Trigger warning: this blog post will discuss the death of my horse, Star. It is not my intention to make it, or you, sad, but I also do not want to mislead you – she is still, in fact, dead. Even at the end of the story. 🤷🏻♀️ no amount of glue, prayer, or drunk crying has changed that in the two years she’s been gone and I have no reasonable expectation that her circumstance will change at any point in the future (near or far).
BUT, the story of how I ended up with 100 pounds of ashes is sort of funny, at least in a morbid way (my favorite way!), so.. I’m going to share the story.
First, to be honest, it’s closer 60 pounds of ashes, but that doesn’t pack the same punch as 100 pounds. Pick whichever weight makes this story more exciting to you. 🤣
As a brief background, Star died from colic. Her guts twisted up in her belly, and clogged her up, until 25 feet of her intestines died. (Fun fact: horses apparently can live, in some situations, WITHOUT 25 FEET OF INTESTINE). She was taken into emergency surgery, where ultimately, I decided that as her BFF/partner of 15 years, I had to make a decision that was in her best interest, and maybe not mine. We let her go. Her quality of life, to that point, had been amazing, and I simply wasn’t willing to let the quality of her life diminish for my own selfish wants.
So she died – December 26th, 2019. It was devastating. Honestly, no matter how much time you think you have to prepare, no matter what the initial prognosis looked like, no matter the age, no one is ever prepared to say goodbye to their best friend. Ever. I was not prepared.. and she was 25! Not exactly a spring chicken. (Or even a chicken at all – this story is about a horse remember?).
It may surprise you, but I was actually relatively calm that entire day. ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING WHO I AM AS A PERSON. However; one thing I had never thought of/I do not think many people think of, until put in this situation, is how large a horse actually is. Star was exactly 1,124 pounds on the day she died. THAT IS A LOT OF MASS TO DO SOMETHING WITH.
Seriously, the options suck. First, decisions need to be made quickly. Secondly, no one should make these kinds of decisions while emotional and thirdly, THE. OPTIONS. SUCK.
Long story short, they put her down, brought me a chunk of her mane hair (which like 🥺), and then they are like.. “okay, now what do you want us to do with her?”
Strangely, they do not have a ton of storage space for horse corpses. So THESE ARE THE OPTIONS THEY GAVE ME:
1. We can get the BACK HOE and load her back into her trailer and then I could bury her wherever (provided I had a back hoe at the ready, which spoiler alert: I did not). Trying to imagine my parent’s HOA’s response when I dug up a 1000 pound animal sized hole under the front tree was also impossible. Obviously, this was a no.
2. Cremation is the other option. Which, and it turns out, IS QUITE THE PROCESS. There are a couple options.
Unbeknownst to me (but probably a no brainer to most) is the cold truth that the majority of crematoriums do not have a crematory space (I want to call it oven, but that feels disrespectful. I have no idea what it is called) large enough for a horse. So, for this option, we had to store her over the weekend and then she was going to be trailered to a special animal cremation station (I’ve always wanted to say cremation station 🤣), where she would spend hours becoming 100 (realistically 60) pounds of ash, at an exorbitant fee.
ORRR HERE’S THE REALLY COOL OPTION – the second option for cremation. They offered to do a “Head, Hoof, Heart” cremation.
Now.. first, to set the scene. My horse of 15 years, who I had been fighting to keep alive for like 18 hours now, and road tripped across Kansas for, died approximately 4 minutes prior to this conversation. We (my mom and I) are in this god-awful “sorry your horse died” waiting room, and they have all of these preserved horse legs, with the tendons/bones/muscles showing, just sitting around.
This waiting room must double as the “wow, your horse broke all the bones, tendons and muscles in its leg” room, because they had all the props.
So ANYWAY, I am sitting there, probably experiencing a little shock, with this damn preserved, and halved, horse leg in my face. And this poor, poor resident, who has already seen more emotion from me than anyone really deserves goes “.. Or we can do the head, hoof, heart cremation.”
Okay, remember, I am exhausted. So.. I look at her and I’m just like “.. that is truly an awful business name.” 😳
Update: not a business name. They literally only cremate the head, the hooves, and the heart, so the person ends up with a NORMAL amount of ashes.
The moment that this hits me, it hits my mother, and truly, thank the Lord for that, because I went red. Full blown: “I am going to beat the living shit out of you with this stupid, preserved, horse leg for even SUGGESTING that we will be chopping Star up.”
Bless my mom’s heart, she tried telling me that no.. they wouldn’t be chopping her up, they would just “put up dividers to keep the ashes separate.” 🤣 she tried, okay?
HYSTERIA ENSUED. I may or may not have screamed “you are not chopping her up” to any and all parties in the building. Important note: no one was struck with the horse leg at any time, despite my best efforts.
And with those as my options.. I paid an inordinate amount of money, to have every single piece of her cremated, together, as one solid horse.
To be honest, I didn’t realize how MUCH ash she would make (is that how that should be phrased?). But given the other alternative of driving around with her dead body or letting the vet school students go to town on her body with their reciprocating saw.. I was taking the ashes. So now, I have 60-100 pounds of horse ash, in a very nice wooden box, that I have no idea what to do with.
Do I regret it? No.
Do I wish I had thought through a final plan a little better? Yes.
Is she sitting in my parents garage? Yes.
Am I afraid to drive with her in case I wreck and she explodes on the highway? Also, yes.
Do I half-jokingly keep telling everyone that we are going to spread her ashes instead of flower petals on our wedding aisle? Yes again.
Guys, I can’t make this up. This is truly how I ended up with a gigantic box of horse ash, that I insist on carrying around and weeping over, when I have had a little too much wine to drink. It’s, no joke, 1/2 the size of me. If nothing else, I have to be getting stronger. 🤷🏻♀️
That being said, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Well.. that’s not true. I would GLADLY take her back, all 1,124 pounds, in all of her glory, and be her mom/best friend again, but like I said, I just don’t think it’s gonna happen. It hasn’t so far.
I miss her. Please don’t read this as a callous post. I miss her more than words can say, but I’ve gotten to the point where I have got to be able to laugh about it. Crying isn’t changing anything, and honestly, it’s the last thing Star would want.
So: the morale of the story? Not really sure there is one. I guess, be prepared for your large farm animals to die at some point, and maybe have a plan for their remains.. or at least.. budget accordingly. 😉.
Laugh with me, friends. You have to admit, it’s a little pathetic. No one should have 100 pounds of horse ash just laying around, but HERE I AM. Give me all your horse ash ideas… we have plenty.
Sunny daze ahead friends, I promise. 🐎❤️