Saturday, January 2, 2021


 We all have our great loves.  For those who open your hearts, you will have many loves and those loves may also become great ones.  You are the lucky ones for it took me a long time to believe that love (and good things) were infinite that the bucket it filled was deep and ever flowing - so much that you could have all that you wanted and there was still more to be had, to be shared and to be freely given.

This post has been haunting me for so, so long...  And when I think that this blog's entire existence started with my beloved Sugar and all that went into loving a wild thing and all the living and healing that comes with it, writing this is hard.  Sugar was my great love and I had her for a memorable ten years...  a memorable ten years.

Those memories make me smile even if once when talking to a PTSD therapist, she felt that I was in an an abusive relationship.  Most of my injuries were due to freak circumstances, not her fault, I should be a better rider, etc.  I think she saw a patttern.

Sugar, god rest her soul, is still with me.  I'm not talking about her spirit or a ghost but that accumulation of energy around the spooks, spins and injuries.  It is not her fault nor do I ever want to say that I didn't love owning her and that I still miss her but I carry the scars of those things that no longer exist.

Happy Young Professional
Shanti is not Sugar. And as I write that, I wonder if I'm being disloyal to Sugar.  It is all so confusing.  Shanti is not Sugar.  And I can still love Sugar and honor that she was a challenging ride, right?

The haunting is in my own head.  When I head out for a trail ride with a friend, I have to remember, Shanti is not Sugar.  In her most animated, Shanti just gets big - 18H+ and launches into a military march forward.  When she spooks, she moves to the side and then stops to look at what scared her.  I can canter in a field and that is all she does, waiting to see if there is more.

Happy Young Professional 
Hunting Shanti

Shanti is more anxious about poles on the ground than she is of anything on, under or around a jump.  They are just things to get over and wow, getting over them is fun for her.

And yet, I wonder when will I finally let go of my beautiful ghost? When will I get on, do something new or jump a jump without thinking "what will make her spook?"  Will I ever enter the warmup and not look for the thing that will cause an explosion and will I ever enter a ring thinking, how do we make this brilliant vs trying to get through the test quietly?

Sug, I love you and our life together was most spectacular.  I will never ever forget you, for your place is deep in my heart.  What I am going to do is remove your place in my brain... not our memories or adventures but all that stuff that an anxious "master" (old) rider stores up to release at inopportune moments.  

And letting go is not about less but about allowing more, allowing Shanti and I to build memories and have adventures ghost-free.  For all loves never go away but continue to accumulate into ever expanding love...  


Jen said...

I know you don't post much anymore, but I always get excited when I see a post from you, you have such a beautiful way of articulating things. If an internet stranger is allowed to be proud of you, I'm proud of you, that's a difficult but mature and necessary step to take in the lifelong grieving journey. Wishing you many happy ghost-free adventures in 2021.

Melissa-ParadigmFarms said...

I had a horse similar to Sugar. I loved him dearly, and he was one of my most formative horses. That said, I carry a lot of baggage from him still, and he died over 20 years ago. He was a dream horse, sweet and full of personality, absolutely stunning in comformation and looks, always won the hacks, and jumped a 10+ . . . except for all of the times he didn't jump. I showed him a lot, won a lot, and fell off a LOT. He was one of those horses that if you were half an inch off with your distance he would stop dead. The size of the jump didn't matter, whether it was a crossrail or a 3'6" oxer, you had to be dead on with your distance. He was my junior hunter, and I loved him so, so much. But I still have anxiety about having the absolutely perfect distance to a jump. Not every jump every time, but 20+ years later it has never completely gone away. I've mostly learned to stuff it down, but when I come out of the corner and I don't know with confidence exactly where I am within 7 or 8 strides from the jump it still makes me freeze. Sometimes just for half a stride, sometimes all the way to the jump. When setting up your distance, as in everything else in life, perfection is the enemy of good. I should be able to know this at every single jump by now.

All that said, it will fade over time. You will have lots of rides where you never look for the spooky object(s), and then you will have rides where you find yourself doing this again. My eye isn't nearly as sharp as it used to be as I don't have time to lesson and show like I used to, and I'm getting better at just riding the canter and not obsessing over finding the perfect distance. Enjoy Shanti, and continue to love Sugar and all the wonderful moments you had. You are not replacing her or dishonoring her memory, you're simply living life in the present and not the past. Which is sometimes easier said than done!