Friday morning, I filled Jackson's bucket with sweet senior feed and carrots. No meds. It was everything he loved (and shouldn't eat) and none of the stuff he hated (but had to have). He was out in the small arena, on the damp sand -- another no-no -- no longer confined to his covered round-pen prison.
He finished his bucket, ate some hay, and then stretched out on the sand for a nap. I sat on a small pile of wood, with my jacket zipped to my neck and my hands, gloved, and folded under my arms. As the sun warmed the sand, he stretched his neck, rubbed his face in the soft ground, closed his eyes and groaned. I unzipped my jacket partway.
A van rumbled up the driveway, with friends who were coming to help Brett cut up more of the oak, and Jackson sat, and then stood up. The arena gate was wide open and I invited him to follow me out. He slowly made his way along the side of the barn, towards the pasture where Tex and Flash were watching, grazing as he went. At the fence, he and Tex rubbed the sides of their faces together a few times. Flash approached, and both Tex and Jackson retreated.
Next, Jackson made his way to the front of the house where the men were unloading their chainsaws and other equipment. He greeted everyone, checking for cookies, and then wandered off following the stream along the side of the house. He circled back to the barn (still grazing as he went) and touched noses with Lucy, who was in her stall turnout watching.
Meanwhile, Tuffy had come to the fence in the donkey pasture. Jackson reached his nose over the gate, and Tuffy stretched his nose up to meet him. Finessa stood a few feet back, watching.
When the vet arrived, Jackson was up by the dressage court, grazing in the deep grass under the oaks and pines. I slipped his halter on and we slowly made our way back to the barn. Jackson likes the vet, and especially her assistant, so his relaxed mood never changed. They loved on him for awhile, before giving him a sedative. He went easily, peacefully, and quickly. After he was on the ground, I knelt beside him with one hand on his withers and one on his neck. I wept, sending all my love to him through my hands. Brett knelt at his head. Tuffy brayed. And brayed. And brayed.
Over the course of the weekend, we've been adjusting. I tossed all his medication jars into the trash. I scrubbed his vitamin bucket and put it away. Brett drained his water trough.
All of the comments on my last post have been incredibly comforting to me. There is a whole community who knew him, and understood him, and miss him too. I am thankful that I have been able to convey his spirit to all of you over the years, and that you have understood. I was one of the lucky ones, to have the gift of a relationship with a horse like Jackson.