Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cree is on her way across the sky.

Photo copyright Aji, 2017; all rights reserved.

I took that photo with Wings's cell phone about 1:00 this afternoon.

It breaks my heart, and yet I love it so. I love them so.

At about 6:50 PM tonight, Cree began her journey across the sky, the newest Spirit Horse.

Given her circumstances, she far outlived what would have been her normal life expectancy. She was only about 20, but she was severely laminitic, and I know that the only reason she survived (and thrived) this long is because Wings bought her from her last owner some 15 years or so ago. The last nine or ten years have been exceedingly difficult for all of us, as she went suddenly from the occasional short-term flare easily treated with a little Bute to a flare that lasted the better part of a year, and then became a pitched battle for her, and for us.

Back then, no one knew how to handle it. So we buckled down and did the work ourselves, figuring out what standard treatments actually exacerbated her condition, learning to buck the conventional wisdom all along the way to help her get comfortable and heal. But time does its work, and just over a year ago, we thought the terrible day had come on New Year's Eve. The horse vet looked at her two days later, and told us there was an outside chance, but it was just that, and if it didn't work, there was nothing else to do.

Her coffin bones had rotated through her soles.

But she didn't want to go, and so we put in the work, and within four months or so, she'd built up more than inch of brand-new sole and begun to reverse the rotation a bit. It was nothing short of miraculous, and a testament to her own strength of will that she cooperated with us all along the way, determined to stick around for a while.

Three weeks or so ago, we had cause for concern again. She simply wasn't herself, and we know her well enough to recognize it. We thought, at the time, that it was related to the founder — thanks to the chaotic climate-change-induced weather patterns, she was flaring again (which is the norm), but as she limped to the water trough, her hindquarters buckled briefly.

We told ourselves it was the pain in her forefeet. Her hind legs have been doing more than double duty for years, and she had some of the most developed quads I've ever seen on a horse.

The vet came out the next day, and she rebounded immediately with a change in meds, so we thought it was a one-off.

Yesterday evening, just before dark, I saw her come out from under the overhang, sail past ice, and practically skate in a half-circle to return to the other trough. She looked like the Cree I knew from more than a decade ago: no limp, withers and neck relaxed, head held high. Happy. I sent the vet a note about it this morning.

Mid-morning, and Wings called me outside. She'd nearly fallen. She clearly had severe ataxia, although only in her hindquarters; think along the lines of the gait of person with severe Parkinsonism. We called the vet, who was off and out of touch, but Cree was one of her first patients years ago, and she called right back and came out to see her.

It wasn't good news, but there was a shot with a large dose of IV Banamine. The motor skills and sensitivity testing we did clearly showed CNS involvement, and probably lumbar-sacral involvement at a separate level, too. There was an outside possibility of a parasite as culprit, and we'd planned to have the labs drawn tomorrow, but the more likely explanation was a tumor or lesion somewhere along the spine or elsewhere. She was alert, engaged, in no pain, and happy, but the vet warned us that if she went down, she would not be able to get back up, and we would know that it was time.

She ate, and happily, this evening. Just as Wings was coming indoors, she turned to go back into the stall, and collapsed. He came ad got me; I went and sat in the dirt and sawdust with her while he called the vet, and she came out in the dark. The temperature was exactly freezing, the stars brilliant, and about 6:50 PM, we let her spirit go to begin her journey. Tomorrow, we'll be calling a guy up the road who has the equipment to take care of her final resting place.

Tonight, Wings's beautiful paint girl is the newest Spirit Horse, racing across the Milky Way, the bridge to other world.

We love you, Cree. We'll see you every night, glowing as you make your journey across the western sky. 

All content, including photos and text, are copyright Aji, 2017; all rights reserved. Nothing herein may used or reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the owner.


  1. she will be in those stars ... sometimes the brightest and others a streak across the night sky. <3 to cree... please, dear sprit, when you meet that gorgeous grey boy, tell nimbus i feel him nearby often - just as aji and wings will feel you. thank you for allowing us to know and be "horse"

  2. I am so very sorry-many gentle hugs to you both

  3. We are both so sorry that it was Cree's time to walk on. Our brother James, who walked on a year ago today, is waiting for her.