It’s been a bad year for memories. Two of my beloved horses, who had gone into happy retirements, passed away in 2012. If you’re an equiphile, you understand. There are only so many great horses in the world, and if we’re lucky, one might cross our paths. I have been lucky enough to own many good horses. In fact, I still own some today, but the “great ones” have now left me.
It’s not all bad, because my goals have changed. I no longer compete in the grueling sport of endurance (so called because your legs feel like gruel afterwards), and I ride now for pleasure, preferring long ambles in the forest, preferably in the company of friends. A great horse is probably wasted on me–I sent my last potentially great one up to Ohio to live with a younger, fitter fellow who has yet to feel the icy grip of middle age (jeez…melodramatic much?). Point is, my snot-rocket days are probably over.
When someone dies, we sometimes shut down for a while. Memories prove painful at first, as they do now for me. The recollection of untold hours spent conquering untold miles through some of the most beautiful country on God’s earth, knowing that the horse and I would take care of each other, makes me sad. I don’t know why, really, as these past events won’t happen again even should my lovelies have lived forever (which I wish they could). I suppose the finality of death has brought that reality home.
Over the next few weeks, I’d like to share several examples of how great these wonderful horses were–how much they enriched my life. If you are an equiphile and have a story to share, please do! I’ll post it.
We don’t–we can’t–sing their praises enough.
Let’s begin with the tale of the Kettle Moraine ride in Wisconsin. It was a hundred-mile, fairly easy course (with a few exceptions), that provided two unforgettable memories. One was the gallop through the L-O-N-G flat stretch through a beautiful grassland. The moon was up, the sky a deep purple shading to black, and the ground mist lent an otherworldly quality to the sight of two white Arabians moving in relative silence, side-by-side, tails in the air. I had never felt freer than in that moment–moving in perfect synchrony with this patient-yet-spirited creature who had so willingly allowed me to share it with her. The ride went on and on, the ground falling back beneath our feet, and my friend and I never wanted it to end.
The other memorable moment came later, after several additional hours of effort. We had slowed to a walk through the pitch-black of a pine forest. I could barely see my hand in front of my face, but I could make out the pair of white ears moving steadily back and forth in rhythm as my patient mare made her way resolutely toward the finish line, which was still about eight miles away. I knew she wouldn’t fail me, and that was a great comfort. An undetermined number of minutes later, I was shocked to realize that I had actually fallen asleep on her back! I had been dreaming of sunny trails, ducking under low-hanging branches, trotting along happily. Now all I saw was that same pair of ears, still moving in the same rhythm, as if to say: “go back to sleep. I’ll get you there”. And she did. If you’re lucky, you have a horse like that once in a lifetime.
R.I.P Auzzie (“Eros”) 1980-2012
R.I.P. Starborrne (“Siva”) 1984-2012