But on the other hoof…

Mane Man 003I 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.

dante-heather-rainbow-206x300He’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 DanteXawayXin 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.   

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26 comments on “But on the other hoof…

  1. Ahh Grace your post had me nodding in agreement. It is so very hard to give up our dreams. I have mentioned before that I am a Pastor, well due to mistakes on my part and wanting to maintain my integrity, I had to give up for a long while (going on nearly two years now). It was so very hard an absolutely heartbreaking, but what. However, it has worked for the best and as of just yesterday I am back in the pastoral saddle again (to use a turn of phrase).
    We must alway have hope to keep our dreams alive, we should endevour never to lose that hope because without it our dreams die, and only when we let them die are dreams really unachievable. All is not lost when you have hope.

  2. The hardest things for me to let go of have been relationships. There have been times when I have had to drop relationships because they were just bad for my well being. And then there were times that I just had to accept someone as they are – not as I want them to be – because I did love them and wanted them in my life. Never easy.

    • I’ve tended to hang on to the wrong relationships too hard and too long, though experience has helped with this. Now I’m more jealous of my time and my fire. I’d rather spend time with my dukes and damsels than just about anything else!

  3. It’s hard to give up something that’s important to you. I have had to put my dog breeding plans on hold– well truth be told — they are suspended!

    I love dogs- puppies, young adults and seniors. I enjoy breeding,training and showing. My husband was laid off from his job 7 years ago and haven’t had a litter since. The upfront costs to breed are expensive and with one income, a daughter in college with plans towards law school & masters program, breeding a litter isn’t in my future.

    It broke my heart to spay Celeste last year as it means I have to start all over again. Ugh. I am training in obedience with two corgis and staying active in my club. So, I am having fun– just a different type of fun! Some times, you have to figure out a way to stay in the game. I couldn’t go to our club’s National show but I could watch the streaming video for $15 and watch a friends dogs so she could attend, I can’t go to a dog show every weekend but I can train each weekend. It’s great excessive and best of all Celeste takes a nap when we get home. Being good makes her sleepy.

    Congrats on Daniel hitting the best seller list! He’s my kind of hero!

  4. I got a little teary-eyed reading this. Regrets are so difficult, aren’t they? My big regret for 2015 was turning down my dream job. I was offered the position of my dreams but because it isn’t a normal 9-5 type of job, it was nearly impossible to find child care that could accommodate the work schedule I was being offered. My husband tried to adjust his schedule to help out, but he has certain appointments at work that can’t be changed. After several weeks of searching for appropriate child care with no luck, I gave up and tured down the job. I have regretted it every day.

    • Oh, that is a bitter, bitter pill. Exactly the choice you should not have had to make, but what else can you do?

      I was at my desk one day when out of the blue, I got a call from the cops. My three year old daughter was “in custody,” because her day care mom (properly licensed and trained by the county DSS) had gotten drunk on the job. Another parent had reported the day care mom’s inebriation, the police had come by, and I had an hour to go fetch my daughter before she’d be turned over to foster care.

      Fortunately, my boss understood–the day care home was 45 minutes from the office–and I could drop everything and get my kid.

      If the child care won’t line up, you’re stuck. When the other parent can’t flex, you are absolutely stuck, stuck, stuck, and you made the only choice you could. Will hope better options come your way soon.

      • Chuld care can be so scary. Glad you were able to have a boss who understood emergencies! A friend of mine just had two employees at her child’s daycare caught doing meth on the job. Simply terrifying.

        One of the surprising things with this job offer was that I even got the job in the first place! I’m a nurse, but have taken a couple years off to be at home, so I’m not the top candidate for most jobs. So, I was ecstatic to even be offered the job. But, you’re right…there was no other choice and that fact makes me sad.

  5. The first thing that came to mind was the day the doctor first mentioned autism in regards to the twins. It was at their three year well-check the day after their third birthday. I had known for a year that something wasn’t quite up to participate with them and the summer before their birthday my mom and I had discussed the possibility of autism because one of the twins was obsessed with numbers and letters, mostly numbers then. He was amazing with numbers and how high he could count at the age of two and just so many other things he knew that most two year old kids did not. But he and his brother couldn’t answer the simplest of questions and theye had yet to call me Mom or Eric, Dad.
    Up until that well-check day the only thing I knew about autism is what I had seen on the news magazine television shows. And while some of it fit my boys not all of it did. I didn’t realize how different autism was in each child diagnosed.
    After that day we literally went through the stages of mourning. We were mourning the loss of all the dreams we had for the boys and everything we had hoped for them. We also had to come early to grips with the reality that these boys may always need to live with us. So much for having kids early so we could have our middle years to do fun things. I was also four months pregnant and so worried that that baby too would have autism.
    Of course that was eleven years ago and we now have different dreams for the twins and our outlook isn’t so bleak. I wish I could go back eleven years and let myself know how amazing theses boys were going to be and how the dreams didn’t really die, they just changed.
    I feel like I got second chance when our youngest son was diagnosed with autism almost exactly eight years later. The whole process was not as daunting. I knew what was coming and I knew it wasn’t such a bad thing.
    I am blessed with four amazing boys and while some dreams for them passed away, I still have hope that their futures are very bright with so many possibilities.

