Satirist Jonathan Swift thought that
when compared to humans, horses were especially noble, intelligent
The young male quarterhorse that survived being struck by a semi
truck Dec. 16, while its three companions died at the scene,
is expected to make a full recovery.
But the veterinarian who treated him said that even with his own
injuries and the deaths of his companions, the horse helped
responders and kept himself safe.
As for the trauma of the event, Claire Smith, equine
veterinarian at Sound
Equine in Poulsbo, said horses are sensitive animals and may be
better equipped than humans to deal with loss.
“I would say horses in general are better at grief and emotions
than people are,” said Smith. “They don’t fight it.”
The owners of the horses have asked that their names not be
released, and Smith declined to release the name of the horse, but
she said there has been an outpouring of support, including pasture
for the horse to recuperate.
The horse was wounded, and the other three killed, on Highway 3
near Big Valley Road outside Poulsbo. They were hit by a 1985
Peterbilt semi truck.
The surviving horse was hit in the thorax, and suffered lacerations
to its ribs and hindquarters, and secondary injuries likely caused
from rolling on the pavement, commonly known as “road rash.”
“I don’t know how much he knows about his missing friends,
certainly horses in general do know the difference between death
and somebody just not being around any more,” Smith said, noting
that in the event of a death, horses stop calling for their
friends. “They certainly understand that sort of thing. I don’t
know yet if when he gets home, after a period of convalescence, he
will wonder where his friends are, or be able to process it. It’s
hard to say.”
Smith said when she arrived at the scene, a Samaritan had caught
him with a dog leash and was holding him on the side of the road.
She noticed then that despite being in shock, he was dealing
“Horses won’t stand on the side of the road with traffic
screaming by them, with flashing lights, and he quietly stood there
and seemed happy to have comfort,” she said. “Not only that, he was
willing to get into a strange horse trailer. He was incredibly
brace brave and well-behaved. Some of that was probably
shock, but in the end he contributed to saving his own life by not
racing around, getting badly spooked, jumping in front of another
oncoming car in a panic. He really helped himself out. And he was
very good for me to work on.”
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