Coping with the loss of a beloved companion…


This is my 350th post, and one I never thought and wish I never had to write.

On Tuesday, June 14, as I was coming back from celebrating my younger sister’s wedding, I had to put my beloved mare Nellie to rest…

IMG_6452Last April 15, I was awakened by a frantic phone call from our stableman who had found Nellie lying under an electric fence as he was coming in to work. God only knows how long she had been lying there on the melting ice, unable to get up, shaking with spasms as the electric current flowed through her entire body…

Somehow, we were able to get her out of her predicament and she was able to get up on her feet. I’ll spare you the excruciating details of her extensive injuries, but it did appear they were mostly superficial, and she seemed to be recovering nicely in the ensuing weeks.

And then, all a sudden, she took a turn for the worst. I summoned a vet, who  recommended a 2-month period of complete rest in a box. Unbeknownst to me at the time, she would have put Nellie down right there and then, but she sensed I was definitely not ready for that – So Nellie had to suffer one more week of excruciating pain while I made up my mind to let her go…

NellieI found a great article in the Horse And Reader magazine which in a small measure is helping me come to terms with my fateful decision and my loss. Answering a reader’s question about coping with the loss of her pony, Fliss Gillot writes that “Losing a horse or pony can be immeasurably painful and difficult to come to terms with,” adding:

Until you have been through the experience, it is impossible to imagine how hard it can be to adjust to the loss.

Although they do not share our lives in the same close way as a cat or dog, a horse draws on every ounce of your being – physical, mental and emotional.”

Part of the explanation rests in the fact that “For an animal big enough and powerful enough to inflict serious physical injury on any one of us, to give the trust, companionship and compliance that a horse can give, is nothing short of a gift,” as Gillot writes.

We take responsibility for their welfare and their lives, and put our lives in their care whenever we are around them.

We take this so much for granted that often, it isn’t until we lose one that the full impact of that relationship really hits home.

The other side of the same token is that a horse, unlike us humans, is not a predator – It is a prey animal, and it’s first instinct and defense mechanism is it’s flight instinct, for which horses have been amazingly well equipped by God and nature. For a horse to give you its complete trust that you will protect and take care of it in any circumstance is also an extraordinary gift on its part, and is an essential part of the powerful bond that ties a horse and its human caretaker. We essentially and literally trust each other with our lives.

Nellie_HenriI owe Nellie an indescribable sense of gratitude for all she has given me during during our brief time on this Earth together. I did my best to repay her in kind in our daily interactions, and I do hope I was able in some modest measure to give her some comfort and happiness, which I do know she did not have much of until we met.

Thank you God, thank you my dear Nellie, and please forgive me my trespasses as I tried to forgive your very infrequent ones…

P.S. In a tribute to my beloved and faithful companion, I have changed the icon I use in my signature from a horse and rider to a galloping horse, hoping she is now galloping freely in some heavenly fields… Until we meet again!

Henri Thibodeau Galloping HorseHenri’s Web Space


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2 Responses to Coping with the loss of a beloved companion…

  1. Marie-Michèle Thibodeau says:

    Henri, tu m’impressionnera toujours dans tes belles écritures. Tu ne pouvais mieux décrire ce que je croyais que tu ressent suite aux événements. Pour en avoir témoigné moi-même, je suis certaine que Nellie t’appréciais vraiment beaucoup. Elle avait tellement changée pour le mieux depuis que tu étais son compagnon. En plus, suite à la lecture que tu as bien voulu partagé avec moi, je n’ai plus aucun doute qu’elle t’appréciais beaucoup. Je sais que ce ne sont que des mots et que cela n’enlèvera pas ta profonde blessure de sa perte, mais tu as de très beaux souvenirs de ta relation avec Nellie et le temps qu’elle a vécu avec toi furent probablement les meilleurs de sa vie.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loup says:

    Dear Henri, here is an unusual article which brought tears to my eyes this morning.
    I understand you and feel sorry for your sadness.
    I know all the pain we can feel when we lose a friend, whether he is a person, an animal or a tree. A friend is irreplaceable.
    God relieve you.

    Liked by 1 person

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