Organic mourning on the track

Published on 12 November 2023 at 15:13

Organic mourning on the track

I have lost 5 horses over the course of 23 years, of which my first and childhood love Jimmy. Jimmy’s passing affected me so heavily I had to go into therapy. I was this always happy, outgoing funny person, always singing, always making fun, always laughing… Jimmy’s passing changed that forever. I became an entirely new person, I had to learn who I was and how to live all over again, without Jimmy. 

Of course, I grew up with him, which makes things entirely different than loosing a horse when one is already an established adult. Still, even so, these tremendously loved horses can have an impact on a human’s life that is incomprehensible for those who never loved a horse and was loved by a horse, so deeply.

The support I received for Owen’s passing was immense, and I thank each and every one of you for your messages of love and understanding. It meant a lot. And, as many of you have suffered the same and will suffer the same in the future alas, I wanted to share the following.



This post, in fact, is not actually about Owen’s passing in itself. It is really a post about track life. You see, the passing of a horse in a classic box situation and the passing of a horse in a track or in a herd was largely different to me and to the horses and I thought this too needs to be shared, as it is of equal importance than are all the other factors in play, when having horses living on a track.

With Owen’s passing, there weren’t a lot of ‘last time things’. With that I mean, the cleaning of the box for the last time, for instance, or looking at the empty box which can be so excruciating. This, even though Owen still left a huge empty hole, actually lessened the trauma a bit.


During Owen’s last painful night hours, he was not alone in a box but he was accompanied with his nephew and his best friend, who were with him the whole time. Staying close to him and often licking him softly. While I arranged things such as getting the vet in etc. When Owen passed in my arms, the other horses were there too.


They comforted me, as I comforted them.

They took turns to take watch over Owen’s body the first day. When my mother came to say goodbye to Owen and cried next to his body, the horses came and started comforting her, very softly and carefully (she is blind and they somehow know to be very careful around her, even rambunctious Ino). Ino gently stood over her and touched her head with his chin, barely noticeable. It meant the world to her. As sad as it was, it was very beautiful to witness, and it was again proof to me of how cognitive horses are. The way the horses and I had our wake at Owen’s body was a healing experience I never had before.


Yes, we would let the horses say goodbye to one that had passed before, but that is not the same than when they are free to move, visit and watch, whenever they wanted, as was possible now, living… and dying… on the track.

When a horse has his last resting place in a box, all of this is not possible. I will include this in my new book ‘On the right track’ as one of the many advantages for horse and human alike, of herd life in general and track life especially. I am sure I am not the first one to find this out obviously, nevertheless, I found it important to share.


Thank you for reading and thanks again to all of you for your support and to read that Owen meant so much to so many of you for many years. We are coming to terms with the fact that he is no longer physically with us, and we are taking the time to reinvent ourselves, in a world without him. This transition is clear to see with the horses as well, as their roles now have changed. Another thing I never saw this clear, before track life.

If you are thinking about transitioning to a track… I can full heartedly tell you to just go ahead and do it. Don’t wait, just do it.


For the love of horses,


© All rights reserved Josepha Guillaume - Dressage in Hand

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