Falling in love with a sales horse is like falling in love with a prom dress you rented for the evening. It looks beautiful, fits in a way that makes you think the dress was made for you, and you wish you could keep it. Unfortunately, you can’t. You have to return the dress after the evening, with only pictures and stories and memories to sate your desire to have it.

Maybe talking about prom dresses sounds superficial, but loving a sales horse is loving another being who you know can’t stay. You’ll have pictures and stories and memories to commemorate your time together, but you can’t keep the horse. It’s a truth that’s difficult to acknowledge before “the time comes”, too.

Loving a sales horse means giving a piece of your heart away. Let me explain – loving any animal or being means giving a piece of your heart away. I fell in love with who would have been the perfect partner for me. He was trustworthy, talented, friendly but spunky, and a joy to ride. But he wasn’t mine.

Loving him meant offering a piece of my heart away, with no hope of seeing it again. I don’t see a point in trying to bottle affection for a horse, because we’re all better for loving more. Even though I told myself not to get attached, I did. Watching him climb onto the trailer and head to his knew home was difficult, but I felt like I’d made significant contributions to his training. And knowing I made a difference in him as well as his training was enough to let me wave a fond farewell.

Loving him meant teaching him ground manners for the little girl he would be with soon. It meant helping him be better, for someone else. I wanted to feed him treats, let him nibble my hand or tug on my sweater. Those habits, though, weren’t suitable for his next “life”. Working with the sales horse meant being more aware, thoughtful, and careful in my training and treatment of him.

While it would be a dream to know things are permanent, nothing is. I knew my sales horse would leave,  and I would stay. Whether we’d like them to be or not, most things aren’t permanent which leaves us with an incredible opportunity to celebrate what we have, while we have it. The whole, “celebrate ’cause life is short but sweet for certain,” definitely applies here.

It’s OK to love and move on. We are all always better for loving, which is to say you don’t need to stop loving the sales horse even though you know they’ll move on. There’s a phrase about setting the things (or those) who you love free, right? The latter part of the phrase doesn’t really apply here, but hey if you end up buying said sales horse they will come back to you. I so desperately wanted this horse to be mine yet I was without the financial backing I needed to have him.

Loving a sales horse means learning how to let go. I’m horrible at it. I want to hold the things I love close and never, ever let go. When things feel good, you’ve gained an incredible partnership, or you just get along splendidly with the horse, it’s hard to let go. Okay… it’s hard to let go of anything unless you’re a very gracious person and I don’t think I’m there yet. Loving a sales horse means learning how to let go, and I needed a reminder of how to do so graciously when I needed to.

Experiencing the cycle of newness, familiarity, love, and loss isn’t strange to us. Horses have an accelerated life cycle we’re lucky to be a part of, but sometimes it’s difficult to keep up. Being a part of my sale horse’s life allowed me to contribute something to him that would make his life better. That would make me better.

Loving a sales horse means offering a piece of your heart away without a chance of getting it back (you know, unless you snag that guy up). But there’s no reason not to love, especially when we’re better for it.