Mourning- Need advice after my heart horse passed away

I started riding very recently, for about two years, and i was lucky enough to buy myself an OTTB mare. She was… to put it simply she was amazing. She was everything, even though she was only 15 hh she could jump up to 1.30 with ease, she didn’t even know the definition of spooking, any jump she had in front of her she would jump, and she just had the best heart, always took care of me, and she was only 9 years old. I had her for 2 years and before me she had been abused severely so I would like to think that my family and I gave her the best years of her life. She’d never even eaten a carrot and the first time she had one she had been so confused.

Sadly she passed away and I’ve just… I don’t know what to do. I feel distraught, heartbroken, I can’t even think about it without wanting to cry. She passed away after a losing battle with EPM but before that she had had hip problems but she had recovered when suddenly she stopped eating and lost so much weight in less than a week. We found out she had EPM only after it had gotten to the point where she couldn’t swallow due to NS (nervous system) damage and we poured everything we could on her, gave her the best medical care possible and she even started eating again, not much but she was trying. We decided to send her to a ranch where she could rest while still recovering with all her medication in tow and even special food for her. We left her there a week before we got the news. We didn’t even get to visit her in her last moments because we swore she was going to make it and I just don’t know what to do. I feel like I don’t even want to get out of bed because I don’t want to think about how she’s gone.

I feel guilt at not being with her at her final moments, I feel regret I couldn’t even say goodbye, and I hate myself because I feel she just suffered her last month because I was selfish and refused to put her to sleep, I feel she might have hated me because she felt abandoned. I can’t help think I didn’t do enough and I failed her, I feel like I gave up on her and I regret that at certain points during her sickness I felt overwhelmed and frustrated with her for not getting better no matter what I did, I regret every bad thought I had. I just… I don’t know how to cope. What should I do?

I feel your pain. In my case I lost my girl overnight. I had no idea you could lose a horse so quickly. It was such a shock. I cried for 3 days. After that whenever I got in the car I cried. I was grieving.

She is free now and out of pain.

Do not do what I did and stop riding. I have grieved enough for both of us. Open your heart to another horse or take lessons. Don’t let you riding go backwards because of this. Mine did.

I just feel so heartbroken. I can’t believe she’s gone, she was my everything, my heart horse, my teacher, and I tried to ignore the high chance she wouldn’t make it and wanted to just ignore it and I regret it so much. I still have my gelding, my sweet boy, but I can’t help thinking he might also miss her too. They were as thick as thieves those two.

I just… I wanna believe she doesn’t blame me for not being with her her last week but some part of me resents myself for not being by her side 24/7. Logically I understand as a working student it would have been hard but my heartaches.

Yes your heart will ache as I said I cried for 3 days straight and then for ages when in the car to drive.

Horses do not think like we do. They are prey animals. God’s gift to prey animals is that they do not feel pain at the end. They do not feel being eaten by a lion, tiger, crocodile, etc even though to us they seem to be fighting to the end.

She was not thinking of you. She was thinking of food or water or shade or whatever.

She is at peace and running free now. Go out and cry into your geldings mane. He will listen to whatever you want to say.

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First, just know that horses don’t think like we do. They know nothing of guilt or shame or resentment or anything like that. So rest assured that she never thought that way about you. Like Suzie said, she was only thinking about food, water, shade, rest…they only live in the moment.

Second, nothing helps but time. So just take it one day at a time. Focus on getting through an hour. Look for reasons to smile – time with your gelding, your family, playing with dogs, whatever. Enjoy the simple things, only if just a little. It will ease your burden for a moment.

Third, don’t let this stop you from your horse journey. Whenever one of our babies passes, I remind myself that someone else out there needs me now. There are so many that need good, conscientious homes like yours.

Sending love.


I am so sorry for your loss. The hardest part of horse ownership is when we lose them. I agree with the others, horses do not think like humans. I have been trying to teach my daughter this. They live in the moment. They are worried about shade, food, water, grass, and everything that is happening to them in that moment. So at least know, she wasn’t thinking that you weren’t with her in the end, that is a guilt we tend to put on ourselves unnecessarily. Hugs OP.


I read this post and couldn’t help but respond.

My heart goes out to you, OP. My heart horse has four feet on the ground, now, but I also don’t know what I will do when I lose her. Mine has a familiar story to yours as well. It’ll be 5 years come May, and i’ve had to say “goodbye” to her three times, thinking she wouldn’t pull through another emergency trip to the vet…

If it makes you feel better, I will second that horses are prey animals. It would be nice to believe they don’t feel pain at the end. I know you are worried about your mare feeling like you abandoned her, or weren’t there for her when she needed you.

But I’ll tell you a secret: when a horse knows you love them, you are with them forever, and they are with you forever. You never needed to be physically with her, you have always been with her the first moment she knew you loved her, and the first moment she loved you back.

