Ester Marsh column: How to pick yourself back up after a loss

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 5, 2017

Many people know about this but some do not, so I will share as it might help others.

I am a huge horse lover and had two of my own. Each of them are so special but you always have that one pet that touches your heart just a tad more. Well, my horse Beau was one of those animals. He just knew how to crawl into that heart of mine and anyone else he met.

He had a rough first year of life. He was neglected and starved. My dear friend’s barn picked him and another horse back up because they neglected and didn’t feed both horses.

I took care of Beau for a year before he became mine and he turned into this 17-hand beautiful, huge big bay horse (brown hair and black manes and tail). He turned 12 on Feb. 1 of this year and was in the prime of his life. Here is the part I want our readers to know — I didn’t know that wilted leaves of a red maple tree are poisonous to a horse. Most horses won’t touch it, as my other horse didn’t, but with this weather and the way it has been, many trees and limbs have come down, and Beau, who was starved his first year of life, will eat about anything.

And he ate the wilted red maple leaves. By the time they show signs (not being themselves, lying down, not eating like usual, etc) they typically have 12-24 hours before they die. My vet Jimmy Reber has been awesome for my horses. When he looked at Beau and he took blood and vitals, he asked if I had trees or limbs down and if any could be red maple. I don’t know my trees very well, but I told him that we did, and that some have come down. So horse owners, if you aren’t familiar with red maples, take the time to see what one looks like. The leaves won’t turn red until fall so it almost looks like just any other maple tree.

Beau fought a great fight, lived longer than any other horse would, beating the 12-24 hours numerous times, as my vet, my dear friends and I kept working on him. He was my baby. He would perk up when he saw me and continue to fight to live until he finally showed so many signs that his organs were shutting down that we stopped his suffering. I am one tough cookie, but when it comes to my animals, I am putty. Especially my Beau. As people know, I wear my emotions where everyone sees them and 99 percent of the time I am very happy and feel fortunate to be alive. I am so lucky to have all of my immediate family members, so I have not dealt with too much loss in my life. I have numerous friends who have dealt with so much worse than I have with my horse and I admire each one of them how they get the strength to move on.

When I have asked them in the past, it’s faith that gets most people through the rough times. I know it has for me. So many times there are just no answers why its happening, sometimes it just does. After I emotionally take a hit, I fall very deep but then I climb up pretty fast. One of the things which has helped me deal with my loss of “just” a pet, is to spread the word that wilted red maple leaves are deadly to your horse. Other ways can be writing poems or stories about your loved ones or beloved pets. I started painting and my soul started healing while painting a beautiful picture of him and me. Riding my other horse, smelling nature and just appreciating life and all its offerings. My loss this past week is nothing compared to the losses many people face each day. With each loss, I hope you find purpose, maybe even understanding and most of all faith. There is a plan for each one of us whether two or four legged, and when we accept the “Circle of Life,” our healing can begin.

My Beau, My Heart — Feb. 1, 2005- June 1, 2017

Ester, lover of animals.