Our dear friends, we must share with you some heartbreaking news. On Dec. 2 in the evening, one of our beloved horses passed away suddenly. Carson, a horse that joined our program at the beginning of this year and quickly won over all who worked with him, was humanely euthanized by the veterinary team at Janssen’s when it was determined that no treatments would save him.
Losing an equine partner is always traumatic. It is even more jarring when it happens suddenly. We are left with so many questions, and trauma, and grief. And in a year where we have all experienced so much loss and change already, the loss of Carson compounds all of that in ways that are difficult to put into words. Since finding words to describe this loss is so difficult, we would rather share with you words that describe how our riders, volunteers, and our team will remember him.
Strong. Bold. Beautiful.
These are all words often used to describe Carson. He was a big grey draft cross, with a striking presence. He was always alert, curious, and eager to engage with people. His size would draw you to him, and his kind nature would keep you close.
Curious. Eager. Connected.
These words will ring true for all who rode, handled, or worked with Carson. He was always eager to greet people at the gate, and happy to come in for his work. He enjoyed games in classes, trail rides, and trotting along with his joyful riders.
“It was an honor to ride him. He was beautiful. I’m so lucky. I loved him a lot and will miss riding him.” -Mia Sallman
“Carson was so special to Agape. He was a true teacher.” -Barb Sparks, Instructor
On Monday, Nov. 30, Carson did not finish his evening meal and seemed agitated in his stall. We observed him and measured his vital signs, and then decided that a dose of anti-inflammatory would be a good idea. Once the medication was active in his system, he perked up and was eager to return to his herd mates and hay. Tuesday seemed better for Carson, but on Wednesday, Dec. 2, he was not quite himself. He did not want to eat and was quite agitated in his stall. We asked our veterinary team at Janssen’s Veterinary Clinic to take a look, and they discovered that Carson’s colon was displaced due to an enlarged spleen, and he had developed a low-grade fever. We discussed options with our veterinarian and decided to treat him at home overnight since, now, he seemed calm and relatively comfortable. We were hopeful that treatment would allow the spleen to shrink, which would lead to the colon sliding back into place. Unfortunately, shortly after our vet left, Carson’s condition deteriorated. He went down in his stall and became unresponsive to touch or having his name called. He also experienced several seizures, lost his vision, and was unable to control or stabilize his body. We asked the Janssen veterinary team to return and humanely euthanize Carson. Upon arrival, they agreed that there was nothing further we could do to save Carson, and they kindly laid him to rest. We are not totally certain what caused Carson’s death. We cannot point to an accident that occured, or injury. We do not know if the enlarged spleen and displaced colon were the main medical issue that Carson was facing, or if it was one issue among many. We do know that his sickness was affecting his gastrointestinal system and his neurological system. We also know that with such vital systems failing, there was nothing we could do to overcome his challenges. The very kindest thing we could do to steward him was relieve his pain and distress with euthanasia.
For those that wish to remember Carson with us…
We often find that the best way to heal our souls in these times is to honor the memory of those we’ve lost. We would like to invite you to share your stories, photographs, drawings, and special moments with Carson. His stall has been decorated in his honor and will remain that way through Dec. 14. If you would prefer to email us your pictures, stories, or art, please feel free to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have a special word that captures Carson in your heart? We would love to hear them all! Words have the power to name our feelings and set them free. Please share them with us if you desire.