She is all around you and although the pain is raw and new but know that it will pass. It would be a disservice to your girl to hold back the kind of love you showed her. She needs you to give the gift you gave her to another horse, as many horses as you can. It is so, so rare that a horse finds a human like you. So many horses go through their lives unloved and unwanted, more than the ones who finally find love

Horses are love. They love unconditionally. That is all they know how to do: love. They love you for who you don’t know you are yet. Even those humans who show them nothing but cruelty and evil, horses will still love that hair-line sliver of humanity that exists inside them. They are incredible creatures. Your mare knew you loved her - it didn’t matter you weren’t there. She was ready, and she chose that moment to make her wishes known that her time on earth had passed, her mission was completed, and that it’s now time for you to take the lessons you learned from her and give them to another equine who has never felt love, either.

I know this because my horse taught me, too.

Please know that she’s still with you. Allow yourself to feel the smallest senses and internal feelings towards other equines - that’s her pointing the compass of your heart towards your next purpose.

I hope this helps. Big hugs to you. Do not fret - the two of you were meant to find each other.


I’m so sorry for your loss. I don’t have much advice. You gave her a good home and loved her. Not all horses get that. You’ll always have the memories of your time together. Saying goodbye is the downside of having animals- but all the love and joy in the time you had with her is something you’ll always have in your heart, and she’s no longer sick and in pain.

I never owned my heart horse but I loved him to the moon and back. He belonged to my grandfather’s friend. I still have the shoe that ornery turd threw.

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OP, don’t beat yourself up for what you could not do. Give yourself some credit and praise for what you DID do. You made her last years happy, you loved her and did your best for her. There was no need to do more. I do the same thing - you know coulda shoulda woulda but that isn’t logical or even reasonable. She knew you loved her then and she still knows it now.

Please read Animals in Spirit: Our faithful companions’ transition to the afterlife: Smith, Penelope: 8601400437384: Books
I will warn you it’s a tough read (I myself have not been able to make it all the way thru without sobbing) but it’s a good place to start healing and accepting.

So sorry for your loss. RIP good horse.


Oh goodness, yes it’s hard. IN 2019, I had to put down my OTTB of 16 years due to melanoma, which was expected, but I cried all the way home. Within 3 months, my heart horse OTTB developed temporohyoid osteoarthropy and was gone within 24 hours. Just awful. He was in the pasture running in circles and hollering, and he knew my voice and could come to me—sort of—I had to be careful he didn’t run me over because his motor control was so off. Got him to the barn, did everything we could but he wasn’t stable enough to transport for surgery. Go ahead and sob as much as you need. You can’t replace that experience, but thank God you had it with her. You had her for a reason and she was loved. That’s a LOT.

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Stop beating yourself up, especially about what you imagine her feelings to have been. We can’t really know, but horses are not people and don’t process anything much the way we do. You did all you did for the best, for her.

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OP, I have no advice, just a cyber hug and a few tears for your girl. You said she had been abused before you got her. She probably thought that she had already died and gone to heaven when she landed with you. So, go ahead and grieve for her, but also know that you gave her a life of love, care, safety and kindness that she had never known before you.

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I lost my herd of six horses in the fires three months ago. I lost my heart horse, the first foal I ever bred, and my pregnant mare among them. The one that survived the night we had to put down after two weeks due to severe and rapid coffin bone dropping with the fire damage.

It has been incredibly rough. You just do the best you can, wake up every day, and try to keep moving forward. Get another horse to pour your love into. No horse can ever replace a previous one, but there are so many out there needing the good home and love you provide. Having something that needs me to go out there has helped me. I have two horses right now. I will say I definitely have been frustrated by having to train and make new connections, longed for the horses I lost, and felt very frustrated. Not to mention the crushing guilt, the sadness, the irritability with everyone because even small things set me off because carrying everything around was already so much on me I couldn’t deal with one more thing. Many times I wished to just not exist anymore. To just disappear and not deal with my inner turmoil 24/7. I was at the point where leaving the house for anything but work was near impossible, first not eating then eating too much, not able to sleep much and having nightmares, times where I just cried all the time, anxiety through the roof all the time, and just so irritable with everyone and everything. I still have things trigger the memories of that night out there in the fire quite frequently. I’m on an antidepressant now and starting to feel better. Talking to the friend who’s house it was that my horses were at, that lost one of her horses too, has helped me a lot. She also makes riding plans with me all the time so not wanting to break plans with someone has motivated me to get out more. I would say surround yourself by horse friends and keep on riding and spending time with horses. Talk about it as much as you need to. Get professional help if you find you require it. I’m having a painting made of my herd to memorialize them. I’m going to print and frame pictures but just don’t have the stomach for it yet. I’m also going to get a tattoo of my heart horse when COVID allows. I have nothing physically left from them, but I do have the memories and their teachings to carry with me always and that does bring me some comfort.

hugs Losing them is awful. I’m so sorry about your girl. If you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here.


Interstellar, this is just heartbreaking. I’m so very sorry for you losses.

Hey @Bellebelle and @Interstellar, just checking in with you guys. How are you doing?

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