It’s Just a Horse
By April D. Ray
I remember the first time it happened. I was just a kid, maybe eight or nine years old. I had fallen in love with the horse at the barn where I took lessons, and now he was for sale. His name was Sonny, a small chestnut of unknown breeding.
I don’t remember that much about him, but I do remember begging my parents to buy him, then of course being heartbroken when they gently explained that buying a horse just was not within our means. Not long after that, he left the barn and I was left with my first broken heart of many – a broken heart that differs from that of most people’s experience. It wasn’t because a boy had dumped me or told me he didn’t like me anymore. Horse heartbreak is much different and a feeling some of us are far too familiar with.
I can recount every single special horse that has come and gone in my life. I can tell you what I loved about each of them, maybe what I hated about them, but most importantly I can tell you what they taught me. Some have been tragic losses, some were happy endings, and some are too painful to recall.
This is a small sample of the horses I have been lucky enough to work with.
Some of you may say, “It’s just a horse.” In response I say that you just don’t get it, and I truly feel sorry for you because you’ll never know the bond that transpires between a person and a horse. You’ll never know the crazy and amazing things that happen when you teach each other skills, love, and life lessons, and when you end up spending more time with this horse than you do with anyone else in your life. You give your all and in return the good ones give just the same to you. You would think it would get easier each time, but in fact I find it just gets harder. It seems that with every horse that comes and goes in your life, their leaving digs up the past hurts from all the others, and you go through the heartbreaks of the past again.
Horses will always take a piece of me away with them, but what they taught me and gave me will help to fill that empty place they leave behind.
“Horses aren’t my whole life, they make my life whole.”
More horses of a lifetime.
Main photo: Erika Dales