“I'll keep a part of you with me, and everywhere I am there you'll be.” Diane Warren
“Why are you going to the stables this morning? You should take a break,” my daughter commented, knowing how badly I was missing my Sportie who had passed on two days previously.
“It’s my day to do chores. I’m not going to ride but we’ve been short-handed lately, I didn’t want to bother anyone to take my turn,” I answered, my eyes tearing up at the thought of my first day there without Sportie’s welcoming nicker. “I’ll be okay…it’s always a good thing to be around horses.”
I was greeted by warm hugs from the small community of workers and boarders who drop in on Saturday mornings. They all had suggestions of who I could ride next. I knew they meant well and it was nice to have options, but I replied that I was just going to do my weekly chores and take a month off from riding.
“For almost three years when I left my house on a Saturday morning, I never said, ‘I get to ride today!’…I would say, “I get to see Sportie today!’” I said to the stable manager. “Riding was just the cherry on top to spending a few hours with that horse. It’s really hard to think of riding without him.”
Everyone seemed very understanding and left me alone, except for Joan. She showed up towards the end of my chores and unexpectedly said, “You should ride Misty today.” Joan boards a few horses at the stables and Misty is her favorite.
“No. I need a break but thanks,” I tried to smile as I walked by Sportie’s empty stall. “But I have some flowers for Sportie if you want to ride the golf cart out back to his gravesite with me.”
She joined me and gave me a huge hug as we stood beside the new grave for a moment, with a chorus of birds singing in the trees. On our ride back she wouldn’t take my “no” to riding for an answer, although I said it a few times.
“All of us out here – we all know what it’s like to lose a horse,” said Joan. “It makes you heartsick. But you have to get back in the saddle because that’s the best medicine.”
Within half an hour I was on Misty while she rode her backup horse, Angel. Both horses behaved wonderfully and Joan was the perfect riding partner as we walked in companionable silence. The rocking motion of the saddle had a soothing effect on me physically, mentally, emotionally, and the autumn breeze cooled the back of my neck. It was just what the doctor ordered.
Sportie can never be replaced and I cherish his memory in my heart. But riding has always been my sanity, and so the ride goes on.