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The Beginning of the End

September 22, 2008

Granola bars dipped in molasses for Alibar

My beloved horse Alibar was diagnosed with lymphosarcoma on September 8, 2008. He was not eating for a few days and his breathing sounded labored. After two visits and some bloodwork, my local veterinarians recommended sending him to our equine clinic for further diagnostics.

We shipped Alibar to Mid Atlantic Equine. They did an ultrasound on his chest cavity. There was a lot of fluid. The vet recommended draining the chest cavity. They pulled about 15 gallons of fluid out of his chest. They also sampled blood and checked the cells in the fluid in his chest and abdomen. Cells counts did not indicate infection like pneumonia, but they did indicate something cancerous. They also x-rayed his chest and could see little spider-webby things, but no large masses. Putting everything together, the vet concluded that it is most likely lymphosarcoma.

We kept the drain on his side to keep the fluid from coming back. If we took the drain out, the fluid would have filled back up in about 24-48 hours.

Saying Goodbye

Alibar was his usual charming self at the clinic and the vet staff was marvelling at his shiny coat, condition, and bright expression. When he stepped off the trailer at the clinic, his head was raised, ears pricked, and there was a little arch in his neck as if he was looking for the jumper show. He is still his normal self, which was sad to see but comforting in some strange way.

Part of me was totally prepared for this and part of me was totally blindsided.

Alibar’s last days were filled with peace and he was surrounded by an extended family of people who dearly loved him.

Tuesday morning, we shipped him back home from the equine clinic. When we unloaded him from the trailer, the rear bar was accidentally unfastened before he was untied. He quietly and professionally snapped the throat strap on his halter and unloaded himself from the trailer. He stood there for a moment with no halter on his head, a clever but gentle troublemaker to the very end- I can tell many tales of all of the pieces of tack that he’s broken. He stood quietly while I looped the leadrope around his neck and led him to the barn- he pranced for just a few steps before settling back down to a more sensible walk.

We stayed with Alibar all day on Tuesday, and let him do everything he wished. When he wanted to come out, he’d walk to his stall door and we’d halter him and take him out. I wanted to get a few final photos of Alibar- they were all taken on his terms. I stood back from Alibar and let him graze. When something caught his attention, I snapped a few frames. In this photo, he’s watching some of my barn friends play with their dog. I love the bit of grass in his mouth, his beard of whiskers, his curly and tiny ears, and the soft expression on his face.

He led us around the farm, quietly grazing- we swatted any fly that dared to come near him. When he wanted to nap, he would lead us to his stall and we’d put a fan on him to keep him cool. He did not have an appetite for grain, but he grazed for many hours and would only eat treats if they were presented to him by hand- an apple in his bucket was not acceptable.

We conjured up every horse treat imaginable for Alibar to enjoy. My best friend Melissa visited with a bag of goodies from the store, including granola bars and a jar of molasses. We dipped the granola bar in molasses and Alibar ate it like it was the most savory treat he’s ever had.

All day long, friends stopped by the barn to give him a hug and say their final goodbyes. Some had known him for years and some only met him a few months ago. The boarders at the new barn have grown to love him in the short time that he’s lived here. Friends from my old barn who were little girls when they met him are now in their early 20s; they told stories of him chasing them on their first days of working at the farm. Alibar’s first owner visited him; she got him as a weanling and she told stories of his trainer calling him a cannibal because of the many people he bit.

My grandma visited- she’s 88 years old and she has known Alibar as long as I have. She has ridden him many times over the years.

On Tuesday night, there was a small but lively celebration in our barn. Some of my most fun friends gathered by Alibar’s stall. We set up chairs and shared memories and jokes. He stood in his stall and snoozed on his deep and comfy bedding, head low and one hind leg tilted.

At first, I wanted to let Alibar have total peace and quiet for the whole evening, but I was reminded that his normal evenings involved a barn full of giggling girls sitting on hay bales outside his stall. He’s not the most affectionate horse in the world, but he’s always been very social. Whenever he saw a group of people he’d walk over to us and stand, usually not to be pet but to just be with us- he seemed to enjoy hanging around all of the barn jokes and gossip.

The Alibar party slowly dwindled. I was left with Alibar and Melissa. He walked over to the door of his stall, ears forward. I stood by his side and pet him as long as he wanted. We then took him out to graze under the stars. The night was clear and cool and the slowed song of the crickets announced the end of summer- the seasons are changing. Melissa and I gave Alibar our goodnight hugs and tucked him in for the night with fresh water, newly-made hay cubes, and turned-over bedding.

Early Wednesday morning, Christie, my good friend and second mom to Alibar, brought him out to graze. When they reached the sandy riding arena, Alibar dove to the ground and had a good old-fashioned horsey roll and then began eating again. He still had a good appetite for grass, but he moved a bit more slowly than he had the day before. The drain was still keeping his chest clear of fluid and his breathing normal- through the wonders of veterinary medicine, we were able to keep him very comfortable and give him one last day of peace and affection. His body was fading but he was full of personality until the very end. He never lost the sparkle in his eyes or the priceless Alibar expressions.

