My heart horse is Cowboy, sweet, charming, neurotic Cowboy, my 20 year old Paint. But you may not know this little tidbit--Cowboy was originally my husband's horse. My husband chose him, tried him out, purchased him and brought him home. By the end of the second week he was with us, he was MY horse and he has been ever since. For the life of me, I can't remember how that switch occurred, but it did, and swiftly.
Somewhat recently, a couple of my good friends lost their heart-horses. And, this week, each of them found a new partner. Their searches were not easy. Saying goodbye to their old friends, and choosing a new one to start a journey with, was not easy.
People outside of the horse world probably don't understand the depth of a horse-human relationship. For one, it takes deep bonding, the kind of bonding that makes you want to run out to the barn every day and work through ground manners, communication, saddling, bridling, care-taking, and even risk-taking. (Not to mention the amount of money you spend on purchasing, boarding, training and vet care.)
But all that is the easy part. The rest is year after year of learning each other's ways and falling in love through trail rides in winter, spring, summer and fall. A horse can live over 30 years. That's practically half of a human's life-time. That's a lot of life and love between horse and human.
When you lose your heart horse, you lose a major part of yourself because your identity is intertwined with your horse. You've intertwined it, and those around you, who know you, have intertwined it.
My journey with Cowboy has been filled with the things that make a dense and complex relationship--fear of loss of the relationship, exultation at miraculous health outcomes, days where we don't get along, days where we are perfectly in sync. I am intertwined with him.
I got to watch one of my friends with her new horse yesterday--which is why I wanted to write about this today. Seeing it unfold--a new horse, unsure of his surroundings, unsure of the human in front of him, but willing to trust--wanting to trust. And, the human, still intertwined with the one she lost, but willing to trust--wanting to trust. No two horses are alike. What will their story be? I can't wait to see it unfold.
Cowboy was a horse with trust issues. I spent the first months of our relationship building his trust in me and mine in him. Sometimes I did that well, and other times, not so well, but it worked. Something in him pulled me to him and it never subsided.
The beginning of the journey is a fragile time in some ways, but there is so much to be gained...if it works out. The "golden" horses, we call them, because we wouldn't trade them for all the gold in the world.
I'm curious, if you have time, how did you bond with your heart-horses? What was that special thing that sparked your journey together?