My Surprise Christmas Present 2009
I spent most of last week up at the barn taking care of Jazz. We were riding Monday afternoon and I almost didn't go as I had dentist appointment which ran late due to the fact that they couldn't get my mouth frozen enough for me not to jump out of the chair every time the dentist tried to clean out an old filling. But after escaping the office I decided to go and luckily my friends Margot and Heather waited.
I remember thinking during the ride that Jazz was a little lethargic but I put it down to the heavy snow. He wasn't raring to go when we turned to gallop up the orchard rows but it was hard going. It wasn't a long ride and he didn't even work up much of a sweat so I quickly rubbed him down, put on his blanket and turned him out. Sometime that night he got colicky and Heather called the vet out. He had a large obstruction in his intestines and was given a painkiller in hopes he wouldn't roll and twist his gut. On Tuesday I went up to walk him, he had had a dose of mineral oil and the idea was to get him moving in hopes the obstruction would move as well. We walked up and down the road in the wind and snow. I talked, he listened and I told him he had to make an effort. It felt like when the boys were babies and everything depended on the next bowel movement - when, how big it was, the consistency? All the things mothers obsess over.
California Boy in the Snow
We walked morning and afternoon with a neighbour kindly doing the midday shift. He didn't seem to be in a lot of pain but that was probably the medication masking it. No BM Tuesday or Wednesday and he wasn't eating anything. Another visit from the vet on Wednesday and more mineral oil. A suggestion was made to take him down to the equine clinic at the University of Guelph for an ultra sound but at age 25 it wasn't as if we were going to put him through the trauma (not to mention the cost) of surgery if they were to find anything. So we kept walking and talking.
Thursday he passed an oily BM which was a sign that things were beginning to move internally and we were optimistic but Friday morning he spiked a fever which went steadily up all day, he was obviously in pain despite the meds and I spent my time in the stall kneeling in the stall with his head hanging down in my lap. He barely noticed when I moved or one of the dogs went by. I talked to him and told him spring was coming and soon we'd be riding in the orchards filled with apple blossoms and galloping through the fields.
At the Beach
Jazz was a California boy who had never seen snow until he retired to Canada which I know is backwards and being a Trotter he always had a bit of trouble forgetting his training and getting into a canter or gallop but if there was light, fluffy powder he do it without any prodding from me.
Saturday the fever had broken and he seemed in better spirits, we walked again and I kept talking about spring and telling him the sooner he got better the sooner he could get back outside with his friends.
Strangely, each time I left him last week I felt like I might be saying goodbye for the last time but on Saturday I was hopeful, his eyes seemed brighter and he was more alert so I wasn't worried when I couldn't go up on Sunday as the boys the Club Championship races all day and when I spoke to Heather Sunday evening she said he had eaten a little so she had let him outside for an hour and was cautiously optimistic as well.
On a Horse with a View
Monday morning was mayhem as we rushed to get Number One out the door to the bus to go to the Provincials and the other two off to school. The call came right in the middle of it all. Heather, who is one of the most down to earth, no nonsense people I know was in tears on the phone and when she told me that Jazz has died sometime in the night it was all I could do to thank her for everything and then hang up. Cam & Griff tried to comfort me but I just had to get them off to school so I could go up to the barn to say goodbye.
I won't get into all the terrible details of what it means when a 1200lb horse dies in an old barn in the middle of winter but that is the sort of stuff you have to deal with on top of all the emotion. Heather was incredible and Margot's husband, Charlie took charge and, with a neighbour, figured out the logistics. I am sad that Jazz can't be buried at the farm when he spent the last 11 years but he will always be there in spirit. After I said goodbye to him I went out into the paddock to be with the other horses, especially Molly & Casper, Margot & Heather's horses, with whom we always rode.
Casper & Jazz
We always joked that riding together was our therapy, better than shopping and easier on the liver than drinking. I spent Monday afternoon putting together an album of photos from the last three years of riding together. Jazz and I were very lucky to find each other at this stage in our lives. Riding gave me a sense of peace and as I once said to Margot, "it feeds my soul." I've never had anything else like that in my life, I don't run or paint or do much of anything else but riding and being with Jazz gave me something that I didn't get from anyone else.
I don't know if I will find another horse to share that with again. I'm not even sure if I want to, at least not right now.
Jazz King 1988 - 2013