When he had his fill of grazing, he led me and Christie to his paddock. It was a beautiful September day. The sky was clear, the sun was warm, and there was a gentle breeze. All of the horses were in their paddocks, some taking naps and some were munching hay.

For almost a decade, we could not feed any hay to Alibar. He had very bad molars and could not digest hay properly- any hay would give him an impaction colic. We kept him healthy and happy on soaked hay cubes and it was Barn Rule #1 not to give Alibar any hay whatsoever. A barn friend who owns King, Alibar’s paddock neighbor, asked if she could give him a flake of hay on his last day. She brought a big, beautiful flake of hay in his paddock- it was the good stuff, the kind that you could practically put a little vinaigrette on and eat yourself. Alibar pushed his nose into the middle of the hay and blissfully ate this forbidden treat, his eyes closing happily from time to time.

Another barn friend had a handful of Stud Muffins, Alibar’s favorite horse treats. He ate them like bonbons. After his delicious snacks, he walked to his loafing shed and took a nap for about 45 minutes. Then he walked to the corner of his paddock by the shade trees and stood contentedly with his horsey friend, Harmony. They stood together for a very long time, enjoying each other’s company in that wonderful way that horses do.

Alibar came back to the gate of the paddock and we let him come back out to graze. He led me to the most succulent grass and I stood with my hand on his side and back, just enjoying the feel of the strong body that had carried me so far and so fast.

The veterinarian called to let me know that she was on her way. My knees weakened for a moment, knowing what was going to happen.

All afternoon, Alibar and I shared the company of my mom, Christie (Alibar’s leaser/second owner of 13+ years), Diane (Alibar’s first owner who gave Alibar to me), Cathy (barn friend of over a decade and huge fan of Alibar), Jim Reilly, longtime trainer and horsemanship mentor, and my devoted and wonderful husband Jonathan. Boarders and barn staff stopped by to give Alibar hugs and pats.

When the veterinarian arrived, I told her that I wanted to keep Alibar in the soft grassy area where he had spent his afternoon. I also let her know that I was prepared to stand with Alibar and hold him when she euthanized him. She explained the process to our group of friends so that they would be prepared for what they would see. An animal as large as a horse sometimes does not go as peacefully as cats or dogs.

I stood by Alibar’s side, leaning my forehead on his face temple to temple, with my arm around his big jaw. The veterinarian tranquilized him- he became quite sleepy and I cradled his head. She then gave him the final dose of barbituate and took hold of his halter with both hands- with the strength of a weight lifter and the grace of a ballerina, she gently coaxed his body downward. She folded his legs at just the right moment and then he was peacefully on his side with both of us crouched beside him. The veterinarian checked him, looked me in the eyes, and solemnly announced, “He’s gone”.

Our gathering of loved ones each walked up and gave the most wonderful horse in the world a final pat.

When I stood up and looked around, I got a cold chill: Every single horse on the farm had been watching us. They gave a small chorus of whinnies.

I’m comfortable with all of the decisions that I made and I’m proud of the way that I cared for Alibar until the bitter end. Tending to his every need was very cathartic.

Alibar will be cremated and I plan to scatter his ashes at all of our favorite special little places. Our adventures took us through the neighborhoods, state parks, horse shows, fox hunts, and farms of New Jersey and I feel like it will give me great peace to go back to these places in memory of my incredible friend. A friend from the barn gave me a beautiful pear tree and I plan to plant in Alibar’s memory in a special place.

Our little equine funeral party left the farm and I was left with Christie and my mom; along with Diane, we are the people who knew Alibar best and loved him the most. We organized the tack trunk and fussed with horses on the farm- the horses were friendly but they got bored and did not have the same sweet horsey smell that Alibar did.

Mom and Christie left and I puttered around the barn a little longer. I shut the barn lights off and headed to my car when I suddenly felt the deepest sorrow that my soul has ever felt.

I’ve been told by my friends that Alibar and I have a special bond that many people never experience in their lifetimes. I have always appreciated this comment but I never truly understood what it meant until yesterday. There was an understanding between us that was so subtle and so deep- I knew his every move and he knew mine.

Alibar was a gentle and smart teacher- he never bit me, kicked me, or stepped on me. He let me goof around on him- I could ride under a tree and lift myself off his back and hang on a tree branch. Every boyfriend I ever dated has ridden Alibar. He carried my niece when she was a toddler, my aunt, my uncle, my grandma, my mom, my dad, and dozens of friends. He taught me how to be a proper horsewoman- I took so much pride in his training, grooming, and health. The grief will be here for a long time, but there is a beautiful feeling whenever I learn all of the ways that I loved him.

I had written Alibar’s story several months ago for The Ultimate Horse Lover, a book that will be coming out this fall. The story will stay the same, but I did dedicate all of my photos in the book to his memory. He was my original photographic muse, after all.

