It's not really beginning now as I made the decision a few weeks ago. I've been chewing on the decision for a while now, but it is time I let my horse go before his life becomes a living hell.
I'm blogging about it because it's a heart wrenching and difficult decision to make for any of our animals and I hope someone else can read this and know they are not alone in making this sort of decision.
I keep smacking up into the realization that I'm going to lose him sooner than later. The nebulous idea of "this fall" became "late October" and has become "about four weeks". Wait a minute! That's not right! It can't possibly be the end of September yet... But the leaves are starting to turn. A shock of orange among the green. The fading of green to yellow. It is autumn all too soon.
He's a cool horse. We've done a lot together and he's taught me more than a few lessons. I got him more than fifteen years ago - a timespan that seems like forever, but somehow at the same time seems like last year. I don't want to put out too many details right now as there are some other boarders at the barn who's greatest joy appears to be vicious, judgemental gossip. They can wait until after the fact to shred my actions. Suffice it to say that he's a pretty awesome boy to those of us who know him well.
There are times that I can forget what's coming for hours. Then the smallest thing reminds me, brings a lump into my throat and tears to my eyes. That flash of orange in the green trees. I sat on the floor in the barn and cried the day I saw his name on my board bill because I realized that I'm only going to see it one more time.
The decision is made, but the questions about whether I'm right, is this the time, could I keep him going, is that a sign he wants to hang around a while longer, and so on don't go away. I keep looking for confirmation that I'm right, or solid evidence I'm wrong. But there isn't any either way at this stage. He looks good right now - many people have said so. I remember last winter and how he had some trouble handling the weather. I see the subtle changes in him that warn of larger problems come winter.
I finally realized that while the answer to the question "could I keep him going through another winter or several?" is a definite yes, that is the wrong question. The real question needs to be "Should I?" and to that question I must reluctantly answer "no". He definitely deserves better than being forced to endure life simply because I'm not ready to let him go. I never will be ready.