Macallan (Mac, bubba, the Grinch, Big Mac, and mac ‘n’ cheese)
This year on 9/5/18 marks two years since Macallan passed away. I feel like many of y’all don’t know the full story about what happened, or even who he was.
He was an 19 year old warmblood, 16.5 hands high horse, with Cushing’s Disease, who had the sweetest heart, and was my horse for 6 months.
The first time I ever rode Macallan, we were nearly out of control, and it’s honestly a miracle I stayed on. The first time my dad met him, Mac bit him. The first time my mom met him, I was thrown off four times, and my mom was shocked that Mac was the horse I wanted haha. Pretty great start to meeting the family haha.
Mac was a big step up from my previous seven horses, but he was so gentle with me. I was this little 16 year old girl, weighing less than 100 lbs, and he was this 16.5+ hands high horse (really big), staring down at me. But what made us work together, and become a powerhouse was our fighting spirits. Macallan had a disease called Cushing’s Disease (or: PPID) which causes hormonal imbalances in the pituitary glands at the base of the horse’s brain. It affects horses by causing mood swings, so Macallan was bipolar. His mood would shift all the time and it was hard for others to know how to handle him, but that’s where Mac and I had things in common. I was the shy, quiet girl who didn’t have a lot of friends, and he wanted to be friends with every horse, but because of his mood swings, he didn’t have many friends.
We both have had to overcome some rough patches in our past, and together we worked as a team.
As we hit the ground running with horse shows every weekend, Mac and I started to become a name around shows. Trainers would tell riders to watch how Mac and I communicated together, how we would fix our mistakes, and even on the rough days, how Macallan would work even harder when I was not giving 100%.
Macallan helped build my confidence tremendously as a rider, teaching me how I needed to be a rougher, yet soft rider, learning how to see the distance to jumps, and how to build momentum in the lines between jumps.
As September approached, Macallan and I were both ranked 1st in the state, an accomplishment I had always dreamed of, but never thought I would. We had three more horse shows, and then the biggest show of the season: Medal Finals was the first week of October.
We had a horse show on September 4th, and did really well, walking away with a Champion in the division. We went back to the barn and dropped him off, giving him water and hay, unhitched the trailer, and gave him kisses before leaving.
The next day I woke up to an allergic reaction to swollen ankles/feet, so mom and I went to the local walk-in clinic, where we got antibiotics, and were headed to lunch when I got a phone call from my (now former) trainer Karen.
She asked where I was and asked for me to sit down. She said, “Kyra, Macallan colliced in the middle of the night. Kenny (barn hand) found him this morning and called the Vet, he is currently at the Vet’s. We don’t think it’s serious, he should be back at the barn tomorrow, but if you’d like to go see him and just be with him, I’ll give you the address.”
Side note: One of my biggest fears/hates is when others I care about get sick. No matter if its a simple cold, or if they got injured, I hate when others are hurting, it worries me to pieces and I go to the work case thinking they could die.
So when Mrs. Karen told me he was at the vet, mom and I quickly drove over to see him. He was hooked up to IV’s, and drips. The vet pulled my mom and I over and gave us the rundown. He had 3 basketball sized knots in his intestines, he was on a list of meds, and that surgery was a possibility, but that she did not recommend it since he was 19 years old. Horses who have collic surgery, and who are older than 18 years old usually do not make a full recovery, and are never the same horse again. But colic surgery costs a minimum of $30,000 and we didn’t have that kind of money laying around. The Vet also told us that Macallan had a 97% of living, and to not worry about collic surgery, but that she was just making us aware of other options.
Horses can’t throw up, so when a horse goes to throw up, their intestines begin to knot up. 97% of horses survive collicing, or have surgery to remove the mass in their stomach. Fun fact, horses intestines are as long as a football field. Vets will walk the horse or put a tube down its nose to their stomach and pump water, to manually help the horse throw up; loosening the mass of intestines, hoping to unknot it.
We spent the day walking Mac around, pumping his stomach multiple times, and I took a nap with him. After my nap, I looked into his eyes and saw that his spirit was fading. He was tired of fighting, he had tried so hard, but the time had come for him to leave us.
At 8pm, the Vet said she wanted to try one more medication. I knew by the bond Mac and I had, that he was ready to go, but she wanted to try one more med, and that we would see results in the morning. So she sent us home, and told us to get some rest.
At 9pm she called us up, and told us Mac’s heart rate was at 160, when a horses heart-rate shouldn’t be above 100. So mom, dad and I pilled in the car and sped over to the Vet’s house.
Mac was swaying side to side and you could see the pain in his eyes. The Vet asked me to leave, because she thought I was going to be scarred from seeing him this sick, but I insisted on being there. I wanted to be with my teammate, through the good times, through the times we soar over jumps, the times we walk out with that 1st we worked so hard for, and the times when we were at our worsts.
As I walked through the door, Mac saw me and his heart-rate dropped down to 90, but the vet said he was in so much pain, and the masses were so big, he was not going to make it.
We put him down that night, pain-free, and I held his head in my lap. I never realized how big of a horse he truly was, until his head was bigger than my lap.
I never thought when I woke up Monday morning that I would be putting him down that evening.
He was truly a once in a lifetime horse. I’ve been asked many times if I could, would I go back in time and change what horse, instead of choosing Mac, and my answer is: Absolutely not. Macallan made an impact on my life, and I hope I made an impact in his. I never imagined loosing a teammate, but loosing him helped me grow as a rider, as a person, and learned that you cannot take things for granted. He gave me his all every time we competed. He loved me in a way that was so special, and in a way I never had experienced with any of my other horses.
So on this day, two years ago, its the saddest day, but it’s not the day I think of when I think of Mac’s and my time together. I think of all the wins we had, all the bubble baths, all the hot summer days filled with good books and him grazing on grass, the day we had a flat tire on the side of the highway, and Mac had to get out of the trailer for mom to fix it. Those are the days I will remember, not September 5th, 2016.
Mac was my gentle giant, and I am forever grateful for all that he taught me.