On December 22nd, 2005 my sister called from England to say that her beloved horse, Spirit, had had to be destroyed because he had a broken leg. She was stricken and desperate and I wanted so badly to go to her and share her grief.
We had ached through the preceding few years with parental demises which were more of a relief after long drawn out battles with Alzheimers and Parkinsons. Fiona had really stepped up and more than paid her dues, at the same time being a full-time mother to a very active little boy. Life had thrown a few more meannesses at her, mundane but hurtful, wearying wounds.
Spirit was not only a horse worth loving, he represented an escape, a respite. He was the only uncomplicated, unconditional love in a complicated World. Fiona was shaken to the core. She had shared with me a notion that every life has its quota of bad things. She thought she was done with her quota for 2005.
I listened and cried with her on the phone, from the wrong side of the Atlantic Ocean, and felt helpless in the face of her pain. Later, I searched for other people's thoughts and quotes in the hope that something would help.
I found so much beauty and passion; quiet understanding and quirky insights. Human to horse and horse to human; a wealth of Spirit.
I also found a complete stranger in my sister's home town, who accepted my crazy phone call in a local business office just before they closed for the holidays. I can't remember if I spoke to a man or a woman but I know it was a good person. I needed to send comfort to my sister, who had no computer or fax and mail would have been too slow due to Christmas closings etc. That person understood; had a family member who loved horses; he/she waited for my hand written pages to fax through from another continent and took the trouble to deliver them to my sister.
The following extracts are from a collection which began that day.
"And God took a handfull of Southerly wind, blew his breath over it & created Horse"
-Give a horse what he needs and he will give you his heart in return.
-Horses give us the wings we lack.
"No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle"
"In riding a horse we borrow freedom"
"A horse doesn't care how much you know until he knows how much you care"
-Stephanie M. Thomas-
"Nothing is more sacred than the bond between a horse and a rider. No other creature can ever become as emotionally close to a human as a horse. When a horse dies, the memory lives on, because an enormous part of his owner's heart, soul and very existence dies also"
-A pony is a childhood dream. A horse is an adulthood treasure.
Some of my best leading men were dogs & horses.
Somewhere...Somewhere in time's own space
There must be some sweet pastured place
Where creeks sing on and tall trees grow
Some Paradise where horses go,
For by the love that guides my pen
I know great horses live again.
-Soon I shall go to sleep, in hopes of seeing him again. His intelligent eye, his elegant head. His soft heart.
Spirit is buried in a horse cemetery in the English countryside. A simple field filled now with apple trees of varying ages as one is planted over each equine resting place. There are many simple bronze plaques set into the grass. Some with just a name, some with words to thank a good horse for simply being himself.