My son and Dance - photo by Cheryl

As I drove to the barn the thought occurred to me how luckily I am. Yes! I have a horse, a few in fact. I don’t know if it’s the weather, reflection on the overwhelming losses we as an equestrian nation have suffered this year, the True Prospect barn fire in May through our recent tragedy of Hickstead or menopause the sequel, but I have not been able to stop thinking about some of the horses that have graced my life.

As a kid, a horse was the best thing in the world OMG!!! My cousin, an eventer and trainer, kept his horses at our house and would pony me around. I spent countless hours begging, wishing, praying and dreaming of my own special horse and then just weeks after my 7th birthday I got the biggest surprise of my life, Blew Moose a 17 hh dark bay TB.

I remember the night he came. I got hoisted out of bed in the middle of the night to see what I thought was my dad unloading yet another horse for my cousin, only to be told he was mine. I remember the cold air hitting my PJs as I climbed up on the porch railing to hug him; I remember the tears of joy that would not stop. Even today I can still feel that cold bale of hay I slept on in the barn that night because I was never going to leave him.

In a blink of an eye, 7 turned into 17 and Moose was getting older, having trouble making jumps. I had the choice of my cousin’s cast offs and had been taken to several barns to try other horses but nothing felt right. I had spent every day of the past 10 years with one horse; it was Moose or no one. Moose was and always be my first true love.

The next year changed me, we slowed down, backed down, friends said I used Moose’s age as an excuse to stop competing. I was just happy being with him. I went off to college and law school, and one night, I got the call Moose had passed away. I still can’t breathe when I recall that call. I have always been grateful I had been home the week before, and we had gone for a ride. I just always thought he’d be with me forever. That he would raise my kids, the way he raised me.

Horses went from an obsession to a hobby as I started a career, got married and began a family.

When my son was 8, my husband’s company relocated us to another state. Changing schools was very hard on my son. I had been the administrator of his old school, and my son went from going to school each day with me and having me right down the hall to not. The teacher in the new school was awful and mean.

When I went to pick him up at the end of his first day, the teacher told me in front of my son and the entire class just how disappointed she was in him. She told me my son’s education level was not up to her standards. Within a week, my son went from a bright, happy and healthy kid, to a sad, sick, withdrawn kid. He was unable spell his own name. He developed facial twitches. He was having nightmares. I yanked him out of that school, and began to home school him.

I don’t know why, but something deep inside my heart told me to get my son riding, so I did.

At his first lesson, my son was introduced to Dance. Somehow, some way that horse knew exactly what my son needed. A bond was formed.

A few months later, the family that owned Dance, gave him as a gift to my son. The two were inseparable. We learned the horse had a history. Dance had traveled the world, won saddles, buckles and had t-shirts made for his events. My son and Dance rode the trails, had childhood adventures, won shows and went to JYR several years.

Nearly 10 years later, we laid Dance to rest under his favorite shade tree in a green meadow alongside a stream just short of his 40th birthday. That horse was a savior, best friend, best babysitter and a maker of a fine man.

I will be eternally grateful to that horse.

I know the pain of a losing horse.  I cried a lot this year, but Yes!! I’m luckily to have horses in my life.

Cheryl