Five years ago my world changed dramatically. After living a year in Oklahoma City getting started in my career in equine journalism, I was ready for a change to be a little closer to my family. So I accepted a job in Lexington and moved to another “Horse Capital” and was ready to start my life over.
My plan had been to move one of my horses down to Lexington so I could have him with me (I had spent more than a year without my horses–a year way too long). But, unfortunately, life took a cruel turn and after only two days of me on my new job, I got the call at work from my mom–Nino had colicked. Most of the time, when a horse colics, they survive with simple procedures such as hand-walking and oil, but some times they need to have surgery to straighten out the twisted intestines. After colicking for nearly 24 hours, he was sent to Purdue University for emergency surgery.
Nino didn’t make it through the surgery. It was heartbreaking for my entire family–he was a very special horse. As a team, Nino and I had gone through so much it such a short amount of time. I broke him as a 2-year-old, with help from my sister and a family friend, and we started showing him.
There was a year of struggle, but it was also a year of growth for both he and I. The next year turned out to be the best–we won the 2004 World Championship in Novice Amateur Hunter Under Saddle at the Palomino World Championship Show. I took a chance, could only afford to enter one class, drove the 12 hours to Tulsa, and hoped for the best. It was our shining moment, and one that I still relive.
He was the kind of horse that captured your heart with his soft eyes, big jaw, and just overall gorgeous conformation and color. He had his quirks–he once fell while we were doing showmanship and acted like he broke his leg, only to quickly put it down when my sister came rushing out to check on him (he was known for tripping a lot some times)–but it was those quirks that made you love him.
After his death, it was hard for me to think about my life with horses again. I had to take a more mature look at my life and abilities to be able to support myself and a horse. Even though I live in the “Horse Capital of the World,” it’s rather expensive to keep a horse here. And when you’re used to your horses being in your back yard (minus my time in college when I boarded off and on campus for four years), it’s hard to crunch the numbers and be alright. I had to put aside my childhood dream of being a “young professional” with my horses nearby.
Now, I’m lucky if I can get up to my parents’ farm to see my horses, ride them, brush them, clean the stalls, everything some horsemen might take for granted, once a month. It pains me to think that I may never get to be back in the show ring, let alone never have my horse nearby. There are days I yearn to be able to run my fingers through a horse’s tail…my horse’s tail…just to inhale the smell of horseflesh and alfalfa.
I grew up spending my free time at the barn–my horses kept me busy and kept me sane. Now I spend my free time at the gym and training my dogs. Looking at my life right now, you wouldn’t think that I had any time for horses, but I know in my heart that I would change my life around just to get back that part of my life that I had 10 years ago.
Thanks for making it through this long, drawn out post…I tried to refrain from pouring my heart out too much–just wanted to get something off my chest.