Gina Spadafori, author of Dogs for Dummies, pet columnist, etc, wrote a lovely tribute to Alibar on her blog.

For those of you who are fortunate enough to have your own “Alibar” in your life right now, whether it’s a horse, cat, ferret, dog, bird, or any other creature, please give him/her a little love for me. And maybe a granola bar dipped in molasses.

A beautiful chapter of my life has ended and a new one is beginning. It is time to chronicle the legend of Alibar and to use the lessons that he taught me.

79 Comments leave one →
  1. Patty Darland permalink
    October 2, 2008 1:36 am

    Dear Sarah,
    I sit here with tears falling down my face. Your heartfelt story of the loss of your wonderful friend Alibar is so emotional and sad. As another horselover and owner for most of my life, I truly feel for you. In my humble opinion, horses are the most special creatures God gave us to enjoy! The beautiful pictures and memories you have of Alibar will be here for you every day. In a lush green meadow, with cool clear water running down the hill, your magnificent friend Alibar and my dear friends Drifter and Yeller are playing and calling to one another. And one day, I hope you and I can meet and enjoy a ride together in Heaven…

    Sincerely,

    Patty Darland

  2. Billee permalink
    October 10, 2008 6:06 am

    What a beautiful story. I am crying like he was my own horse. You were blessed to have such a wonderful horse. He was blessed to have you as an owner. Every horse should have a last day like your Alibar. I am going out to the barn early today to spend a little extra time with my horses. You have helped me remember how blessed I am to actually get to own horses. Thank you for sharing.

  3. October 10, 2008 6:21 am

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful and very moving story of Alibar’s final days. I share my life with many horses, a number of them in their twilight years. They are my very special treasures and I shall ensure that I now make a little extra time for them tomorrow for you and in your Alibar’s memory.

    Do not stand at my grave and weep.
    I am not there. I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow;
    I am the diamond glints on snow;
    I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
    I am the gentle autumn rain.

    When you awaken in the morning hush
    I am the quick uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circling flight.
    I am the soft star that shines at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry.
    I am not there, I did not die.

    Mary Frye 1932

  4. Brandi permalink
    October 10, 2008 6:27 am

    Sarah,

    God bless your soul for being the best possible human you could be to your gentleman Alidar. While the sore of sorrow is gaping wide open right now, the pain will subside and you will be able to look back fondly on all your years with Alidar with a smile on your face and a happy heart. He was a very special horse and you obviously loved him to no end.

    Brandi

  5. Jane permalink
    October 10, 2008 6:33 am

    What a beautiful testament to your love and excellent care of this wonderful horse. You gave him a good life and death, this is what all animals in our care should have, but sadly so many do not.

    You have my greatest respect.

  6. October 10, 2008 7:14 am

    What a wonderful gal you are to have loved him so dearly and to care for him as you did till the end. I have been in your shoes, but never forget when you feel breath on your neck – he’s saying hello. 🙂

  7. Maggie permalink
    October 10, 2008 7:53 am

    Alibar was a lucky horse. You are a wonderful person.

  8. October 10, 2008 8:02 am

    What a beautiful last day for a beautiful horse. He sure was a lucky boy although I’m sure you will say that you were the lucky one. I feel your pain… I too am working through a recent loss. Hopefully the good memories will soon have you smiling again.

    Jen

  9. Kate permalink
    October 10, 2008 8:54 am

    I read this story here at work, and I’m sobbing at my desk; the tears are half happiness that Alibar had such an amazing life and such a dignified and joyous end. We should all be so lucky. Many blessings to you, and thank you for sharing your amazing stories and pictures with us.

  10. October 10, 2008 9:05 am

    Your post made me so sad and feel so good at the same time. Alibar was so lucky to have you in his life… I hope I will be able to make my horse’s final days as peaceful and wonderful as you made his. My guy is only 17, but he will remain with me no matter what.
    Many Hugs.

  11. October 10, 2008 9:14 am

    Dear Sarah,
    I did not know your Alibar, but instead heard of your story on FHOTD. I came here to read this, and you’ve got me in tears. It’s been 11 months since I put my guy down. Like Alibar’s, his last few days were filled with love and all the grass he could handle. His favorite thing was galloping around our big field, but the reason we were putting him down, his leg injury, had prevented that for a long time. The hour before the vet arrived, I got on him and let him run as fast as he could with my tears streaming.

    There’s a new horse in my life, but missing Harley doesn’t get any easier – in a way, I’m glad. I’d like to never forget the love that I feel for him.

    “Ellie” will get some grazing time and special treats today to celebrate Alibar and Harley as it’s a beautiful day up here in Rhode Island.

    Good luck, and thank you-
    Codi

  12. Lisa Sintic permalink
    October 10, 2008 9:45 am

    Dear Sarah,

    I too, read this with tears rolling down my face. What a perfect final couple days for any horse, and what a beautifully written tribute to that time. I have recently lost two wonderful old horses (one of which was my first horse) at the ages of 31 and 35. Alibar sounds like he was a wonderful horse, too. Isn’t it a shame that they live through so much, teach so much to us, and give us so many great memories only to be taken away from us in what seems to be the prime of our lives together? It will take a long time to heal, but I like to imagine all those wonderful old horses running together until we can join them again. Enjoy the memories and the beautiful photos forever!

