I love horses. Always have. From the time I was old enough to hold a crayon, the only thing I’ve attempted to draw (with no success whatso) is a horse. The first book my parents gave me for Christmas was mostly pictures of pony breeds. As a teenager, I was happiest on the back of a horse. When I was hogtied in the Slough of Despond in my mid-thirties, horses towed me back onto solid ground.
So when, a couple years ago, some very good horse friends called and said, “We found the very best horse for you. Come take a test ride!” I–who HATE to fly–was on the next puddlejumper.
He was handsome, he was kind. He had no ambitions beyond mine, he was lovable, huggable.. and he was in Florida. By the time I got him home to Maryland, we were in the dedda-winter. The barn I’d found was an hour away, I couldn’t click with a trainer, couldn’t get to see my pony very often, couldn’t ride enough to feel any sense of returning fitness.
It just wasn’t working–for me or for him. When I told my daughter this, she asked if maybe Dante would be happy with her for a while, and in another year or so, I could try to re-establish my horse girl creds. Well… you do what’s best for the horse. Always, no matter what. They put their trust in us, and that’s the end of the discussion, as far as I’m concerned. I sent him west, and he came off the trailer three-legged, head-bobbing, lame.
He’d been injured in transit–though try proving that–and thus needed a long layup. My brother came to the rescue, making a bunk for Dante in Sante Fe, though Dante speaks dressage, and my brother’s more of a trail-riding, gallop across the high desert, kinda guy. Dante gradually regained his soundness, but at this point, he was 2000 miles from home. Getting him back to Maryland would have been astronomically expensive, and for all I know, he might have ended up re-injured.
I let him go. Friends and friends and friends helped me out, and the upshot is my boy now has a forever home at a lovely facility that does both therapeutic and abled riding. He’ll be OK, in other words, while I’m left to wonder why I let one of the most surefire sources of happiness in my life slip through my fingers. I simply didn’t put forth the effort to make it work when I had the chance.
Worse, I might not ever put forth that effort again. I hope not–but when I look back on 2015, and see me driving in Scotland, checking out a M.Litt program, and publishing like a house afire… I also see Dante, moseying down the trail, and the rider on his broad and comfy back will never be me.
Have you had to let go, move on, take a pass, or comfort yourself with hope for another try another day? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of What A Lady Needs for Christmas, wherein our hero was named Dante. For reasons.