“Yes, we have experienced remarkable success with reversing the effects of founder,” the spokesperson announced over the phone
Back at the shop, Butch used the usual pressure to get sign work tasks done on his fleet prior to the beginning of his season. My work ethic had changed now that attending meetings was important. I no longer worked late whenever he asked. This promoted a resentment in my client although he assured me that he understood and had respect for someone who had recognized they had a problem and did something about it. Never the less, my focus on caretaking for my mare and attending meetings interfered with his ambition.
I did get his fleet on its way on time. Then, I made an appointment to take my horse to be healed with the corrective shoeing procedure available in Oklahoma City.
For months I succeeded in keeping Sassy comfortable in her stall. During my regular outings to see her, I used a wheelbarrow to provide soft sand in her stall, topped with pine sawdust. Because of the pain in her feet, she laid down a lot.
In the dark Farrier College building, a dozen students were learning how to make shoes at the forge and anvil. I found the man who made the claim over the phone about being able to help. He had me bring the horse inside. When he looked at her feet, he gathered the class around to see her condition firsthand.
“This is what a horse’s foot looks like,” he stated as he held her foot up between his legs, “when the coffin bone is protruding through the sole.”
The students leaned in for a closer look. He pointed out the obvious. As the class asked their questions, it became evident to me that her condition was grave. Expectant hopes were dashed to the ground. After the session, he pointed toward a place where she could stay.
He had only crude stalls and musty, old oat hay for bedding. Overnight Sassy developed open bed sores from lying on course bedding. The next day, I received the inevitable prognosis of what I had been in denial of – in the form of a demand by him to put her down. The roller coaster experience of having my hopes ride high during the trip south, shattered upon arrival, and now the command from this egoic, less than sensitive service provider left me in tears.
Still confused about what to do, I called Evy Karoli. I was ashamed to report to her what I had done. I was sure she would be disappointed. Instead, when she returned my call, she was a source of comfort with helpful advice. It was time to end her suffering.
I couldn’t bear to witness the euthanization of, and the discarding of my beloved, once proud mare. I sobbed while I gave my consent. I was filled with fear. I left that place on a dreary day in a blowing rain with vision blurred by tears.
Back at Wichita, isolated at the shop, I sank into the most emotionally devastating depression of my life. Alone and completely depleted, I sought relief at the AA fellowship. With no direction to go, resources tapped, and in the depths of despair, I went to three meetings the day I returned.
At the first two, I heard the usual angst about withdrawal, and reports of progress, mixed with confusion and dilemma. When it became my turn to talk, I opened up about my tragedy and the loss of my mare and, perhaps for the first time, began to open up and attempt to describe the depth of sorrow I was feeling. My crude testimony deteriorated into sobbing. The entire fellowship rose to wrap their arms around me in an effort to provide me with comfort and encouragement.
I returned to the next meeting. Again, when it became my turn to speak, this scenario repeated. My condition of untreated alcoholism and delusional thinking was compounded not only by grief for the loss of the love of my life but, not knowing it at the time, withdrawal from something else. I had developed co-dependency with my mare who gave me an image of myself that I approved of. Through finding out about these and other concepts, I became familiar with how I used her as an antidote for my damaged self-esteem. Unknowingly, I found a way to approve of myself while being a handsome prince on a stunning horse. With her gone, I had a brokenhearted void in my soul.
Healing was underway. At the third meeting I attended that day, I began to look at my fellows with relatedness. One fellow was having a tough day during his job delivering pizzas. His plight became the focus of everyone’s empathy as we, including me, rose to console and comfort him. The following days gradually turned into weeks and about all I could do was go to meetings.
Days later I woke to discover Nick, my canine companion, laying paralyzed, quivering and unable to breathe. I laid him in the back of the van and raced to see the vet but was turned away. They were too busy. The only option I had was to put him down myself.
Back at Maize, I went over to the welding shop. I asked the two Harder brothers to help me with this task. They did have a gun but were not able to consider shooting inside the city limits due to some strain with the sheriff in the past. They lent me their .22 rifle. While tears flowed freely, I carried Nicks convulsing body to the grass north of the shop. I had to feel my way to lay the end of the barrel on his forehead because my sobbing obscured my vision. One loud crack and he lay at peace. I dug a hole and placed my friend at the bottom. After replacing the dirt on top, I paused to say a prayer. I was now completely alone.