    Sincerely,
    Lisa Sintic

  13. October 10, 2008 9:54 am

    Sarah,

    I found your account of Alibar’s last day though the FUGLY blog. How wonderful it must have been to know him, and how your heart must ache in his absence. Thank you for sharing this with us. I am sending you my thoughts and support in this difficult time, and hope that you will find another special soul that can ease this heartache, and allow you to share the gifts that Alibar left with you.

    I cannot imagine how hard this was to write, but I am so grateful that you did. I do have an “Alibar” in my life. Misty is 25 and I know the day is coming, I dread it everyday because I just cannot imagine my life without her. However, through your experience, I know I will never truly be without her.

    Sincerely,
    SOS Horses

  14. Judy permalink
    October 10, 2008 10:08 am

    God bless you for taking such good care of this wonderful horse!!!

  15. Vandy permalink
    October 10, 2008 10:15 am

    Sarah,
    Every true horseman wishes that all horses had an owner as kind and caring as Alibar’s. It is so beautiful to hear about the magical bond you shared with him.

    Yesterday I put down my beloved “Special”. His last morning was much like Alibar’s: visits from his human friends, all the treats he could eat, and lots of love from all around. We joked that the veterinarian had better arrive on time, because Special would have had quite the tummy ache from all the treats and forbidden Alfalfa he’d gotten!

    I’d like to share with you the note I received from Special’s previous owner yesterday, because it seems so fitting to your situation too:

    Thank You!
    Thank You for caring enough to share. Thank You for creating a warm safe place to live in peace.
    Thank You for providing food enough to thrive.
    Thank You for providing medical attention when needed.
    Thank You for showing compassion.
    Thank You for making the hard decision and doing the Right Thing.
    Thank You for being a Good Human Being.
    In the Bible when it is mentioned that God Created the Animal Kingdom and then gave Man Dominion over it, I believe he must have meant what you have so beautifully exemplified.

    Rest in Peace, Alibar, and Thank You Sarah.

    Best,
    Vandy

  16. Lisa permalink
    October 10, 2008 10:19 am

    What a sad, but truly beautiful story. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Jen permalink
    October 10, 2008 11:14 am

    Bless you for what you did for your beloved Alibar. I wish all owners were as responsible, as kind, as dedicated to their animal’s well-being and comfort. Although this account made me cry, it also left me feeling strangely happy. You did right by your friend and I hope other people are inspired by your example to do the same. I hope that the days I have to bid my dear dog and pony farewell are far off, but when they come, I hope I can handle the situation with equal poise and grace. Although I’m not a religious person, I do believe that there is “something” else, and I bet Alibar is somewhere kicking up his heels and eating all the hay he wants–and thanking you for the lifetime of love and comfort you provided him with, up to his very last day.

  18. June permalink
    October 10, 2008 12:16 pm

    Your story is so beautiful and sad at the same time. I am facing euthanizing my first horse who is now 32 years old. He has lost so much weight over the summer (we did blood work and had his teeth checked and everything looked perfectly normal) that he only has a small chance of making it thru a harsh NW Pennsylvania winter. Right now, he is happy and eating like a pig (but not gaining any weight). We are letting him do whatever he wants to do to ensure that he enjoys his last days as much as possible.

    My husband and I cannot even talk about this without breaking into tears but your story has given me hope that I, too, will be able to get thru this with strength – knowing that I am doing the best thing for my beloved horse.

    We also have a 38-year-old and, though he is in better condition, we know that we may not have him much longer, either.

    When they cross the “Rainbow Bridge”, they will be met by all of the other animals who are patiently awaiting reunions with their humans and will forever be living in lush pastures with blue skies and none of their earthly torments.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story.

  19. October 10, 2008 12:35 pm

    Wonderful tribute to a great horse. Thank yo for doing right by him. I know exactly what you have gone through as I went through a similar experience myself when I euthanized my mare back in June. It played out in a similar fashion. Ariel is running free with your Alibar.

  20. October 10, 2008 12:48 pm

    I trotted over here from Fugly Horse blog just thinking I’d read a nice story about an owner saying goodbye to a special horse. And I thought I’d just read and move on.

    And now I am sitting here sobbing with the deepest ache in my heart…for you, for Alibar, for everyone who has known him, and mostly for the deep and abiding relationship the two of you shared.

    Your story of Alibar’s last days totally touched my heart and moved me in a way that I wasn’t prepared for.

    Thank you and bless you all,
    ~Lisa

  21. Gail permalink
    October 10, 2008 12:53 pm

    Another FUGLY reader here and so glad she provided the link. What a wonderful gift you gave Alibar, yourself, and all your friends. I vow to do the same for all the creatures in my present life and future.

