This topic contains 19 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  Brad Johnson 3 years, 3 months ago.

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    RIP Lee. I’d rather it was me.

    We turned too tight. The wagon’s not a 5th wheel. We’ve done this before, we’ll just drag the front axle over. “Crack!” “Shit.” The pole’s split where it meets the steel at the evener. We stop. It’s in place. “I think we can make it home with this.” (Home is less than half a mile away. We socialize. The horses are a hit with the kids, but we must get back, a doctor is coming for wagon rides at 2. All’s well up the hill. I’m watching the pole like a hawk.
    Just the slightest decline in the last 600′ to home. I keep the horses to a walk. Slowly, the pole folds to the ground. At the back mind you, near the wagon. Suddenly we’re off, and no “Whoa” or tug on the reins will stop this previously unflappable team. It is all I can do to think about keeping us on the road. We bounce off one snowbank and head across the road for the ditch and a major crash.
    With a major pull on the right rein we recover onto the road, but the near horse Lee has his right hind over his mate’s trace. He is essentially galloping 3 legged. We stop when he falls.
    This is my first runaway ever. A team that last month stood ground tied for 30 minutes while we had lunch at a forestry demo. 2 months ago we had the front of the pole fall off for the first time. The horses stopped. We fixed it. No big deal. I am actually in the process of replacing the forecart pole that i thought was unsafe. The wagon pole? I used it 2 days ago and it was fine.
    I unhooked Zeke and had my friend lead him over to our hitching post ONLY 300′ AWAY!!!!! As soon as I got Lee free he stood up, and I knew it was over. He stood up on 3 legs with the forth dangling and bleeding. The only solace I have is that dad’s a vet and we were able to end his suffering in less than 15 minutes. Lee ate apples and hay in the mean time, with his brother by his side. The euthanasia went easy. My friend is now buried in a flower garden with a view of Mt. Ascutney, where Zeke can come and visit. Ironically, he is perfectly upside down, as he loved to be in life when rolling and scratching after work. Zeke has a companion horse hanging out with him, and is eating and drinking OK. I was worried about his reaction, being so bonded to Lee.
    I carry all the blame here,for making a decision that caused the death of a great, wonderful horse in the prime of his life. This is still fresh. I do not know what I will do. I thought I would share and reach out for some help. What do you do to get over such a loss and guilt? Or how do you sell out and leave it all behind for a coffee shop job in Colorado? Despite the front I’ve put up this year has held lots of sadness and sacrifice, this being the last of many injuries.
    I’d like nothing more than to have the broken leg myself, and Lee whole.

    • This topic was modified 3 years, 4 months ago by  LongViewFarm.
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    I hear and acknowledge the pain you speak of. I am more familliar with it than I wish. Try to give yourself some time and don’t be too hard on yourself. I tell myself that this is the other side of the wonderful aspects of working with raw life. We can’t have one with some of the other. I expect there isn’t a one of us reading this that hasn’t been in a similar position. We have you and Lee in our thoughts and prayers. Peace, Jay


    Carl Russell

    So sorry that you had to go through that Jay………



    Jay, I am glad you are alright. It is an awesome honor we have to work with such animals. It is not without it’s challenges and hardships. I will talk to you soon, Donn



    Taking responsibility for hardships is often too easy for a working man. You are also responsible for all of the good that you have imparted on the the world around you. Dwell on the good, keep your head up, and know that most of us have been there. You are not alone and your positive achievements are what matter to us.



    Tim Harrigan

    That’s really rough, Jay. So sorry to learn of the heartbreak…



    I am so sorry to hear that, Jay. I think it’s safe to say your situation is unique and very painful, but you’re not alone. I bet we’ve all had a near-miss, a run, a wreck, or something that caused us to examine everything- our equipment, our animals, our relationships, our decisions… and caused us to beat ourselves up. I am so sorry for the loss of your teammate. I’m also grateful that you were willing to share what happened. You’ll never look at a pole the same way… and neither will I.



    Actually as I think more, it’s not about the pole. It’s about ALL the little and big decisions we make every time we’re with our animals. Heal well, Jay.



    Thanks for the support folks. It means a lot. I keep coming back to the randomness of it. 3 days of good work in a row, doing something we’d done dozens of times before. Such a good horse, with so much good life left. For such a thing to happen it seems there must be a reason, but hell if I know.

    I drove Zeke solo for an hour this morning. It was good. We are both lacking confidence.

    If anybody knows of a forecart with shafts that I could borrow, buy, or rent, please let me know. Specifically I could use one to continue hauling logs.

    Thanks and bless you all. I hope you never experience this.


    Mark Cowdrey

    I have a Pioneer & shaves I am not using. You are welcome to use it.


    Carl Russell

    Jay, I also have a single Barden cart with shafts that I do not expect to use this winter. It looks like one of the tires has a slow leak, but you are welcome to it…….until we lose snow cover.

    Not to create a confusion of choice….



    Ed Thayer


    So sorry to hear this, please know Jane and I are thinking of you and Zeke.



    Stephen Leslie

    Jay, been thinking about you a lot since I first read this post a few days ago. So much wisdom and compassion in the responses here—not much I can add. Some folks might remember an article I wrote for SFJ a few years ago called a “History of Wrecks” in which I outlined an incident in 1998 where my inexperience and impatience got me into a wreck that nearly got my wife killed (horses were miraculously unharmed). Took me years to get over that, in retrospect I can see that I actually suffered from PTSD for awhile. But just like you, I was driving horses again that same week—and now I am so glad we didn’t give up on the dream. Hang in there, man—our horses often know the intention in our hearts better than we do—I am confident you are forgiven by that good one you lost and the good one you still have.


    Brad Johnson

    I have been off the forum for a good little while recovering from holiday madness and starting new job in the woods. I am deeply sorry to hear about Lee. I have been in that situation with a run away and the knowledge that I was the only one to blame. Fortunately, I did not end up with a horse put down but nothing saved me from that except dumb luck. I am sure that I cannot offer any further wisdom than that which others have offered here, but please know that you and your family have my sympathy and respect. You will keep working with Zeke and in time I suspect that another team will occupy your barn. In the mean time, if I can be of any assistance please let me know. I could make time to come over some weekend and give you some work if that would help you out. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


    Does’ Leap

    Jay, you and your horse have been on my mind over the past few days since I read your post. Reading about your situation hits home for me as I have narrowly escaped disaster on more than one occasion. We can only venture to do our best and learn from our experiences. I am deeply sorry about Lee and hope you find peace and recovery in the weeks to come.


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