Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tragedy in the Eventing Community

Last Friday, as I was packing for a trip to Atlanta to visit my son Andrew and his girlfriend, Jenna, and their new home, as I walked by my computer for the last time before shutting it down, I checked facebook. And there was the news, that tragedy had struck Michael Pollard and his eventing team. His groom was driving their rig when an impatient driver pulled out in front, causing the trailer to flip on its side. Inside the trailer, were 6 horses, including 3 of Michael's four top level eventers.
In today's day of modern technology of i-pads and cell phones, the news traveled at lightning bolt speed. Michael and his wife Nathalie were out of the country on a much deserved rest and on their way home.
We learned that Michael's newest ride, VDL Ulando, was killed immediately. The other horses were extracted from the rig and the news initially was encouraging, that they would survive.
When I was able to check in again on FB and Eventing Nation (the eventers Bible), I was informed that Icarus, or Fly as he is known, was being shipped to Riddle and Rood in Lexington, to treat his injuries. The 14 year old grey Thoroughbred had suffered the most serious lacerations, with his right hind fetlock requiring surgery. Eventually, I learned that Fly had been euthanized, as his injuries were much too severe. I had watched this lovely grey galloping around Ocala only weeks earlier and watched him on tv, competing at Rolex. It was hard to believe that he would not be making a bid for London this summer.
Unbelievably, later that same day, the news came that Jude's Law had also been euthanized. Initially, his injuries appeared to be only superficial, but by Sunday, he was exhibiting internal damage and was trailered to Rood and Riddle, where the Pollards learned that the 11 year old Irish Sport Horse had ruptured his cecum, as a result of Friday's trauma.
If I am heartbroken, and the eventing world is heart broken, I cannot even begin to imagine what the Pollards and the team at Pollard Eventing are going through.
As a horse owner, we must at some point or another, come face to face with the death of our animal. Those who have horses know, that the death of a horse is not the same as one's dog or cat dying. Our bond with these magnificent creatures is on a much different plane. And lets face it, when we are presented with that time, putting down our horse is not the same as taking our beloved Fido or Boots to the vet, laying them on a table and watching them slip into an eternal slumber. The sheer size of the horse makes the dynamics of their death much more profound. They do not just lay down. We do not pick up their body, lay it in a box with their favorite blanket or toy. We do not simply dig a hole.
Even the most peaceful death of a horse, where one passes in its sleep, is not simple. Disposing of a thousand pound animal is not easy. Calls must be made, special equipment must be brought in, and decisions to be made as to whether to bury the horse or remove the body. It is not an easy task, physically or mentally.
It is difficult for me to wrap my brain around the thought of losing 3 horses within 3 days, from a preventable accident ( I do not know the details of the accident, other than that the other driver pulled out in front of the trailer, so I will not address this at this time).
For the Pollards, their grief is magnified, because these were not just 3 horses whose world was centered around a handful of people. The Pollards and their horses are in the limelight. They must share their grief with the world, or at least the eventing world. Through facebook and Eventing Nation, they have done just that.
One year ago, Memorial weekend again, eventer Boyd Martin experienced the same kind of loss, when a barn fire claimed the lives of 6 of his horses. The eventing community grieved right along Boyd and Silva and their connections. Somehow, they moved on. And somehow, Michael and Nathalie will pull themselves up by their bootstraps and move on. Eventers are a very kind and generous community. That is why I was attracted to it in the first place. Somehow, the Pollards will persevere, as we all have at some time or other, because eventers are one tough cookie.
My deepest condolences to the Pollard Eventing Team. And now, I must go hug my Tucker.

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