Today it rained hard almost all day, with temperatures in the upper 50s. The horses were out for quite a while, but the mares got cold (even Dawn, who was wearing her rain sheet, was chilled and shaking) from the soaking rain, and the barn owner brought them in before 11 a.m. At noon, she started bringing the geldings in too.
The gelding herd - Pie and Red are in this herd - is by and large a young, active herd of horses - there is lots of running and playing. They were milling around near the gate, with some running and sliding in the mud. The barn owner was out with them, and somehow in the commotion a gelding named Mikey fractured his right front leg - I don't know if it was an accidental kick from all the high spirits, or if he slipped and twisted his leg or if another horse ran into him. Mikey was 22, although he looked much older than that - he wasn't that sound, no one ever rode him and I'd have guessed he was closer to 30. Mikey was a very sweet horse, and would always come up and greet me when I was out in the pasture.
Since she was there, the barn owner was able to hold him still - he was still standing - until the vet came - quickly, which was a blessing - to euthanize him. Others brought the geldings in. I got there after all the other horses were in and she was out there with him and the vet. When I came to the barn, and went into the aisle where my horses were, all the horses whinnied to me and some seemed agitated - this is very unusual - usually they're quiet when I get there. Most of the horses in our aisle are in the same gelding herd, and it was clear they all knew something was wrong.
Red was particularly upset - I think he for some reason feels responsible for all the horses in his herd - he worries about them. His head was high, his eyes were huge and he was very tense. I took him out of his stall and walked him around, then took him to the door of the arena, which had a good view of the pasture where Mikey was lying near the barn. He looked and looked, and snorted and snorted, but he didn't try to leave - he wanted to see and I think it made a difference to him. I comforted him and told him he didn't have to worry, that Mikey was OK now.
I don't usually ride on Sundays, but today, after I groomed and hoof picked all three horses, Red and I rode. I figured moving out would help him let go of tension and feel better, and I know it helped me. It took a while for him to relax, but we ended with some lovely stretching down forward trot work, and he seemed much more content when I put him back in his stall. I felt in some way that we were honoring Mikey with our ride.
Cherish your horses - you never know how long they will be with you.