I always thought that saying was silly. I have a hard time letting anything go - a grudge, a cold, money - nevermind something that I love and value. This is why I was so surprised when I walked into the barn last night and right by Ari's empty stall and didn't feel a twinge of sadness. Not any. Not at all.
My personal situation is on the cusp of change at the moment and it is no longer (well, was it ever, really?) reasonable for me to keep three horses that I don't have time for. I had already made a decision to place Rex, my gelding, with a trusted friend of mine, bring Bronwyn with me wherever I go, and let Ari stay on the farm with my family, where I thought she belonged. On a whim, never thinking in a million years that I would find something that would feel "right", I posted Ari for up for a lifetime lease on my Facebook and on the forum. I mean, she is an "aged" mare when it comes to stock horses (she's just turned 8) and she has had maybe a dozen rides on her over those years. She is definitely not a beginner project for anybody, but doesn't have a speck of dirt to be found in her. A few people did inquire about her, but I still didn't have the "this feels right" feeling about any of it... afterall, this is the baby of my baby - she is out of my dearly missed heart horse and sired by my mother's dearly missed heart horse. She was born here and I've watched her grow, seen her in my pasture every day, cried many a tear into her mane.
My friend Maria said "have you talked to Meg? She sounds perfect for Meg!"
When Meg contacted me and began to tell me her story, I started to get that "this is right" feeling. She fit many of my "requirements" - a lifetime of experience with horses, a great support structure, a good understanding of common sense, and most important of all - a true love and care for equine-kind, regardless of their usefulness to her. We sent long emails back and forth for quite a while, detailing everything that I knew about Ari and exactly what Meg was looking for. Without going into too many details - Meg was thrown and nearly paralyzed by her standardbred whose list of past owners reads like a "should be banned from owning animals" list. In short, she needed a confidence builder that reminded her how to have fun on the back of a horse and not to be afraid.
The trip to haul her was longer than I anticipated and with more stresses than I had planned on (as if leaving my little girl behind wasn't stressful enough!), but in the end, I am glad we chose to haul her ourselves. Not just because this gave me an opportunity to put a face to words in emails, to see the facility. In retrospect, some of the best parts of the trip were seeing the little girls at the barn so excited to see the pretty new horse, staying up way too late eating cookies and talking horse with Meg and Maria, and seeing someone else - someone who is clearly capable and willing - spending more saddle time on Ari than I had in the last year. Those were the things that cemented, for me, that this was the right decision - even more so than seeing the facility, signing the contract, meeting the barn owner.
When Meg sat on her, they were perfectly sized for one another. She moves like a horse that wants to play with western pleasure but could be athletic enough to cut or rein - and that's right up Meg's alley.
I won't lie and say I didn't shed a tear or two, because I did. I was fortunate to have my dad with me - at one point, he consoled me by saying "She's going to look after her." and I said "I know, and that might be the part that bothers me the most." - the fact that I didn't have the time to appreciate her as much as Meg clearly was going to.
She has been gone almost a week. I have gotten glowing reports from Meg. She loves her. I imagined that it would be much, much harder to let something that I loved so much go. It was a lot easier to leave her with someone who clearly loves her as much as I do. Someone who appreciates her for the quiet little mare that she is. And most of all, it has been easier since I put it into perspective: Once upon a time, someone provided me with an opportunity with a horse that I really needed... I didn't know how much I needed her at that time, and it took me a long time to figure it out. I was reminded the last night when I sat on her in our muddy yard, in the pitch dark, in 2C weather that Bronwyn is the horse that I need. Rex and Ari are the horses that I love and care for, but Bronwyn is that horse that I need. I am paying it forward.
The photos in this post are courtesy of the marvellously talented Maria Casey, who was there, snapping away and being supportive the whole time! :)