    Somewhere in time’s own space
    There must be some sweet pastured place
    where creeks sing on and tall trees grow
    some paradise where horses go
    For by the love that guides my pen
    I know great horses live again.
    -Author unknown

    Gail

  22. Sarah permalink
    October 10, 2008 1:13 pm

    Sarah,
    You are so lucky to have had him such a long time and to have just that “special bond” that your friends talked about. You gave him the life he could only dream of. I can only try the best with my horse I have right now. He has an infection of 2 joints in the lower hock, that is just not getting better. If the day comes that I have to put him down, I will remember you and this story, and try to give him the last few days that you gave Alibar.

    Best of luck in the future,
    Sarah.

  23. Brittany permalink
    October 10, 2008 1:35 pm

    I am also a FUGLY reader, and am also so thrilled that she linked us.

    I was able to experience my own “Alibar”, my first horse, and understand the deep pain you are feeling. I had to make that same hard (but right) decision in February. Reading your blog freshened the same loss, and I am so incredibly happy that you were able to be there for him in his last moments and days. I know that right now, any thought is liable to reopen the wound. I have no words of comfort for you, because I am going through the rough part of it right now. I can tell you that it is hard to even look sideways at another horse, but it helps. And it’s difficult to say the least to even think about getting back in the saddle and forming another bond, but it’s healing in its own right. I can tell you that wherever Alibar is, he remembers that his last moments were knowing that the people he loved best were by his side, and he would thank you for that, and so do I.

    I truly believe that we are all so blessed to have these magnificent creatures in our lives to love us. It is our duty and responsibility, and it should be our pleasure, to see to their every need, even when it comes down to the hardest decisions of all.

    Thank you for being so kind to Alibar in his last hours and letting him experience life as he knew it. It is healing for all involved. I wish you the best in the coming months.

  24. October 10, 2008 2:03 pm

    Well handled and well done.

    It’s hard to have to make that decision and too often I see animals left to suffer because a misguided owner thinks it’s best to let them go ‘naturally’.

  25. Sally permalink
    October 10, 2008 4:31 pm

    Hi. You’re going to get an AWFUL lot of replies from us Fugly readers.

    That is the most beautiful tribute I’ve ever read. It’s clear from the very first word how special that horse was to you, and how deeply you cared for him. How lucky he was to have been so loved! What a wonderful last day, and BLESS YOU for the sacrifices you made to keep him healthy and happy, and the loyalty you displayed in keeping him till the very end of his life.

    You made the best, most responsible, most difficult decision any animal lover/owner can make.

    I am no longer fortunate enough to own horses, but your story brought me to tears remembering my “soul dog”, Roscoe, who I had to let go last year due to kidney failure. I too, made sure his last day was a special one, and I held his big old head and comforted him until the end, when I let my tears spill into his soft fur and told him goodbye.

    We’ll never forget them, will we? (((hugs to you)))

  26. Niki permalink
    October 10, 2008 4:36 pm

    Hiya,

    (another fugly reader)

    I so sympathise – a beautiful and moving account of a very special person and a very special bond you had. I said goodbye in almost exactly the same way to my old friend and soulmate Fizz just over 13months ago. He was in his 30’s. I had a whole summer with him, he even set the date himself for when he wanted to go. I miss him so so much, but I treasure that last summer with him, and that last day when I just lay in his pasture and spent time with him, and also the photographs of our last day together.

    A friend used one of these photos for an oil portrait of him – I knew nothing about it til it was presented to me – its a very special reminder and tribute to an amazing and perfect friend.

    Aren’t we lucky to have been owned by them?

    Hugs

    Niki x

  27. Gill permalink
    October 10, 2008 4:47 pm

    I am now sobbing, with tears streaming down my face after reading this. I too had a beloved horse p.t.s. five years ago, after owning her for almost 20 years. I gave her a similar kind of farewell as you have done, although I could not have put it into words as well as you have. Thankyou for sharing, and thankyou to Fugly for linking this. Remember your special friend, I’m sure he knew you were the best owner he could have had.

  28. Susan permalink
    October 10, 2008 6:27 pm

    A beautiful tribute. My heart was happy and sad at the same time. My sympathy on having to say goodbye to your wonderful horse – but you have certainly made many of us re-evaluate and remember why we have horses. I’m headed to the barn to give Hershey a hug and a kiss and I’ll tell him about Alibar. Hershey is also a spotless Appaloosa – I can’t believe I’ve had him almost six years already – and our relationship gets deeper every day.

    Thank you for sharing your story and your wonderful photos.

  29. oregonsunshine permalink
    October 10, 2008 7:14 pm

    Dear Sarah,

    And yet another FHOTD reader here.

    Your poignant tribute comes at a time during ongoing discussions with my husband over how I want our horse(s) to cross when their time comes.

    I am glad that you met Alibar and he clearly made your heart happy. More, I believe that you made his happy as well.

    My deepest sympathies and condolences to you and yours.

