i can now say that i remember both the first and last times that i saw you. on that first day you were still someone else’s horse and you were giving her a heck of time getting around a novice course at stoneleigh burnham. knowing you as through and through and through as i think i do, i feel certain that you had good reason for that choice. the choice not to jump over and over again. and also i am so glad that you stopped on that beautiful sunny day because it was that stop that led your then owner to tell your then trainer, “that is it we are selling him.”
and also, in a stroke of luck, our good friend knew your then owner and told us you were coming up for sale so we called right away to come see you. that second time i saw you was when we drove out to the barn to try you. that day you stopped at every fence i pointed you at and really i was looking for a horse that could teach me how to event but it hardly mattered. it felt right to sit on your back. when my mom and i were in the car driving home that day i kept saying, “i think that was him. i think that was my horse.” i had one of those smiles you are trying not to smile but you can’t stop it.
growing up i was a little girl who adored horses and begged my parents to let me learn how to ride. eventually they gave in and i went to a local barn and rode school horses as many days a week as i could. i rode and rode and rode. i also would happily spend time grooming and cleaning tack. and dreaming, dreaming of having my own horse.
i must have been eight or ten then, eventually twelve and on and on. my mom learned to ride and we did get a horse but it was really her horse. this is a distinction that may be hard to understand if you have never had a horse but you will have to trust me. but lucky, of course, you understand. the years passed and my time spent riding waxed and waned but that seed of longing for my own horse never went away. eventually, twenty one years old and about to graduate from college my time had come and my parents decided to buy me a horse.
a person who gets to have their very own horse is blessed. and today, as i was saying good bye to you for the last time i kept telling you how you were the horse. The Horse. if a girl was to only have one horse ever in their life, which i believe is how my life will play out, you were absolutely the one to have. you being you. the ultimate teacher. kind and safe. brave enough to do what i wanted to do. patient enough to allow me some mistakes and bossy enough to make sure i shaped up. you taught me what a gallop is and also showed me self carriage, a frame, soft connection. you lectured me on the perfection of using a circle to create circular energy. you showed me the pure fun of exploring the woods at a canter. you encouraged me to perfect the art of graciously accepting your interpretation of my requests represented to me as your own idea – a skill that has come in useful in so many relationships in my life. you demanded focus, concentration, dedication. you once (early on) kicked the stall wall when i answered my cell phone while grooming you. when i was with you i was to be with you. no multitasking allowed. you did teach me how to ride and i doubt i will ever know how to ride another horse like i knew how to ride you. i believe you also taught me about love, about companionship, and about the epic submission of horse to human. the beautiful, amazing, and undeserved dedication your kind has had to my kind. you allowed me on your back probably thousands of times in all the years we were together. you kept me safe in all those thousands of situations and you worked with me. you showed me. you were a blessing.
a few weeks ago i rode you for the last time. i had no idea it was the last time i would be riding you. after the ride i felt so emotional and i took a moment to thank you for being in my life. later i wrote about you and all that day i was wondering, what is going on? why do i feel like i am reflecting back on lucky’s life? why do i feel like lucky is going to die? i insisted to myself that i stop the melodrama. i insisted to myself that you were really not that old, you were healthy and doing well and we probably had a few years together yet.
now you have crossed over.
when i think about everything you gave to me i have no idea how to express it to you. you somehow managed to make me feel loved. you gave me self confidence. you made me feel like i was right in every way – at least for you. around you, riding you, working with you i never felt flawed or misunderstood or lesser than. all those inner demons i have battled in my life – and still sometimes do battle – were somehow quieter in my relationship with you. maybe that is the true gift. the feeling of fitting so well. that is what it means that you were my horse. that i was your person. it was the true fit.
we walked you up the back hill today for the last time. it was a slow walk, with your leg so sore and our intention to let you enjoy grazing as we made our way up the small rise. then the vet came up with the medicine needed to help you cross over to the spirit world. i held onto your lead line while she injected you. i watched your body fall to ground in the way that horses bodies do in these situations. i was crying quietly and thinking good bye good bye thank you. then something changed in the air around me and i just knew it was your spirit leaving your body. but instead of simply dispersing like i have sensed when present with dying animals before i felt like you wrapped yourself around my heart. your concentrated spirit just filling up my entire chest and blanketing my breaking heart for a bit. in those minutes when i felt you there holding my heart i stopped crying. i felt warm and peaceful. i felt deeply perfectly loved.
then you were gone. my heart took up its aching again. i know, lucky, that you are at peace. i know your spirit has crossed and you are free from your body. you are now just white light and divine loving energy and all knowing source bits. all this crying i am doing is not for you. it is for me. me sad. me missing you. me feeling overwhelmed by how wonderful you were here. me feeling so blessed to have known you. me feeling grateful to have had you as my once in a lifetime horse. me feeling lucky.
dear lucky, you know i remember more than just the first and last day. i remember all of our twelve years together. i hold it in my heart and in the ways you have shaped me forever. i love you. i thank you.
rest in peace.