Saturday, November 3, 2007

How Long do you Stay in Love with a Horse?

It's been over six months since I sent Penny, the first palomino I ever owned, my "dream horse," to her new home in another state. She'd injured her suspensory to the point that she'd never be rideable, even for trail rides. And I wasn't about to breed her. The days of raising foals was over for me. But because of her bloodlines and her fantastic, metallic golden color, she was highly desirable to breeders of working cow horses and reiners. Once I got her pasture sound it wasn't hard to find her a good home. In fact, I got to select just where she'd go, and she ended up at a wonderful ranch where she's well fed, valued and gets to roam a large grass pasture. And she's already in-foal. She looks happy. But I still miss her.

Even though I have two beautiful horses that are sound, safe and fun to ride on the trails, I still get nostalgic thinking about Penny. I know she's often on my mind because every now and then, when I go to halter or bridle my current palomino mare, Lexi, I accidentally call her, "Penny."

This whole issue comes up because I wandered over to the website of the breeder who owns Penny now and there she is, a lovely photo of her on the page devoted to the ranch's broodmares. I admit it. I got teary-eyed.

So, how long do you stay in love with a horse? What is it that makes us hold on to the depth of emotion that bonded us to a particular equine? Why is it so hard to let go, to embrace the new horse, to wistfully say, "Ah, that mare (or gelding or stallion) was a grand animal, one I'm thankful that I was blessed with," and then move on?

I have photos of Penny. I have memories. But I guess I'll also always have a soft, empty spot in my heart for a horse I'll never stop loving.

If you have a special horse you'd like to tell me about, just click on the word "comments" below or email me at:


Anonymous said...

My dear friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer about 4 years ago, moved to a home with a small 2-stall barn where she boarded a young mustang gelding for a women who lived in Montana. While she was in Germany for treatment, I had the great pleasure of taking full care of this wild soul. The first time I laid my eyes on Cody, a long-legged, awkward yearling, I couldn't stop looking. I have loved horses since birth, had a few riding lessons on a Shetland when I was young, and was forced to love them from a distance and through books because of my where I lived. Cody was my miracle that saved me from the darkness of depression. It was only me and him every day for almost three years with the occasional, stressful visit from the farrier and vet. We spent many hours playing, sleeping, and just doing nothing together. I would go to him when I was sad or scared, and he would breathe a long sigh into my hair and tell me that it's okay. He had colic once, and I spent all night with him, comforting him, and to my relief, he was soon okay and his sweet, perky self. It was that sad day a few months ago when I watched him being loaded into a trailer and the big door close behind him that I felt really alone. I sat in my truck, watched until the trailer turned the corner and was out of sight, that I let a few tears fall. I dreamt that night of all the peaceful, happy, stressful, boring days that made that certain chapter of my life complete. I still wake up with his smell in the air, or his touch on my fingertips. Now, in the early hours of each morning, I look up into the sky, find the constellation of Orion, and tell him to comfort Cody, and to help him remember me. I believe that you stay in love with a horse forever. There is no end of love, and I believe a horse will always remember not only you, but the many days of doing nothing that you and him spent together.

mary k. said...

I am only 14 years old and yet I've found my horse love in life. My story isn't as compelling as the one above. A guidance counselor at my school found out that I loved horses and invited me to come to her barn one day. Not owning one myself, I agreed. I don't like riding because of a bad fall I had some years before and I told her this. She said it was okay; there were two senior equines who could use a little TLC. I pictured an old spotted gelding; just my mental premonition of an older horse.

I met Jack. He was a 23 year old no-longer-ridden-due-to-arthritis swaybacked half-blind appaloosa gelding. He fit my mental picture so accurately I had to look twice.

Since he couldn't be ridden, I just groomed him whenever I got the chance. He sat quietly, head down, ears flopped out like airplane propellers. I gave him bubble baths when it wasn't too cold. The only time he ever moved fast was when I released him into the field without putting his fly mask on first. I swear, he skidded away quicker than Smarty Jones.

I only came to know Jack for a month or two before we moved away, but I loved every minute I spent with him. He was known as the veteran of the stable. I don't know how he felt about me ("Hey, there's that pesky little kid again")but I loved nothing more than to watch his neck stretch out in glee when i gave his bony shoulder a scratch. Love for a horse never dies. My heart softens even as I write this, and I met Jack two years ago. Horses bring unexpected joy into our lives and we spent the rest of ours trying to thank them.

Anonymous said...

I don't think we forget great horses. Just like we don't forget family members. We loved them and they loved us back. That's what we should remember.

Anonymous said...

My horse, Gypsy, died last year becuase of cancer that made it where she couldn't eat anything. I now have another horse, a TWH, along with the other horse I already had, a quarter horse cross. Even though I love both of them dearly, sometimes it feels like I can't love them as much as I loved Gypsy. I know how you feel.

Anonymous said...

my arabian mare and i loved each other through it all. she is my baby and she knows it.