“You know, no one will ever care about your horse the way that you do.” My friend said it in a testy voice. I’d gotten my first horse since leaving home and she’d heard about nothing but him for the last month. Her support was wearing thin. She missed her friend who cared about art and music and movies.
A few months later, a different friend returned home to introduce her new baby. It was her dream come true, and she was so in love with her little girl that it was hard to get a word in edgewise. She didn’t ask about my colt and I didn’t bring him up. But when I was visiting, holding the baby while she showed me photos (of the same baby), she asked, “What time do you have to go to the barn?” I smiled and reminded her, “I get to go to the barn.”
I needed some horse friends fast, before I alienated everyone I knew.
Then one day a woman walked into my gallery. I was soldering in my studio in back, and I told her I would be right out. She appeared in the doorway and saw photos of my horse on the wall. Then it happened: “Is this your horse?” She invited me to her barn to meet her horses, and a friendship began. Many years later, the day after I lost a very special gelding, I saw her name on my caller ID. It was years since we boarded together, but she was a horse friend, she knew. I choked out a meager hello, one word more than she got out. There was a brief silence on the other end, then tears before words. I’m proud to say Susan is still my friend, and I’m blessed with other horse friends just like her.
Friends who agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and once it has done so, he/she will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.”
This is what the Dude Rancher says about horse people. “They walk among us, they look just like anybody else but they’re NOT.” He’s right (even if he means it another way.)
Does this ever happen to you? You read some horrific story about horse abuse, or you have a neighbor whose daily neglect wears on your heart, or maybe someone at your barn is really hard on their horse. In that moment, the hurt and anger at your own species can result in an I hate everybody mood.
I was in that mood three weeks ago. Leslie and I had gone to see a horse she had previously owned, and I had trained. I wrote about him and the Very Thin Line between a well-loved and owned horse and a rescue horse here in my blog, as a way of trying to get past the hard feelings in that transition of bringing Our Boy back home.
I am truly humbled, overwhelmed and so grateful for the out pouring of support from so many of you. There were lots of similar stories and such good will shared here, that I know Our Boy feels the impact as well. For crying out loud, some of you even offered to send money to help! My heart swells with pride in my horse friends, a simple thank you doesn’t convey my gratitude at all.
Some of you asked for updates (like worrying about your horses aren’t enough!) Our boy is good. His eye is soft again and Edgar Rice Burro is keeping him company. His badly overgrown hooves are trimmed. He has a saddle mark on his back that is actually indented but he gets a massage this week, and with correct work those muscles will return.
I’m not sure who I was trying to protect by not using his real name but it’s Namaste. Do you know the word? It is a Buddhist/Hindu salutation, translated to mean my spirit honors yours or the Divine spark in me bows to the Divine spark in you. It’s a great name for a horse, isn’t it?
It’s a bit woo-woo for barn girls maybe, but Namaste should be how horse friends greet each other. It’s what I mean when I say howdy. (And thanks, I’ve got your back, too.)
Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.