Sunday, December 27, 2020

When things end

It has been over five years since my last post and many, many things have changed. One of the most significant changes was the loss of The Spotty Horse Herself in April of 2016. 

I wrote about it then for our local horse publication but I never posted it here. I don't really know why except this blog had ceased to hold my time and attention as I moved more and more of my time and energy into teaching SCUBA and exploring the world under the waves. 

Here is what I wrote then, not knowing more changes were on the horizon. Perhaps this is my way of saying good bye to 2020 and opening the door to 2021, perhaps it's just me remembering how I got here.

Lena's last trip to Slide

We didn’t start out to be a horse family at all, it just kind of happened. One day, we were riding horses at a ranch near Yosemite and WHAM the next day we had Lena. We spent that first two years as a one-horse family, Lena having enough energy and attention-seeking behavior to manage three humans with ease. Then along came Calabar, adding a whole new personality--one that balanced Lena in interesting ways and gave us a lot of adventures as a two-horse family. This year has brought us painfully back to being a one-horse family. It’s still too raw and too new to know how this will play out but it’s part of this journey we chose when we brought home our first horse, that beautiful spotty mare that changed us forever. 

Okay, so it was a little more involved than WHAM. We wanted to take my daughter Katie on an adventure and found this ranch in Gold Country that offered fun (not nose-to-tail) trail rides and cutting lessons. We rode entertaining horses for a year and a half, always coming home limping for the next week, never complaining but never really improving, either. What? Take lessons at home? Pssht. We leapt right in and decided to buy one of the animated and intelligent horses we’d been riding, opening our hearts and our world to Lena Rey Flo. Steve says it was her energy and wanting to build on our family but I think it was those long eyelashes and big curly ears. 

Lena was a sensitive and responsive horse--gentle with beginners but a taskmaster with you if she thought you knew better. She taught us all a lot and she loved being an only horse. Really. Three humans to worship me? Most excellent, said the princess. We were enough different to keep her entertained and she got more than enough exercise and attention. Trail rides were an exercise in sharing. When it was just two of us, one would ride out and one would ride back. When Katie was with us, it was mostly walking for Steve and me but it was always a good adventure even from the ground. 

Then I fell in love with Calabar and we had a different horse-to-human ratio--we had an ex-racehorse, Lena had a boyfriend, a protector and someone to antagonize through the pipe panel. She adored him. He mostly adored her but more importantly he became a part of our family. Sometimes the black sheep but always willing to be the sidekick to Lena’s over-the-top presence. We had a little over 8 years as a two-horse family, years with trail rides and cow adventures and counting out treats and carrots evenly because they were certainly keeping track. 

And then one day it came to an end. 

The reasons don’t really matter. She, in her normal dramatic fashion, injured herself in ways that were ultimately not fixable. We all said goodbye to her on a sunny morning that should have been darker and full of clouds but wasn’t. Lena heard me leading Calabar up the path and whinnied for him before she could even see him, knowing beyond a doubt the rhythm of his footfalls. Calabar nuzzled her, gave her a nip, then stood quietly nearby while we waited for the vet to come. When I tried to put him away, Lena got so frantic, I brought him back. We waited for the first shot to take effect before I walked him away from her the last time. 

And then it was over. A different and altogether worse kind of WHAM. 

Sometimes I think Calabar still looks for her, I know I do. And then I remember. We’re a one horse family again. This is the way it started and there will still be adventures for Calabar, Steve and me. They will just be different adventures than what we had planned. Life is like that, I guess, and there is a lot more living to do. Lena says so from wherever she is. With a big throaty whinny and probably even a squeal of joy on top of that. 

To the spotty horse who became my first muse, I say thanks. You were the best first horse this family could have wished for.
My girls

I am still diving and I still have Calabar. Steve and I moved apart but are still good friends and see each other regularly. I moved in with my boyfriend and his kids and grandchildren last year, got to try lobster diving and certified a lot of divers before, well, you know - COVID. It's a full house but I've had the pleasure of SIP with all of them. Sometimes it's hard, but having the chance to be a part of their lives has been pretty amazing. 

Calabar is 20 this year and as feisty as ever. I'm not riding but that is my New Years Resolution for 2021. He is definitely not ready for retirement. Definitely. Not. 

Re-reading some of my older posts reminds me of the balance (both mental and physical) that connection to this horse gives me. Grounding. Peace. Joy. Required therapy after 2020? I'd say yes.
Full of fire

Happy New Year (almost) to the whole world. May we all find a way through the rest of 2020 and, as I said in many a Christmas card this year, May 2021 NOT suck.

1 comment:

Dom said...

Happy new year, and good to hear from you, even if the news of Lena is sad. sounds like you have a lot of good things going on despite ... everything. Stay safe.