  30. LeAnne permalink
    October 10, 2008 7:16 pm

    My girl is 36 this year and I only hope that when her time comes I can handle it with as much dignity and kindness that you have shown your boy. I can’t imagine the pain you are going thru, but knowing that he had you in his life right to the end, ready to always do the right thing for him has to bring you some measure of peace.
    Just know that he is watching you from afar and ready to show you his new cloud filled pasture when you meet again.

  31. Chloe permalink
    October 10, 2008 8:03 pm

    I’m going to have to fix my makeup, lol. I’ve been crying for the past half hour.
    I’ve been crying so much because your beautiful Alibor mirrors the old horse I used to ride named Monty. He was a retired racehorse, but God was he a fantastic gelding. He was so well trusted that he could walk around the entire stables and area without anyone watching him, but all he would do was go over to his favorite tree and rub his back on it. He was so old… he was the first horse I’d ever ridden, and he was well over 25 when he died. No one told me about it when they put him down, and that’s probably one of the hardest parts of his death- was that I couldn’t be there to see him go. As hard as it was, you were lucky to be with your boy when his time came. He knew he was in good hands, I’m sure.
    I feel your pain, and I know that your boy will be sorely missed. He was quite gorgeous- the picture you took of him watching your friends play with their dog was absolutely stunning. He was a beautiful horse, to be sure.
    God bless you, my friend.<3

  32. Roo permalink
    October 10, 2008 8:43 pm

    That was beautiful. I dearly hope it inspires others to keep their oldies and provide them with that same peaceful passing after a wonderful day with those who loved them.

    Thank you.

  33. Jean permalink
    October 10, 2008 9:06 pm

    I lost a beloved horse with whom I had the same kind of bond. The ache lingered for a long time, until the day I told him it was time to go and that I was OK. I am totally convinced his spirit was staying at my side until that moment when I was ready to really face the world without him.

    You will never be alone. Alibar will always be right next to your heart.

  34. gina permalink
    October 10, 2008 10:55 pm

    Like everyone else I am sitting here crying. This is the second time today I read your beautiful goodbye to Alibor.

    He was so fortunate to have you in his life, as you were fortunate to have him.

    Remember all the wonderful times you had together, the memories will help ease the sorrow.

  35. Kathy permalink
    October 10, 2008 11:18 pm

    You did right by him.

  36. patti permalink
    October 11, 2008 12:34 am

    it is good to be loved by a horse…a heart, it has been said, by an oh so wise wizard seeker…… a heart is not judged by how much it loves, but by how much it is loved by others…

    A horse heart, that was well loved. The gift of the ages.

  37. Hannah permalink
    October 11, 2008 1:03 am

    …that was so touching. I nearly cried, and I do not cry easily, and especially not from the stories of complete strangers.

    You are an amazing person to stick with him to the end.

    I’m going to hug my horse tomorrow, and remind her that she’s fantastic and will always have a place in my heart…and remind her that I love her.

    Thank you.

  38. sodaverde permalink
    October 11, 2008 11:35 am

    I’m amazed how you could write. My cat died a week ago and I still can’t find all the pieces of myself in order to write down.

  39. Sharon permalink
    October 11, 2008 1:58 pm

    More tears here in New Zealand. Thank you for sharing your story, it is beautifully written and hugely inspiring. I will be sending it to all my horsey friends.
    I only hope I can be half as brave as you when my Penny goes.

    A wise man once said that one of the hardest things in life is that we outlive too many dogs and horses.

  40. October 11, 2008 4:59 pm

    Linked from Fugley, I thought I would read a touching horse story. Here I am, sobbing, wiping away the tears. Not only was your story touching, but filled with so much love and compassion for your equine partner. Thank you for sharing .

  41. October 11, 2008 5:43 pm

    Sarah,
    I’m so sorry for your loss but the way you said good bye is so beautiful. Every pet in the world should be so lucky.
    I understand your bond with Alibar. I have the same with my mare. I’m going to treat her to her favorite granola bar dipped in molasses in Alibar’s memory.
    Stacey

  42. Lin permalink
    October 11, 2008 5:57 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. Alibar’s story brought tears to my eyes. I’ve experienced your pain…I had to put my best friend, my beloved first horse, down three years ago. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but it was the right decision to end her pain.

    I am, however, also so happy your beautiful horse had such a wonderful life with you. I hope his memories and spirit comfort you during this time. God bless you for taking such good care of your horse. He’ll always live in your heart. *hugs*

  43. johnnybegood permalink
    October 11, 2008 7:31 pm

    I don’t usually read blog posts featured on the wordpress frontpage, but i read through your whole story and i just wanted to say it’s very beautiful and emotional. Thank you for sharing it.

  44. Candace permalink
    October 11, 2008 11:13 pm

    I’m shedding tears right now for how beautiful your relationship was. Every bit of how much you loved your horse was in that tribute you have shared with us. I have no horse of my own but I have formed special bonds with a few horses who have come through my life. It’s a special thing to share. I truly hope that one day your pain will lessen and you remember the happy memories and times.

