Dedicated to my Sportie, and also to the four-legged friends who were the innocent victims of Hurricane Harvey's devastation
"Holding you, I held everything," from 'The Dance' by Tony Arata
I have been so grateful for this website to be an outlet of pouring out my love for Sportie, every week struggling to find the right words to express some of these overpowering feelings of connection that all horse-crazy girls harbor. Now I very sadly have to share the end of our love affair. This could never be the perfect eulogy Sportie deserves, but I need to say one final time how very special he was to me.
Last Thursday night I was totally unprepared to be sitting by Sportie's head as he slipped peacefully into Horsie Heaven. He had unexpectedly suffered a stroke that day, possibly had experienced a few mini strokes that week, and he laid down and it was over. Although he hadn't ever acted like a senior horse, having enjoyed being a big ball of energy up until his final day, his body had finally quit on him.
"Sportie," I whispered, as I caressed his ears the way he loved. "You were the best boy."
All the barn girls have their own horses but everyone had a place in their heart for Sportie. We sobbed out on each other's shoulders what a wonderful life he had, then we quietly covered his body with a tarp.
I have always hated saying goodbye to Sportie after a ride, leaving him at the fence staring at me, as his big brown eyes eloquently tried to coax one more treat out of me. This would always work at least once or twice before I finally had to get going.
But this - this was our final goodbye and no treat could prolong it. I sat in the moonlight, stroking his soft muzzle for about an hour until his nose grew as cold as if it was a December morning instead of the last night of August.
As we were together in the stillness, I was heartbroken and reluctant to leave, never to see him again. I listened on repeat to Garth Brooks sing "The Dance" and pictured the first day I saw Sportie.
It was love at first sight: December 27, 2014.
"This is Sport," Mary had introduced us. I scratched his ear, gave him a treat and he leaned into me. What if Mary had been psychic and had continued:
"He's a handful though. He will make you pay attention at all times, he might veer right when you want a left, he might buck the odd time and spook when you least expect it, but he has a heart the size of Texas. Oh, and you will quickly fall hopelessly in love with him, but God needs him Home in His stables no later than 9 pm Aug 31, 2017."
No hesitation, no question. Even though 40 years of Sportie wouldn't have been long enough, I'd take that deal, any day. I don't know how I would have survived the past 32 months without him. He took a huge chunk of my heart when he left, but I will carry his sweet spirit with me the rest of my life. Run free, Sportie.
"I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance."