It seems that since we drove to get our new puppy, my life has been a blur. First, it was the puppy--just getting her settled. Then, it was back to back family vacations and family coming to stay. I fit in a couple of rides through it all, and that one lesson with Tumbleweed, but I really had to set all that aside.
But now, we're home, and we don't have another trip planned until October, when I will finally return to the place I have sworn to return to since I was 16. I'm 52 now, so that's a lot of years wanting something and not doing it. Every January 1st, I'm reminded when we pull out little slips of paper from our family box of resolutions and someone reads:
Return to Maine.
And, I have to admit that, no, I did not do it. Yet again, I DID NOT return to Maine.
You'd think it was the moon or Mars, rather than a state within our own country.
We have our plane tickets and all of our reservations made. It appears, if all goes well, I will finally touch ground in the place I loved so dearly.
For horses this year, there is a definite theme, and it is Cowboy, my heart horse. I feel like he's at the end of his life in many ways, and my time is running out. Even today, I saw him from the window holding his previously broken front foot out, and I ran to put him up and give him another dose of Cosequin. The more he moves, the better he does, but I'm losing ground.
I had shoes put on him this spring, and I'm taking him out on every ride. If it gets too steep, or a log too high, I hop off and walk him. We're both fighting for his life at this point, thirteen years post fracture and displacement into the coffin joint. But the arthritis around the area where the bone enters the joint, it gets worse and worse so that every year is a blessing. I've known, and lived with that knowledge, for a long time.
It's all about quality of life now. I want him to enjoy himself--my older equine partner--and to trust me. As I said above, I don't hesitate to hop off his back and let him navigate down a hill or over a log without having to carry my weight, too. I explain this to my friends when they see me swinging to the ground. I don't care if I have to walk the whole way, but he does need to keep moving.
I value every second we're together. I tell him that, too, and give him lots of huge hugs. Hey Cowboy, we're together today! hug hug hug. I can't stop hugging him. I know there will be a time, soon, when I can't.
Ride after ride.
I feel bad that I'm not riding Leah, but given what I feel in my heart--what I see happening with Cowboy--I don't even feel like there's a choice. It's all about riding him NOW. Enjoying every minute NOW.
I don't want to have any regrets when the time comes. I want to know in my heart that I spent as much time as I could with the horse who has been my companion and comfort and strength and healing. I absolutely cannot stand the thought of losing him.
Yet, in the wings, there is Tumbleweed--brought here to take over what will be a huge, gaping hole in my life. (Not to put any pressure on him or anything.)
Here he is heading back out to pasture yesterday, before my ride. He had come to the gate and whinnied at Cowboy, loaded in the trailer. (They're big buddies nowadays) I jumped out of the truck to snap a photo as he was heading back out.
I love that Cowboy is able to overlap and be a part of his life, and that I will always know Cowboy is in him. Not biologically, of course, but in the environmental effects--the nurturing part.
Tumbleweed is growing fast. He is very smart, and he is very well loved by the entire herd.
Like everything, I enjoy each and every day, and I take them one at a time.