I miss him. Becks, my beloved horse who I said goodbye to on December 12, 2013. Some people may think, “it was just a horse”, but to me, having gone through a few difficult years in my personal life, he was more than that. He was my riding partner, he was my pet, but most of all, he was a shining light on some very dark days. Saying goodbye to him was THE most difficult thing I have had to do since having my own horses since the age of 15. When I lost him, I needed to take a break from riding – not from teaching or being around horses – but out of the saddle.
The first month was painful. Walking past his empty stall, opening up my locker and seeing his things: his favourite brush, the special saddle pad with his name embroidered on it, the new bridle I had purchased in November, in anticipation of showing him this show season. I kept everything as it was when he was here. I didn’t move his cooler or blankets off his stall, nor did I erase his name off his stall sign.
As one month moved to two, I started to miss riding (even though it was February and I am really not a fan of cold weather riding;). With the encouragement from two supportive horsey friends, Cindy and Debra, I dusted off my saddle and tacked up Sera, my 16 year old Quarterhorse who I have had since she was 2. When I got “back in the saddle”, all I could think about was riding Becks, with his comfortable trot, smooth canter and all of the great rides we shared together. With tears streaming down my face, I gave Sera a pat, thanked her for the ride and hopped off. As much as I have always enjoyed riding Sera, we didn’t have that special bond.
A few months ago, in April, my friend, Sue, offered me the ride on her gelding, Disco. I had always dreamed of having a big, gorgeous Warmblood to ride and now was my chance. The only problem was that I had no connection to him even though I tried. I would groom him, give him treats, ride him…but it wasn’t there. I sent him back to Sue in June and at that time, I thought that maybe I would be taking a longer break from riding than I originally thought.
I have had a very busy summer – running Foxwood summer riding camp as well as coaching my students in lessons and at horseshows – and I have had time to reflect on WHY I ride. Yes, I love galloping across the newly cut hay field beside my house just as much as I enjoy jumping in my large, grass outdoor riding ring…but not just on any horse. It has to be on THAT horse. The one I feel connected to. The one who understands when I am having a bad day and won’t spook at the paperbag blowing across the ring as we ride. The one who I can just bring into the barn and groom, and talk to. The one who understands me as much as I understand him/her.
Becks has been gone now for 8 months and as much as I miss him, I also miss riding. My tack needs be cleaned and oiled and my boots need to be shined up because I am ready to ride again:)! It might not happen right away but I hope to find a new horse to connect with. I know s/he can never replace Becks but it will be nice to have a new one to love.
Until next time,
P.S. – I’m going to look at “Toby” tomorrow. Another Thoroughbred off the track…because that’s what I seem to connect with. Wish me luck!