  45. October 11, 2008 11:29 pm

    What a moving tribute to a wonderful horse. My best friend and I lament having to be “god” and making the choice about the end of our dear friends. Your tribute to Alibar certainly touches a spot in all animal lovers.
    Keep your memories close and cherish the time you had with him.

    MISS ME – BUT LET ME GO

    When I come to the end of the road

    And the sun has set for me

    I want no rites in a gloom filled room

    Why cry for a soul set free?

    Miss me a little – but not too long

    And not with your head bowed low

    Remember the love that we once shared

    Miss Me – But Let Me Go

    For this is a journey that we all must take

    And each must go alone

    It’s all a part of the Master’s plan

    A step on the road to home

    When you are lonely and sick of heart

    Go to the friends we know

    And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds

    Miss Me – But Let Me Go

    Author Unknown

    This is the poem I used for the tribute page to my APBT Indy; lost to us; well before the joys of old age.
    http://www.firstdogofftheporch.ca/indy

  46. kim permalink
    October 12, 2008 1:49 am

    I give you my deepest sympathy. As I read your story, tears streamed down my face. You did right by your friend and unfortunalty I will have to do the same for mine when the time comes. That’s the hardest part about being a pet owner. Letting them go.

  47. October 12, 2008 2:24 am

    I enjoyed your blog, good to know others feel about their horses as I do.
    Mine had a good life, but not as good an ending as yours. At 33, one of her spinal vertebrae came apart. She had been collapsed in her stall for hours before she was discovered. I eventually managed to get her up on her feet using an automotive chain hoist. The vet just arrived, and the mare wobbily followed me out to the driveway to her final rest without a halter, as she always did for the vet and farrier. It was all very sudden, and very strange.
    My brother’s unexpected death later in the month
    made it a very trying time.

  48. Lalaith permalink
    October 12, 2008 6:44 am

    I almost did not have the heart to come and read this story when I saw the link on the Fugly blog, but I am glad I did after all – even though I am now crying for the losses, yours and mine and everybody’s who has left a comment. Thank you for sharing.

    I had my first horse p.t.s. almost exactly two years ago and he was to me what Alibar was to you – the best friend in the whole world who made me happy every day just by looking at me with the expression that said “You are my human”. It’s such a priviledge to be loved by a horse (though the non horsey people will not understand it, and it is their loss). My dear Gelding was a dressage horse who really loved his work. His fragile legs had turned him mostly to a pasture pet long ago, but on his last day I took him to the arena all polished and he arched his neck and did the final half pass whinnying in delight because he knew he was beautiful and everyone was watching him just like he loved to. When it was time, he went gracefully with his head in my arms. I will never stop missing him, and you will never stop missing Alibar but I hope you will find new horses in your life. I think I have found mine – the Mare I already had during the Gelding’s life and who was always the second one then was such a comfort after he was gone, and now I think I can see the same expression in her eyes. From where I am sitting now, I can see the mound we buried the Gelding under. The rowan tree on it has turned golden in the crisp air, I think of Alibar, of my Gelding and the Mare, and it is a beautiful day.

  49. Kimi permalink
    October 13, 2008 1:04 am

    Thank you for sharing your touching story.
    I just found out that my horse that I had owned has the same disease. I sadly sold him 4yrs ago, due to my severe lyme disease. We were so lucky to have had him all 9yrs we did. My husband ended up as Sunny’s person. He was the best horse we owned and a beautiful golden palomino. He took care of my girls and my husband, who are inexperienced. Sunny did what we asked and loved trying new stuff, from jumping to barrel racing.
    I haven’t told my husband yet, he will be crushed.
    I still don’t know if I should visit him, or just remember him as he was. He has a wonderful home, with a very kind lady. Her husband rides him.
    Do you think I should tell my husband before Sunny leaves? I don’t know if I will regret NOT telling him about the cancer. What if he does want the chance to say goodbye?

  50. Anna permalink
    October 13, 2008 4:40 pm

    I am absolutely bawling on this side of the world. What a beautiful memory. My horse went in a very similar peaceful fashion after 20 wonderful years together and every day since he’s gone I thank the starts that I was able to give him (and myself) the dignified ending he deserved. I also held him until he was gone and it was the hardest thing I ever did. Reading your blog has brought it all back and I find myself sobbing agani. But I know later on I’ll pull out some photo albums and have a laugh and a cry. Because he’ll never be forgotten just like Alibar will never be forgotten. And we know we never ever ever would let them feel hurt and fear and neglect. You’re a wonderful person.

  51. October 13, 2008 5:01 pm

    What an amazing individual you are – I can only imagine the pain and sorrow you are going through. Like many others I’ve been left in tears by your words. Thank you for giving a wonderful horse a wonderful ending.

  52. Megan permalink
    October 13, 2008 6:28 pm

    Sarah,
    Wow. That was so touching, I still sit here crying. One of my favorite creatures is a 27 year old Dutch Warmblood. I know his time is coming too.
    Never forget Alilbar is looking down from heaven, watching over you.

