said that Frodo stood vigil by the body until he brought the horses in last night. Not exulting in the warm day, not seeking out the grass he is denied most of the year, but standing by his buddy.

Today I had the chore of finding someone to bring a backhoe and dig the hole for him. When the horses went out we shut them in the front pasture so a backhoe could safely get through the gates. Cinnamon, Frodo and Crispy the Quarter Horse all went as close to Monte’s body as they could get and simply stood at the fence. Occasionally Cinnamon would nicker.

When the gentleman with the backhoe arrived, he told me he liked animals but he himself did not have any. As I held gates, he suddenly turned to me and said, “Look at the other horses! Have they just been staying there?” I could tell him that yes, they had been waiting for their friend, watching over him.

I could not watch so I worked on cleaning sheep stalls while he dug the hole and buried Monte. Whenever I glanced out I could see the three horses, waiting, watching. As he finished and headed back up the lane, Cinnamon suddenly neighed very loudly three or four times, then the three of them walked away. And finally I cried.

As I wrote the check, the backhoe operator wiped tears from his eyes too. I have never seen anything like that, “ he told me.

I am a veterinarian. A person of science. A person of facts. But no matter what facts are thrown at me, no matter what science may say, I know what grief is. And I know that our barn is full of grief.

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