It’s been a weird week.

I opened my mailbox on Saturday to find a photo of my hanoverian mare Belinda sitting there alone, her face on glossy paper staring back at me. It brought on a terrible sinking feeling. The image was merely a postcard from my vet reminding me that if she was still alive, Belinda would be due for her coggins and spring shots this week. I took a deep breathe and put the postcard in my purse, where it still sits now.

Yesterday a notification popped up in my inbox to remind me that there were photos waiting for me to review from the SCF Hunter Trials, the last horse show Belinda and I competed in together at the beginning of March.

I had looked at the photos the week or so after the show and passed on them. The fees were expensive and there weren’t any stellar shots of us. Early spring is the worst season for Belinda – it’s when she’s shedding her usually bleached out winter coat, which is no longer jet black but a dull grey color. She had patches of dark fur in weird places where her spring coat was starting to come through.

For a few days after she died I kept thinking I shouldn’t have brought her to this show. That maybe the fact that she got sick just a couple of weeks later was my fault. She was 19 for Christ’s sake, I shouldn’t have pushed her. But despite her shaggy coat, she looked healthy and fit. She performed better than ever at that show. She was her usual bright and stoic self that day. We had a fun time at the Hunter Trials and I have a few ribbons and a trophy at home to remember it by.

I clicked the link to review the photos again and immediately started to cry when I saw the ones of us. I bought them.

I miss her so much.

Mikey, the OTTB I’ve owned for a month, has been a wonderful distraction. He makes me excited to go to the barn. He wears Belinda’s old halter and fly sheet. He doesn’t know his “stuff” belonged to a horse I loved so dearly before him. But he’s helping me look at these things that have such vivid memories tied to Belinda and not be sad. He doesn’t mind that I compare him to Belinda. I am thankful for that.

What I worry about most is that one day soon I’ll forget what it felt like to ride her. I don’t want to forget about how strong she could be at the canter, that sometimes when she locked onto a jump I felt like we could leap over the moon. I don’t want to forget how wonderful it felt to ride a nice forward trot on her, when she was light in my hands and moving through from her hind end, and how people would stop and stare at her because she was just so athletic and beautiful.

It’s really been a weird week.