Dreams and disappointments

When you have horses you have dreams for them. Those dreams can be a sort of mental wish list of what you want to do or achieve with your horse in a year from now or five years from now. My ultimate dream with Cassie is to one day ride to Santiago de Compostela. I don’t have a time schedule or any concrete plans, but that is my dream. And Cassie is only 6, so we have years and years. Dreams don’t have to be big, they can be very modest. Or they can be just a single image. When I think of Minnie, I see the two of us galloping with wild abandon, mane and hair flying, revelling in the glorious speed and the sheer freedom of it. The gallop is where Minnie and I belong together, a place where we are joined.

On the other side of the dreams lies the cold reality of disasters and disappointments, which is also part of having horses.

The first hints of spring always set Minnie’s blood on fire. She wants to run and that it what she does. Horses make no excuses or allowances. They give it all, 100%. The past two weeks Minnie and Cassie have been galloping around, racing each other and ploughing up our land. Then the other day I called them for their evening feed, and while Cassie came trotting, Minnie was slowly shuffling her way towards me, head nodding deeply with every step. My heart sank.

I checked her legs and although there is no heat or swelling, she is undeniably lame. My guess is that she ripped scar tissue in either her tendon or suspensory ligament. It is very disappointing.

It is of course possible to keep a horse sound by keeping them stabled and controlling their every move, but I can’t do it. For horses, life is movement. They eat on the move, they communicate with their moving bodies and they need to be able to move to feel safe. I don’t want to take that away, but I have also always wondered how sound a horse actually is if they can’t be allowed to move at will for fear that their legs aren’t up to it. And if the horse’s legs can’t cope with the strain of natural movement, surely that horse isn’t sound enough to be ridden?

 I have to face up to the fact that Minnie’s riding days are over. We won’t be galloping together again and it makes me feel sad that I won’t experience that sense of oneness with her anymore. But as I was sitting in the yard, watching her munch hay, I remembered a dream I had about her a couple of months ago. In the dream, I was walking through sand dunes to a beach.  It was a grey and windy day. I heard  soft foot steps behind me and as I turned to look around, I saw it was Minnie. She caught up and then walked beside me..

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10 thoughts on “Dreams and disappointments

  1. Oh… I read this in silence and then I felt it in silence.
    My life has been tossing me around of late and I have lost the time to read all that I want to read. But I am back. I will not miss another post of yours again.

    I profoundly agree with you. We cannot keep horses in boxes to prevent them from hurting themselves because of what they are, what nature compels them to be. Else, what are they? Not the creatures we loved and needed in our lives so deeply.

  2. This post brought a lump to my throat. I agree with you (and Muddy K) that you can’t keep a horse in a box. They need to have some freedom. Your partnership with Minnie will change into something just as fulfilling as the one where you galloped together. How fortunate you are to have those memories and how fortunate Minnie is to have you to look out for her well-being.

  3. You’ve had such a dreadful run of luck – poor you and poor Minnie. So frustrating that you can do your very best for horses and never know when some fluke of fate makes a mockery of your dreams, but I hope you keep hanging on to yours. I’d love to do Compostela – it’s a lot closer for me but I think I’ve left it far too late!

  4. Oh Minnie 😦

    I agree, stalls are soul crushers. I’ve never been in a barn and felt the horses exude the same peace and satisfaction of those living outside in a herd (so long as they are well fed). For me barns all have an undercurrent of longing, dejection, and anger.

  5. Sandra –

    When one door closes, another opens. You and your beautiful girl will be happy together in a new way!

    Christine

  6. I agree that horses need to be outside as much as possible, it’s the natural way of things. I’m sorry Minnie is lame but that will heal eventually. I have a feeling that even though one dream ends another begins.

    Love your dream about you and Minnie on the beach, she’s going to be with you always, be it in your dreams or standing beside you.

  7. Thank you everyone for your kind comments. It is hard for me to accept that Minnie is not sound enough to be a riding horse, because for me she was my perfect riding horse, but there is a sense of relief too, because now I can stop agonising over wether she will be sound again or not. And of course Minnie will be with me always, and once her soundness improves we will go for walks and I plan to continue clicker training with her because she loves it.

  8. I can’t believe how much our situations parallel. It was so hard for me to come to the same realization, but I did. And now I wonder, just like you, what is a quality life for my dear heart-horse. I have this plan to lock him up during the day and let him out at night, but if that doesn’t work and he becomes dangerous to himself and others….where is the line? I, too, have a sense of relief knowing he won’t be my horse to ride the trails with anymore. When this happened last summer I did not have peace and didn’t move on–it just wouldn’t sink in. So, I read this blog post and it was like reading my own thoughts. And your dream is very powerful. I feel like Cowboy is in me, too.

    • It is the hardest thing when you have to accept that your beloved horse is not up to carrying you anymore. I know that this is where we are, but I haven’t really come to terms with it yet. It takes time. For the past two years I kept hoping all the time that she would be allright and things would be the same as before, but I think deep down I probably knew that it was not to be. Minnie is hard on herself because she won’t take it easy, she has an incredible need to move all the time, but she doesn’t agonise about it. On good days, she’ll run and jump and dance around and if she’s lame the next day, she’ll take that in her stride too. The mental torment is all mine; there is a lot to be said for living in the present!

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