We’re pleased to be bringing you the first entries of our International Equestrian Blogging Contest. Remember, you can still enter as long as all three of your blogs are submitted by September 30. You can find full rules here.

Rest Easy, Tiger – by Alyssa Noonan

It was very difficult for me to write this post, and finding the right words can be very difficult. However, it is important to try. While I was away at Disney World celebrating my successful completion of cancer treatment, my horse Tiger was taken from us too soon.

He suffered an acute colitis attack and had to be euthanized. Tiger was a very special horse. Finding Tiger was one of those rare moments in the horse world that we all dream of. The bond that movies are made of. The first time I went to the race track, I arrived at the barn and saw the refined profile looking out of the shed row. I hoped it was the horse I was coming to see. When I went to approach the stall for the first time he greeted me with a nicker and a nudge against his stall door. It was apparent to all present, this partnership would be special. After the first two minutes together he had chosen me. It was going to be Tiger and I.

From the first few minutes and as we worked together Tiger new when to hold ’em, and when to fold ’em. He knew when he could push, and was quick to recognize if he went too far. Tiger literally carried me through one of the hardest phases of my life. I took ownership of Tiger six weeks after finishing chemotherapy, and at the start of my radiation therapy I took on a straight from the track Thoroughbred to start retraining. The two of us shared a bond though not unique in its depth, unique in how it was a nearly instantaneous bond.

From the first moment I met Tiger he had me giggling at his antics and demanded my attention. He was quite the silly character and was always goofing around. If you met Tiger you knew his signature sideways face. He taught you to look at the world from different angles and to be honest about how you feel. He had a unique approach to life and as goofy as he was on the ground he was all business under saddle. Being the consummate professional whose drive to always work harder (and sometimes faster) kept me inspired to keep coming out even on the bad days.

Tiger had a lot of opinions on a lot of things and we had some pretty funny “discussions” about post racetrack life but his good sense and my quiet stubbornness always prevailed. Tiger was everything I wanted in a horse: beautiful, courageous, athletic and bold, and was overflowing with personality. He was the total package. And although he never fulfilled his performance potential he did more for me then any other horse probably could have. It was an honor to be entrusted with him after his race career.

Although we were destined for many adventures, our time together was cut short. He taught me more lessons in the short time that I knew him than most horses do in a lifetime. The final lesson being, life is short. Enjoy the moments you have and don’t focus to hard on the future. So please let Tiger share this lesson today and go out hug your ponies (or loved ones), forget about your headset or whether you are tracking up (or about mortgage payments and dirty laundry) and enjoy the beautiful day that you and your loved ones have today, together!