SAYING GOODBYE AGAIN, AND HELLO

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It’s been over five years now since I said goodbye to my beloved Buddy. Though I think of him daily, I’d only been to visit his grave once since that day. I felt guilt, but never enough to make me drive back out there, and climb the hill again.

Last weekend we were invited by friends to meet them at the barn where their broodmares were foaling, to see their new filly (who I swear to you, if I’d had a carseat, I’d have horsenapped. She is beyond precious!). They had a delay in meeting up with us, which left us near the neighborhood I grew up in, and the barn where Buddy is laid in eternal turn-out. I decided it was a sign to revisit my past.

We started in my old neighborhood, I pointed out where old friends used to live, where horses of my past had once grazed, and the house I grew up in, which only somewhat looked like it used to. We stopped to try to visit one neighbor, but found nobody at home, and continued our tour down my own personal memory lane. I’d had a feeling that I was awfully close to where Buddy was, and what a terrible mother it made me if I didn’t stop, when I got another text saying they were still a ways out from our meeting location, I made the decision to add that barn to our route.

Driving the winding road to get there, the muscles in my arms remembered every turn, like I’d been driving it daily still. My heart fluttered a little when we approached the drive, and more so when we finally parked the car. The weather was overcast but mild, yet surprisingly, there wasn’t another person at the barn during the entire time we were there. Some horses were still turned out, I recognized one that we stopped and petted. I told the boys, it was a serious hike up the hill to Buddy, and they didn’t have to go if they didn’t want to, but I was starting my ascent.

They turned from the attention-seeking horses in the paddock and joined me, wind whipping my hair around my face, to climb. We laughed and joked on the way up, it took a while to make it to the top, and just beyond. We finally made it, eyes watering, lungs burning, and panting.

We’d never given Buddy a formal grave marker. I did pile a few big stones I’d found during my last visit, but that had been years ago too. I remembered the vague area where he was, and narrowed it to a sunken area, about the right shape and size. David put his arm around my shoulder, Michael was uncharacteristically solemn, as I fought back sobs and tried to speak to my boy like I always had

I introduced David and Michael, and told Buddy how I wished they’d all been able to meet, I think they’d have gotten along well, all being kind-hearted and ornery. I told him how I think of him every day, and how much I love him still. I think I mumbled some other motherly things, in between tears and hiccups, and finally, as I had every time I left him when he was still alive, I told him I loved him again, and he was my one and only.

It was hard, that visit rubbed some of the scab off the old wound, a wound that won’t ever truly heal. I was pleased I’d managed to hold it together fairly well, considering we were meeting with friends soon and would be going to dinner after, I certainly couldn’t afford a full-on come-undone. We made our way into the rest of the evening, laughing and having fun. The weight of our visit didn’t hit me until the following morning, where I cried in the shower until the water ran cold.

Buddy to date, has been the closest soul I’ve lost, and by far the most devastating in my life. I’ve grown to stop wondering if I’ll ever “get over it,” and simply accepted that the loss is just a part of me now, like amputees who learn to live in the absence of a limb. It’s bizarre at first, the “ghost” sensations, feeling like they’re still there, but knowing they aren’t. You eventually stop feeling the urge to go to the barn, you train your mind to divert when it slips and recalls the images of the last day you had together. As Tom Hanks says in “Sleepless in Seattle,” the sun still rises and sets every day, you still breathe in and out. Enough time passes you can develop a new normal for yourself, but you never truly recover. You finally reach the point where you turn a corner, but don’t realize it until miles down the road. I guess that’s where I am now.

One of my greatest fears, was the belief that I’d never find my soul’s true match in a human, the way I’d found it in Buddy. Once he was gone, I’d fade into the fog, alone. I guess giving him back to God was the way I was supposed to make room for the new loves headed into my life, a beagle named Sami, and my boys, David and his son, Michael. As hard as it was to say goodbye to him, and my life with him, I did it, and survived.

When we buried Buddy that day, a piece of me went down with the ship, like any good captain. Likewise, a piece of him remained with me, that I’ll carry to my own grave.

This  is one of the last, if not the last photo taken of us together, at an event for kids.  Buddy wasn’t feeling like himself that day, so we had to wrap up earlier than planned, which in hindsight was probably a clue as to where our path was headed, but despite his not being 100%, he still did his best to be a friend to the kids who attended.  He might have tested me sometimes, but I was always proud of my boy.

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SPRING CROPS

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Admittedly, and much to the disappointment of many women, I am not a “baby person.”  Women tend to treat me like I have two heads, when I don’t ooo and ahhh over their baby, or a picture of their baby.  They’re nice, it’s cool, moving on.  On the other hand, show me a baby horse, or any animal really, and I’m reduced to mush.  There’s something so powerful in the feeling of a velvety little nose, I’m reasonably certain it could cure disease, or create world peace.

