And then today... 20! I dunno' why I made 20 such a milestone, and I'm sure I'll now set a new one [probably 50] cause I'm just Type A like that. But to #20, and the other 19 of you.... Thank you!
And I so hope you enjoy each aspect of So Long Farm!
To celebrate, here's the blog namesake:
He was 20 here. What a horse!
I went to visit him on Christmas eve. This horse was my world from age 24 until.... I guess when I was about 39 just after I had my son.
Here we are in a lesson just after I had my son, 7 years ago
Here he is on Christmas eve, this year
I got him when he was 6, and I was 24. If you figure horse years at 4 for each year, we were the same age when we met. I love this horse in a way I just can not describe.
this was his 23rd birthday, early on in his 'illness'. I would drive an hour every night to monitor his decline and take him for walks and to graze thinking being outside and eating grass might jump start him, and get him over this 'failure to thrive' thing we were dealing with. It helped, but was not really 'the' answer.
Here he is just before his 23rd birthday, probably one of the last times I worked/rode him, this was while we were trying to figure out what was wrong with him and I was trying to stimulate appetite in him and thought MAYBE work was part of the way to do that. It wasn't
Again, at 20.
To many the connection I have with this animal and the desire to ride is a childish infatuation I should have shed at 13... to others it's an example of me wanting to be hoity-toity. One family member likes to tell me only Vanderbilts and Kennedys ride. Oddly, in over 30 years now in horses I have yet to meet one Vanderbilt, or Kennedy. I wish, wish, wish it was that simple. I wish it was a choice. I have talked horses ever since I was 2. I have wanted a horse FOREVER. And this horse,... well he was perfect, a gift, ... he taught me so, so, SO much about horses, riding, and most importantly life.
This was about 2 years ago, so he's 24 here, just after he retired and we got him healthy again [but ugh, look at those hind fetlocks!]
His aging has been really, really hard on me. When I stopped riding him and retired him, well that was hard enough. That is a partnership I don't think I will ever experience again. When you can sit on an animal like that and turn him with just a shift of your seat bones, get him to walk from a trot, or halt from a walk with just your seat... well, nothing comes close to it. When you have felt him dance to a Rod Stewart song ['Young Hearts' apparently is one of his favorite songs]...
But those changes in him, and in our relationship have morphed in the last 2 years to my not even wanting to visit him. When I saw him on Christmas eve it had been a couple months since I had visited him, Big Mistake! I have ALWAYS seen him on Christmas, ALWAYS- well this year I just sobbed.
In my head he's perpetually 8, or 10 or 12... and when I see him and reality smacks me in the face and he looks 26 [though truly, he looks FABULOUS for his age], it just hurts. The loss starts all over again.
I dunno' if, to those of you who've never had a horse, it makes any sense... I just can not find a way to put it that really encompasses it all. In many ways it indeed parallels the slow, long goodbye of a parent with dementia who is so different to you before you actually lose them that the grief just seems endless and you wish it would end, and then hate yourself for thinking that way and dread it ending all in the same instant.
Really though, the mistake is in not seeing him often enough. In 2011 I really need to make an effort to go visit once a week, or every couple of weeks... to enjoy him, give him treats, and savor this time, otherwise I will be sorry when he's gone and I've squandered this time.
I hope you'll push me to do that, remind me that I need to do it, will you?
Here's Grandma Ceciles diary entry for today, in 1937
Friday January 8
Buzzed wood, Momma, Dad and Robert here to dinner. It was warm as spring out. I took the kids, Joyce's foot is some better.
Baker's came down, we all went over home and played cards.
I was so excited when, after my husband noted a football player with the same last name in the paper, I searched Facebook and found a page for my family, filled with members who I never knew existed until yesterday. I don't know what this desire to have more family is... as I've gotten older, had my son, got married and not found a connection to husbands family I had hoped for, taken care of my biological dad whom I never really thought of as 'dad'. and looked back at my life I realize how fractured my 'family' has been. I spent very little time visiting my dad and his family after a time... and my step-dads family simply disappeared, as if they were never really my family, when my mom divorced my step-dad. I do not remember, at the time, being too troubled by it, but in retrospect it's so very sad. To spend every holiday with a family; cousins, aunts, uncles and extended family that I really cared for, and then one day never see them again... that is so sad. It is certainly not their fault, since the circumstances were what they were, but still... did I stop being their niece/granddaughter/cousin? In my mind, they never stopped being my aunt/uncle/cousin.
So here's a whole new 'family', my family. Blood family, though some 'seconds' and 'thirds'.
And here's to animal family, chosen family- horses and dogs and cats who love you just the way you are.
That they may be 'removed' or not human... why does that matter so much?