I have been riding since I was approximately nine years old, after years of begging for lessons. I went from riding lesson ponies, to riding more challenging horses as the years went on. In the summer of 2012, my dad finally fell prey to my persuasion and agreed to the purchase of my first horse, after years of leasing. But I never imagined that I would end up with a ten year old off the track Thoroughbred mare, and I don't think words will ever describe how blessed I was to have her.
She needed a lot of work, since she had been at the racetrack for seven years and was used as simply a broodmare after that. She was thin, and covered in bug bites, which might have played a part in why I knew she needed to be mine. Despite those small setbacks, I had a good feeling about her, and on September 7, 2012, she finally arrived at my barn. Third stall on the left.
Our first rides were frustrating for me, but after I took a step back and realized that I was expecting too much too soon, our relationship flourished. I was at the barn at least five days a week, and she was improving almost daily. I can still remember every single milestone; her first time picking up the correct right lead canter, her first time standing still to be mounted, her first time going over poles at a trot, her first sugar cube. I always gave her half an apple after every ride, and I'd always reward her with a little slice for behaving.
Nobody ever had a bad thing to say about her. The farrier always complimented her calm demeanor, and everyone who helped with chores complimented her sweet attitude. Even on her last day, the vet said she took everything in stride when he first arrived, which is what could be expected of her, because she was just that incredible.
Indie was quirky. That's all there is to it. As you can see in the picture, she liked to smile. For that picture, I was cleaning out her nostrils with a baby wipe, since the smell always made her "smile". She cribbed like there was no tomorrow. I bought a no cribbing spray once, and it worked for a few days until she realized it dripped off. She'd always crib when I wasn't looking, but would stop if I called out her name.
I remember the first time she walked over to me in the field, the feeling I had is something I will never forget. I will be honest and say she usually walked or trotted away, but she never gave me too much trouble...except for one time when she had finally made a friend. I would give anything to be chasing her in the field again though, even if it frustrated me to no end. She remained at the bottom of the pecking order, which never surprised me, because she was never confrontational and usually avoided getting in an argument with another mare.
I'd always sneak extra straw in for her bedding, and extra hay for her supper. I made a habit of wiping her down with baby wipes before and after each ride so that her coat was perfectly clean and shiny. I remember how I never had to do much with her mane because it was always perfectly straight and off to the right. I kept her forelock in a french braid, and would occasionally braid her whole mane. I always took my time grooming her if I had the option, after all, she was my dream come true. I've worked with many horses, but I had never had such a strong bond with any of them. Whenever I brushed her face, I'd hold the face mitt on her forehead and she'd rub her head up and down on it as her head raised higher and higher...eventually I had to reset my position since I was already on my toes.
November 21 came too fast. We had exactly two and a half months together. Just a week before, Indie had injured her leg somehow so we spent the whole week icing and wrapping it. The night before, we had our first ride. There were a couple things off, but both my instructor and I figured that it was due to having a week off. She was girthy and didn't do the usual self-grooming with the face mitt. When I finally hopped on, she was stiff but within ten minutes, she was ready to go and wanted to go full speed ahead. One more thing about Indie, she had a way of making me feel completely safe. Not once did I have any sort of anxiety about her taking off, or not listening. I had invested so much trust in her. I had a lesson the very next night, so I was excited to see where it'd take us. I had big plans for this upcoming summer, such as trail rides and maybe taking Indie to her very first show.
On November 21, my world shattered. We were driving to my lesson when my mom pulled over the car and started crying. She proceeded to explain that in the afternoon, a woman called my instructor and said a horse was laying out in the pasture and there was red around his/her nose. My instructor ran out and saw Indie, laying on the ground, with blood pooling around her nose and head. The vet was called, and then my parents. Indie was put on fluids early that afternoon but my mom didn't tell me until that night because she didn't want to ruin my day. We went to the barn to find Indie in the first stall with a catheter providing her with fluids, and my instructor rinsing the blood from her mouth with a syringe. The vet said it seemed like a guttural pouch infection, and it's something that rarely shows symptoms. He said there wasn't much he could do until the bleeding stopped, so he told us to continue wiping the blood and rinsing her mouth and to call us if anything went wrong. My mom decided that we should head home to grab stuff for staying the night, so we did and came back about an hour or so later.
I spent the next hour and a half wiping the blood from Indie's nose and rinsing the blood from her mouth. At times, the bleeding seemed to slow, but then she'd blow out and it'd start again. At one point, I had a shred of hope. Within the next hour, she started shivering. I tried putting a blanket on her but she was too shaky on her legs for me to ask her to move over, so I threw it in the corner of the stall. Her shaking progressed to the point where my mom called my instructor to come out and help. Moments before my instructor got there, Indie reared up, almost as though she knew what was going to happen when she fell over. I screamed as I let go of her lead rope and my instructor burst through the door. My mom told me to go get Dale, and I was in such a state of shock that I thought she meant run to his house to get him...so at 9:00PM, I started running down a pitch black road. Scared to death, with blood on my old winter coat from Indie blowing and sneezing on me. My mom realized I misunderstood and drove down to come get me. When I got through the door again, the vet had been called and Indie was on her side.
I remember my instructor giving me the biggest hug one could imagine and we watched Indie's legs kick out. I didn't want to get kicked and I was still so shocked, but I reached down to rub her shoulder. When her eyes rolled down, I just knew and my instructor just looked at me. I crouched down and continued to rub her neck and talk to her until the vet came through the door. I got out of his way and waited, by this time, another boarder and her daughter had showed up after seeing my mom's facebook status.
The next few moments were surreal, I never understood what people meant when they said an accident went by in slow motion until this exact moment. The vet looked up and simply shook his head. Tears couldn't even make it down my face, I couldn't believe it. I went back by Indie's side and whispered to her, rubbing her shoulder. I told her how much I loved her and that she could crib all she wanted in heaven, I think I repeated those words many times until I noticed the warmth had nearly left her body and her gums were now blue. I couldn't stop rubbing her shoulder though and even when everywhere else was cold, her shoulder was warm. I didn't want to leave, but I knew that if I didn't, I wouldn't ever. My instructor laid a blanket over top of her to keep her warm. November 21 will forever remain one of the most traumatic nights of my life, and words cannot come close to describing the pain it brought, and continues to bring to me.
Even now, nearly six months later, I still shed tears for my Indie. For the memories we shared, and for the dreams we had yet to achieve. I can only hope that I impacted her life as much as she impacted mine, and that she knows how much she will always mean to me. Indie was one of a kind, and will forever live on in my heart, until we meet again. Two and a half months with Indie was a pure blessing, and although it wasn't long, we formed an everlasting bond and I know she continues to watch over me. Words cannot convey how much I continue to love her.