    • Mourning… very apt term, given current events. All change, whether it’s a move to Scotland, the birth of a child, the decision to train a dog rather than breed, involves loss. As one friend pointed out, dreams in particular have a long grieving cycle, because it takes so much courage to come up with new one.

      You and your menfolk have done that–come up with new dreams. Hats off to you all, and happy dreaming!

    • You have such a beautiful way of expressing all the complex emotions that you’ve experienced through your life. I always enjoy reading your comments!

  6. There have been a few relationships through the years that I tried to hold on to but eventually realized that I was doing all the trying — friendships that became long distance, a guy I was dating, and most recently my brother’s ex who always has an excuse for backing out of get togethers so my nephew can spend time with my family. I still send cards and gifts for birthdays and Christmas to my nephew, but haven’t received any acknowledgement for a couple years.

    I really enjoyed DANIEL! Yes, there were some seriously frustrated moments, but I love the way you resolved everything. You may have created a few more characters deserving of their own stories later on with this first set of scholars. 🙂

    • Divorce is one of those changes that always involves loss, and it’s not a change the children EVER choose or un-choose. In Maryland, parents have to do “co-parenting” training if they’re contesting custody, and they watch movie after movie were the kids say things like, “Mom and Dad told me I’d have two houses now, but I feel like I have no home at all.”

      You’re a trooper for keeping the lines open with your nephew. Don’t give up on him. If he tries to reciprocate, he probably gets a ration of crap, however subtly. That you stuck with him will mean a lot someday, to him, if not to his dad.

    • In all my years of lawyering for children, there has been one expert witness I could count on to set the court, the social workers, and me straight when we get too bogged down in the legalities or the egos. This guy is a very learned academic, but he started out as a juvenile delinquency officer. He didn’t like what he saw from that perspective–very little help for the kids, very little problem solving–so he went back to school for a LONG time.
      He has no children, but that has–I think–in him preserved a purity of purpose where advocating for children is concerned that somebody who’s been down in the parental trenches would lose. For this fellow, there is no “other hand” that justifies diluting the child’s best interest with what’s convenient or practical for the parents, lawyers or social workers. He has always spoken truth on behalf of the children, though he has no children of his own.

      All of that is to say, in your “not bad” life, you’ve probably done far more than you know to advance kindness, honesty, and other neglected virtues. Just ask your cats for their opinion.

  7. I’m afraid I’ve done that with a lot of things. Confidence building was never much of a thing in our family so I settle. In hindsight I would do things differently, but then I guess a lot of people would too. It seems by the time I figure things out, it’s too late. Oh, well, I have learned to live in the moment and accept things as they are and enjoy the little pleasures in life!

    • I think it was Maya Angelou who said, “Weak people give up and stay, strong people give up and move on.” To the extent you give up on battles and power struggles, you are STRONG, Jeanne.

      I’m getting increasingly sucked into battles and power struggles on social media, because I’m haunted by the “all that’s required is for good people to do nothing,” aspect of destroying a community, but as somebody said to me the other day, “Is flailing around on social media DOING anything?”

      If I had more of your capacity for being in the moment, and being myself in the moment, THAT might amount to DOING something!

  8. I can agree with all your comments Grace, I too was horse mad when I was growing up, crazy horse mad. My dad even owned a saddle repair shop in a small town in Texas, but we never could quite afford to make that dream of owning a horse a reality. So just after I graduated and moved from home, I started looking for my own horse, but alas that search put in the hospital for two weeks with a broken pelvis and two cracked hips after a horse reared up over backwards with me and I ended up underneath him. I did eventually get back up on horse, but I let the dream of owning one go. But that is ok, other dreams did come true and anytime I have the chance to love on one I take it.

    • Yikes!!!
      Knock wood, I have never had that terrible, horrible, awful, very bad fall from a horse. They happen to the best riders on the steadiest horses, too. Hats off to you for getting back on (safely), and also for knowing when to dismount…

  9. Due to my health I horseback ride with a friend, no longer keeping an equine love or my own. Regaining enough health to occasionally get back in the saddle is a tremendous quality of life upgrade. Respecting that I am not healthy enough to have one of my own is still bittersweet. Expect it always will be.

  10. Hello Grace – I was curious about Dante and started doing some research – so glad I found your blog! My daughter, Lauren, is currently half leasing Dante. She has been riding just for fun since kindergarten, but last year we decided to get into showing. I can’t tell you how much we all love Dante! He is so beautiful – the first time I saw him he took my breath away! Rest assured that he is very much loved by all the girls at the barn (and their moms who, like you, dreamed, drew, and longed for a horse since I was little). Dante has a special place in our hearts! It’s nice to know a little bit about his life before we were lucky enough to cross paths with him!