ENDINGS: HUMAN–HORSE EXPERIENCES OF LOSS
Have you experienced the grief of having to say goodbye to a beloved horse, or have you seen your horse experience loss?
In our previous research, we have also explored questions of aging and death in horses and pets, selling horses, and remembering horses encountered in the past. To enable us to go deeper into the experiences of loss in human–horse relationships, we would like you to write your own story. You can write about your own experiences of losing a horse, or you can write about how you have seen horses experience loss (or change?). The length and style of writing are up to you, and you can include photographs and other visual materials if you wish. You can choose to write in response to any of the questions below.
(a) Your personal experiences. This could include not only loss through the death of the horse, but also through forced separation. What were your reactions to these situations? In what kind of situations have you lost a horse close to you through sale, euthanasia, or some other way? Was the event sudden and unexpected, or was it a longer process? Some areas you might like to consider: In case of euthanasia, who made the decision and was the decision-making difficult? How did you feel about the decision afterwards? Could you share your feelings with other people, and how did they react? Who supported you during the time of loss and afterwards? In the case of selling the horse, what was the reason for the sale? How did you feel about who bought the horse and where the horse went, and how did this make you feel about the sale afterwards? Did you miss the horse, or regret the sale? Did you keep contact with the new owner or follow the horse’s life through media or social media? Did you meet the horse again, and what was it like? Did you buy or loan a new horse afterwards? If not, did you go on riding or interacting with horses in any way? If yes, how soon, and what was it like to start with a new horse? If you had other horses at the time, did this make a difference in how you felt about the loss?
(b) The horse's perspective. How have you seen your horse react to separation? For example through moving yards or the loss of an equine companion Some areas you might like to consider: How did your horse react to changing yards, and how long did it take for the horse to settle? How did that impact upon your relationship, after the arrival and during the following days, weeks, or months? Were there differences in how the horse communicated with you and reacted to handling and riding? How did the horse behave in the field, did they eat, interact with other horses, and move around as before? Could you catch the horse, leave the yard, or load the same as before? How did your horse react if you went away for a longer time? Did the horse behave differently with other people at the yard, or with other horses? How did the horse react to your return? How did your horse react to the departure or death of an equine companion, and for how long? Did this change something in their relationship with you, other people, or other horses?