A letter to my new horse:
You did not ask for these shoes to fill- and they’re very big shoes. You did not ask to be the one after the one. All you ask for, is all any horse asks for, all any former racehorse asks for: to be loved, to belong to someone, and to be given the opportunity to love in return.
You see, I didn’t count on you. We call them “heart horses” and I had my heart horse for more than 18 years. I got him as a scrawny coming-5-year-old stud colt, not much unlike you. He wasn’t great at the track, and didn’t have a future in breeding. He was a train wreck, and we were a train wreck together. But we got through our awkward years together, and he became my partner in crime, my best friend, and my confidant. I went from a quiet teenager, to college student, to graduate student, to wife, to mom. He was a constant through all the formative stages of my life. I lost him very suddenly, and I didn’t count on you.
I planned to wait for at least a year after losing my heart horse. I thought I’d first get a medium or large pony for my kids to ride, something big enough for me to hop on, too. Or maybe, I’d get a thoroughbred with a few miles on him. Something restarted that I could have fun with at shows and paces.
I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. But there you were. 3 months after losing a piece of my heart, there was this 3-year-old stud colt. The cousin of my heart horse. More than 20 years apart in age. And you needed a soft spot to land. I couldn’t imagine anyone else having you. I felt certain that I would regret passing up this opportunity. And just like that, we were making plans for you to come home with me.
I don’t know how long I was supposed to wait. You can never replace your heart horse. Some people thought I should get another horse right away (and tagged me in listing after listing of sale horses, relentlessly) and some thought I should give it a few years. I don’t think there’s a right answer. It would always feel odd. Any 18 year relationship is owed as many moments as are required. In some ways, you pushed me over the edge. It would never feel the same, but we took the plunge anyway.
I can’t just hop on you and ride yet. We’re still working on keeping your head on straight under saddle, and going forward instead of up. You do not love to be groomed, but I’m trying to help you understand. You are definitely not kid proof, which makes it hard to explain to my 4-year-old when he asks if he can ride you. I don’t know every inch of you like I knew every inch of him. I can’t predict your every move, like I could predict his. I don’t trust you implicitly, the way I trusted him. We don’t fit together perfectly, like he and I did. Sitting on your back doesn’t feel like home, the way I felt so utterly at home with him.
But you are sweet, like he was sweet. You know my kids are little walking treat dispensers, like he did. You are smart, just like him. You know I’m your person. You try hard, and you have opinions, so much like him.
Please forgive me when I compare you to him, as I know I will. Remind me how much I enjoy your 3-year-old energy. Be patient when I expect too much from you. Show me all the things I love about you just one more time. Help me remember all the good times with him, by creating new ones with you.
We will get through these awkward times together, learning each other’s quirks, just like he and I did. You are not him, and I am not the same person I was when he came into my life. In the four short months we’ve been together, we’ve both changed. I’m not sure where we’re going just yet, but we’ll get there together. You are my horse, and you are loved.