Casting a Shadow from Beyond

Work: rain.

My post yesterday proves that I don’t let go of trauma any better than I let go of anything else.

Previous Horse was the most stubborn being I have ever met. When he said No, he meant, No, that is not physically possible, no horse has ever done it, I will not even consider it. Once you got him into an armlock and forced him into a wash stall, or into a left bend, he would look about and say Well, that was easy. What are you so hot & sweaty about? And then I never had to teach him that lesson again.

You had to meet Caesar head on. Nothing else got through to him. Whatever subtlety I had – and I had very little as even those who love me would tell me – atrophied from two decades of navigating Caesar’s monstrous ego.

So, not only is poor Rodney living in the shadow of another horse, he has to deal with me unconsciously in attack mode. I don’t like to think that my affections can be purchased, but I suspect a few blue ribbons might have gone a long way to ease the transition.

After losing a horse, how did you move on to the next one?

Categories: Barn Life, Horse Behavior, Horses

2 replies »

  1. “After losing a horse, how did you move on to the next one?”

    I cried a lot. I mean … a REAL LOT. And I’m not a teary, sappy person. I still had to take care of my husband’s two horses, so every time I walked out to the barn I wept. Not big dramatic gut-wrenching, heart rendering sobs, but a little track of tears would inevitably find their way down my face at some point while I was doing chores. It sucked. It sucked really bad. I’d told myself I was done having “my own” horse. Having two horses still in the barn meant I wasn’t truly horseless, but one was a retired senior and the other … well, he just wasn’t my cup of tea. So it only took about four weeks before I started to realize I wasn’t getting over the loss the way I thought I would and maybe, just m-a-y-b-e a new horse might do the trick.

    When I got online and started looking at ads I felt guilty, like I was betraying the memory of Tia. But the horse people I talked to were SO damn nice when they heard my horse of 23 years had just died. I started to find the telling of our story cathartic. And God bless ’em, but those folks who had to listen to me go on and on about my mare in those early days after she died were so freakin’ kind to me. I met some really caring souls.

    Even though I was “looking” I didn’t even call it that. I wasn’t fully open to the idea of another horse until I met Dharla. Up until then the looking was just something to do to occupy my mind and time, something to temporarily distract me from my grief. But something about Dharla hit me right square in the heart, and it didn’t hurt that she took an obvious shine to me too. I think the sale was sealed when I stood talking to her trainer and she quietly inched over toward me and rested her chin gently on my shoulder. Much to my embarrassment, I started crying right on the spot. (The trainer told me later … much later … that Dharla doesn’t trust everyone she meets and he was surprised by her display of trust in a complete stranger.) So I bought Dharla, not so much because I thought things through thoroughly and was certain it was the right thing to do. No, I bought her based on pure, raw emotion alone. And so far we’ re doing pretty well.

    I can sometimes still tear up when I think about Tia, which is almost every day. And I still have difficulty looking at pictures of her. And at first I used to pretend Dharla was a younger version of Tia even though I know that wasn’t very fair to Dharla. But there you have it. I’ve had Dharla a year now and I’m just starting to feel a genuine love for her and who she is separate from my hopes and dreams of what I first wanted her to be … which is to say I wanted her to be Tia. She’s not, but that’s OK now. I’m learning to accepted that a horse’s life is shorter than ours and we’re not meant to have them forever. I’ve also come to realize that I shouldn’t waste any (more) of the time I get to have with Dharla wishing she was the horse I had before. It’s time to ride and love the horse I have now. One chapter ends, but a new chapter begins.

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