By Delores Kuhlwein, Online Editor
The last couple of weeks have been rough. We shared more equine obituary news than I could digest. Early this week, I was thinking how grateful I was to have “better news” to share, and then it hit me that people were still suffering from last week’s sad news.
I read one time that when someone suffers the loss of a loved one, people at first surround the person with love and condolences, but it’s down the road – a week, a month, or much later – that the person might really need that outreach, even if it’s a simple greeting card or a quick text.
So I wondered – after all the condolences have been said when you’ve lost a horse, and the void of space and time lies ahead of you, how do you cope?
The heartfelt wishes said – and sent by text, and email, and even mail –for a few days, and maybe a little bit longer, mean all the world.
Then the corner turns on Sunday, and the next week stretches out to eternity.
The hole inside you seems to have grown larger, and though you wish for something to distract you or make it better, you’re terrified someone will ask you how you are doing, because you might have to answer truthfully. And then you might fall apart.
You continue to shuffle out to the barn because, as your husband reminds you, the other horses still need you, and it’s the singular thought that gets you moving. Because you don’t want your other horses to feel bad or suffer in any way, and the old worry about the suffering of your heart horse becomes fresh again.
So you immerse yourself in those few moments when you’re not facing the empty stall, by raking the aisle, or currying away the dust and dirt, and placing your nose in the mane of another horse and losing yourself in the scent.
A ride aboard another horse seems like the best alternative, but it’s different – maybe even frustrating, because you don’t click perfectly with this one and you go through the motions. But for that short time, you are with only that horse, and the pain subsides.
As time passes, you think you’ll be okay, because the left side of your brain, the logical side, says you did the right thing, and your heart horse is no longer in pain, and you try to cling to those thoughts. As you begin plodding through life, you try to accept the old adage once said to you: There is always another pony to love.
You aren’t sure you could bear another loss like this, however.
But you wipe your tears and pull yourself up by your bootstraps and say to yourself, “I’ve got this – it happens to every horse lover and we have been tasked with caring for them – it’s just part of the deal.”
You can’t seem to reason with the right side of your brain, however, in those moments when a photo pops up in your Facebook memories, or when you fill out a show entry form and you have to type a different name, or when you wake and remember that stall is still empty.
Yet we as horse owners – we somehow persevere, and the days become a little easier, one-by-one.
We know that the support of our fellow horse lovers – not just the wishes they send us at first, but the fact that they understand completely what you just went through – is what will get us through.
That deeply understood fellowship, there for us from the heartbreak to the victories and joys are what makes us all true survivors. It’s what allows us to share that unrelenting passion for the horse with more than one beloved pony.