Austen has left us, he is why I almost gave up the blog. The anger I felt at his coming to me led to a post I am still quite embarrassed over. It contained more anger and judgement then I knew I had and I didn't like it. I didn't even like it after I posted an apology, I seriously considered giving up writing about the horses after that.
He's gone now. He left us on December 2nd. He had ringbone and severe arthritis. Both had fractured off. I honestly didn't know that arthritic build up could fracture off, I didn't know ringbone could do the same. I fight, daily, the idea that he was in more pain than I knew, that he suffered longer than I knew. I console myself with the knowledge that I allowed his pain to end the moment I saw it clearly. It still hurts, I still miss him, I still stare at the braided tail that I have saved and placed next to Patch's. It doesn't get easier, you just learn how to better cope.
You pick up the manure fork and you clean the other stalls. You pull out the brushes and you take your time brushing Lou's tail. You remember how much Brody loves Cheerios and you bring them up to the barn. You move on. You remember why you do it and you do it again. Not to replace them, never to replace them, rather to honor them by letting another into your heart.
Enter Sassy, a beautiful mare that presented herself to me through the wonders of rescue networking. I remember seeing the post go up, the plea for a home for this lovely mare who was soon to be without a home.
I remember sitting right where I am tonight, with Jack's head on my lap and Leo in the bed, no sound but the fingers typing a message I didn't want to send about a horse I didn't want to care about. Sixteen days after Austen let us. It was too soon for me to reply to the post publicly so I sent a message instead. I was as afraid as I was guilty, for caring about this mare who had the softest of eyes and nowhere to go.
I sent the message. Agreed to meet her, knew I was had, and I was right.
I went to meet her. I didn't spend much time with her, I didn't ride her. I watched her with a young woman who loved her dearly. I saw the kindness in her eye. I saw the love she had grown to know at the hands of the young woman who could not keep her and all I wanted was to keep her safe, see her happy, watch her run. I didn't even care if I ever rode her and that's when I knew I was had. That's when I knew it was right.
She's been home a week today. She could spend the rest of her days as Brody and Lou do, prancing about the pasture, eating away all my money, sampling Cheerios and Granola Bars, kicking over water buckets, and playing I'm in charge of the barn; I'd be happy with that.
She is different though, from the boys. Her and I could, and will, have fun in and out of the saddle. I look forward to "not being done" with her; I am pretty sure she'd say the same.