  53. October 13, 2008 7:01 pm

    As has been said over and over… a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to Alibar, to yourself, and to the incredible relationship you have shared. Thank you for your generous sharing with all of us. Our animals (globally) are teaching us continually. Some are listening and growing and sharing, like you.

  54. vroya permalink
    October 13, 2008 11:56 pm

    Over the years, I’ve also lost more than my fair share of best friends, but never was I able to give them such an eloquent tribute… Thank you for that wonderful story… If only they could all be fiction.

  55. Nonnie permalink
    October 14, 2008 9:02 pm

    You did the most responsible thing. I was crying reading this. It’s a hard decision to make …. If all horses could have as much love, caring and compassion the world would be a better place.

    I hope my horses have such a good life and a good end. I’ve made sure it happens that way too.

    You can stand tall with yourself with pride, honor because you honored a commitment and a partnership with Alibar. Hugs… you have my respect!

    Nonnie

  56. Joy Fagan permalink
    October 16, 2008 4:00 pm

    Thank you for telling your story. Like others I also wept. Want to credit these lovely works to their rightful author: (I cry at these words, too.)

    Somewhere…Somewhere in times Own Space
    There must be some sweet pastured place
    Where creeks sing on and tall trees grow
    Some Paradise where horses go,
    For by the love that guides my pen
    I know great horses live again.
    – Stanley Harrison

    I certainly hope he’s right
    Joy

  57. Alison permalink
    October 19, 2008 8:34 am

    Your story of Alibar touched me so much – two years ago on the 23rd of this month I had to have my beautiful horse of a life time euthanized and not one day goes past where I don’t miss him.

    Alibar was lucky to have such a caring owner who put him first, always. I know how hard it is but you know you did what was right for your beautiful boy. I’m so sorry you lost him but you obviously had the most special of bonds.

    Thinking of you and of Alibar.

    Lots of love x

  58. October 27, 2008 1:38 am

    I’ve been flipping thru your archives knowing (and dreading) i would come across this post…like everyone else, it brought me to tears also, and left me thinking about past (and future) horses and and dogs that i have had the honour of knowing…

    thank you for such openness about an intimate and private time…

  59. michelle permalink
    May 25, 2009 7:33 am

    i too sit her with tears streaming down my face, what a beautiful and fitting transition for your friend. My beloved gelding Oliver didme the courtesy on e last time of taking care of me and not making me make the decsion he died in the pasture babysitting a weanling that i of course now own. But i hope that if i had to make the decsion it would have been done with the dignity your story portrays , thank you for sharing .

  60. Taylor permalink
    September 6, 2009 1:28 am

    This is a touching story of a horse and his owner at the final moments. I own my own horses I have 3 and my oldest one is going to gosoon. I am not very rich and can’t give her the best days of her life. she’s deteriorating before my eyes and it hurts me to see her like it and I know its time to let my 36 year old horse go. I am only 15 years old and this horsei only known for 2 years has captured my soul and I will never forget my loving old girl. She was by my side every moment I needed her. My dose of sanity on a insane day. I can’t cremate her cause she’s so big and i can’t bury her on my property so my friend has offered to bury her there. I’m not a very social person and i only have 2 friends well that are people. My horse tillie wa my teacher, My friend, and much more. Just one of the great many horses on this planet

  61. July 14, 2010 9:59 pm

    R.I.P. Alibar you had an owner that every horse deserves.
    Hugs to you Sarah.

  62. January 29, 2011 11:30 am

    Thank you for sharing your story so much because I have the same diagnosis for my little mare Tawny Porter. She also had her lungs drained of about 12 gallons of fluid at a special hospital and now is home with me and her friends. But her breathing is becoming labored as she does not have a drainage tube. I want to try any kind of remedy but her tumor is too close to her heart to inject it with drugs like cisplatin (chemo). And it seems to late to try homeopathic remedies. She is eating apples and also grain intermittently but yesterday her regular breathing i noticed I can hear it, and today my mother said she noticed her sides are “heaving”. I am trying to know when it is time to call the vet. But her bright eyes and pulling me out of the barn to go outside make me feel like she is not ready yet. Thank you for your post ~ It helps me know that ultimately calling the vet for the euthanization is inevitable.

  63. March 15, 2011 10:16 am

    Bawled my eyes out. I’m so glad you were able to give him so much love and such a dignified end. *hugs*

    • June 23, 2011 11:05 pm

      Sarah, I read your beautiful, eloquent words, but more I felt the feelings between them. I can only thank you for sharing this eulogy with me among so many others. I too knew my special love. I will forever remember the feelings that emitted from this piece, “An Ode to Love”. I cannot tell you what this has meant to me; that someone in this world felt the feelings, thought about the life and dignity and tribute to the love of this special friend. I am grateful to you for sharing this. I am in tears but I am also smiling as I know what this love means. Thank you.

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