The Montana sky as night approaches

Midas’ Tragic Lesson

April 03, 2013 was a cold yet bright and sunny day. With several the feet of snow on the ground finally starting to melt and a high of 21F here in Michigan, we could tell spring is only a few months away.

The plan for the evening was DJ, my partner in crime with the rescued OTTB we took on in October (the one that got tangled in a downed fence only a few days after her arrival), was going to begin their training for their first show.

DJ only had a few rides on the Mare before she tore the beegeebers out of both hind legs. She has spent the entire winter nursing the wounds and everyone is so excited to see they are at the point of getting back to work.

I spent most of the day planning the lesson and arrived at the barn with dressage tests and drills to get them going. As we pulled in, I saw our barn owner running past me into the barn. We have mares that should begin to foal late next week, my heart jumped “Are we getting an early package? Dang, I wish the weather was better.” I grabbed my boots and ran into the barn.

I asked “What’s up?” My barn owner says, while filing a syringe, “Midas got his leg caught in his halter and he is down”. We sprang into action. I slammed my feet into boots, grabbed what I could from the barn and hauled ass to the pasture.

Our barn owners had been in town for a few hours that afternoon to take “our” special treasure, their baby girl, for her 2 month checkup. They arrived home just a short while before I got to the barn. She looked out and saw Midas laying down and immediately thought “That’s an odd place for him to sun tan.” After a few minutes, she felt something was not right and went out to check.  That’s when she found him tangled.

Running across a horse pasture anytime of the year is tough, but add deep snow and ruts its a killer. Upon arrival, gasping for breath and praying I didn’t have a heart attack, we find the big brown quarter horse laying on his left side, stiff but breathing. There’s a very small amount of blood on the ground. Nothing shocking but he is seriously not alert. The Five of us begin to try to wake him up and get him up. We are shouting, pulling, and patting … nothing.

We get his head up and prop a bale of hay behind to help hold, in hopes more oxygen would help… No response.

Roll him over and try to get some circulation going on the side he’s lying on. We are working his legs and rubbing …. “come on buddy”. He’s looking at us still, not much clicking in his brain.

I’m a six foot tall slightly plus sized woman running around on the ice cold ground and my body temperature is plummeting fast. Here we have a 1200 pound horse with all that surface area just lying on the ice. We know we have to get him off the cold ground and fast. A jerry rig sling is made out of grain bags and pipes, using a fork lift we finally get him in the air. Still no response.  He’s looking at us, he’s blinking, we hope that means something. We prop hay bales under him to support him, so he’s not just hanging.

The vet arrives. Her first request is to somehow get him warmed up. In a matter of minutes, a fort made of hay bales and tarp is built and propane heaters are set up. We get the poor boy wrapped in every blanket we find.

For well over five hours, a small army of people did everything possible but in the end, Midas was helped over the rainbow bridge, surrounded by his little girl and all of us pouring love out to him.

We will never know what took place in those few hours or even how long Midas was down. We don’t even know if he got stuck in the halter and fell or if that was an after the fall thing.  But the one thing I know for sure is I just placed an order for several break-away halters.

Some states mandate a horse must have a halter on at all times when not being ridden, while others do not. For most of my horse’s life, we turned and stalled our horses out without halters but here, halters are required when in the pastures. Midas’ halter was properly fitted and adjusted; no one ever dreamt anything like this could happen.

In the scheme of life we never really know what’s the plan or why things happen the way they do.  If sharing this tragic story could help save just one horse, then we did not lose Midas for nothing.

Think safety. RIP Midas.