With the assistance of friends, and a few web searches, I give you a gallery of oooos and ahhhhs, if for no other reason than they’re precious and you’d have to be a horrible person to not fall in love with every one of them.  Yes, I’m biased, for good reason!

From the farm of Valerie Morgan, meet Stewie (Rightous Invitation x Ms Goodtime Vanna)

stewie

Olaf (Red White n Good x Lil Bit Rocked)

olaf

From Greenbrier Farm, owned by Todd & Laura Salome, Joey (Repeated in Red x Zips Earth Angel)

joey

Hoos Your Momma (name pending, but isn’t it great?) (Hot Ones Only x Gypsy Trader)

hoos

The newest member of their outfit, Kitty, with mama, Emma…

kitty 1 kitty 2

It’s easy to forget, horses like ones I’ve interviewed started out much smaller than we see them now, like this little guy.  Born at the Piber Stud, his dark coat will eventually grey to white, and he’ll be a star performer at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria like the big boy Lipizzaner stallions…

lipizzaner

http://www.piber.com/en/

Or this young fritter, safe with Mama for now at Warm Springs Ranch, just a shadow of the giant he’ll grow to be, pulling the iconic red wagon of Anheiser-Busch with seven of his soon-to-be good friends…

clyde baby

http://www.warmspringsranch.com/warmspringsranch/#/home

Another great source of photo galleries is always the Equine Chronicle, http://www.equinechronicle.com/2015-ec-foal-photo-gallery/

 

I’d love to see and share any more, feel free to send them for the gallery!

BEST OF

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At the office, we’ve been encourage to vote on a “best of” list, hosted by a local magazine where our business is included in one of the categories.  While I placed my votes, it got me thinking…  central Ohio has some pretty great, horse-specific things that deserve recognition.  Here are my personal votes:

 

Best Equine Hospital-The Galbreath Equine Center at the Ohio State University.  Considered one of the finest equine hospitals in the world, Ohio State’s Galbreath Equine Center offers state-of-the-art, comprehensive diagnosis and care of all horse breeds and disciplines.Considered one of the finest equine hospitals in the world, Ohio State’s Galbreath Equine Center offers state-of-the-art, comprehensive diagnosis and care of all horse breeds and disciplines.

http://vet.osu.edu/vmc/galbreath-equine-center

 

Best Fairy Tale Moment-All Occasions Carriage & Pony rides, owned and operated by Patti Smith.  She has a variety of horse-drawn vehicles to suit every need, but by far the most popular, is her “Cinderella” carriage.

patti 1 patti 2 patti 3

https://www.facebook.com/pages/All-Occasions-Carriage-Pony-Rides-LLC-Petting-Zoo/253919911362828?sk=timeline

 

Best All-Around Horsey Shopping & Shows-The Equine Affaire, held at the Ohio Expo Center every April.  This event caters to all levels, breeds, and disciplines with clinics, demonstrations, and a huge trade show to stock up on all your favorite supplies.  The can’t-miss attraction every year is “Fantasia” which is a horse and handler performance, set to music.  Words can’t describe, it’s incredible!

ohio-equine-affaire-2013_19

http://www.equineaffaire.com/ohio/

 

Best Family-Owned Tack Shop-Keith Saddle Shop in Pataskala.  The Keith family has passed the store on through it’s generations, but it’s always the best place to find all the latest and greatest.  They’re open seven days a week, and their staff is the best around (I may be just slightly biased, after having worked there myself!).

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Keith-Saddle-Shop/168404093170455

 

Best Single Breed Showcase and Sale-The All American Quarter Horse Congress, hands down, is the best ever.  Even if you’re not a Quarter Horse person, there’s plenty to love.  Shopping, dining, classes to watch, horses to be bought at the Super Sale, and nightlife, all in one place!  The Ohio Expo Center is home to this show every October.

http://oqha.com/aaqhc

 

Best Youth Showcase-The All American Youth Horse Show.  Open to all breeds and disciplines, for anyone 18 and under, held ever May at the Ohio Expo Center.  As a youth, this was my favorite time of year, and even after to go back and watch my friends.  This show gets better every year!

youth show

http://www.aayhshow.com/

 

Best Night Out (that doesn’t have to involve getting your boots dirty!)-The Scioto Downs Racino.  Featuring live harness racing May-September, dining options, entertainment, and a casino, you won’t be bored here!

http://www.sciotodowns.com/

 

Best Therapeutic Riding Facility-The Shane Center in Centerburg.  For over 25 years, this facility has given confidence and strength back to children and young adults with disabilities, and they’re now adding programs catering to our veterans.  Horses can heal, and this is the place to see it in action!

http://www.shanecenter.org/

 

For the 614 Columbus “Columbest List” you can submit a write-in vote for me, under People & Community for Best Local Blogger (pretty please and thank you so much!) at http://columbest.614columbus.com/start.

 

Did I miss anything?  Feel free to share your personal “bests” by commenting!