We all know the too-familiar story used in crime shows on television. A dynamic duo, perfectly paired in every way. They’re best friends who bicker like an old married couple and complete each other’s lives. That partnership is something most people long for. And it’s something a few equestrians are lucky enough to find with their four-legged half.
I was one of those few. His name was Beau. He was an off-the-track thoroughbred with a heart of gold and the chest of a draft horse. Tall, dark, handsome, loyal, always in tune with my thoughts—he was the best partner a girl could ask for.
We spent hours, days, weeks, months, training together. Athletically, we were on point. Emotionally, we were more in tune than most married couples. In every way, he was my other half. My confidence stemmed from him, and vice versa. There was nothing we couldn’t do when we were together. We literally climbed mountains.
Then, too soon, Beau passed away.
It was sudden. Unexpected. One day he was there, the next I had to make the decision to have him euthanized at the age of seven. That day I lost not only my partner, but a part of myself.
Saying goodbye to a partner is hard. For a while, there’s a hole. It never really gets filled. You keep riding, keep hopping up in that worn-out leather saddle that still smells like him. But it’s never the same. That same passion, love and commitment you shared for one another will never be replaced.
That’s a hard thing to get over. But it’s something every single equestrian will one day have to face. I hope none of you need to face it so soon. I hope your partners grow to be old and gray and pass in the most dignified and peaceful sense. I hope you have time to sit on the ground with them, no matter how hard it may be, hold their head in your lap for the last time and say goodbye.
I hope you get the chance to tell them thank you for the heart they gave you. For the confidence, experience, and love they shared with you every time you stepped into their world. But most of all, I hope you appreciate every single ride.
Go out to your barn and hug your horse.
Let them have that extra snack. Next time they decide they aren’t going to listen, or kick up their heels because they feel fresh, laugh it off. Someday you’ll miss it. You’ll miss the green stains on your white shirt from their grassy kisses. You’re going to miss braiding that mane until your arms ache. You’ll miss hitting the dirt because you couldn’t quite sit their power over that jump. Enjoy every moment of your partnership.
For those who have experienced this and said goodbye, I feel your pain. Don’t be afraid of feeling it, too. Sometimes it’s good to sit down and look at all those old photos and have a good cry over the life you had with your best friend. It’s okay for it to hurt a little bit every time you walk in the barn and they aren’t there waiting for you.
Just remember, they gave the best years of their life to you. They loved you with every ounce of their being. And you returned the favor.
About the Author
Megan Stephens is small-town equestrian from the hills of New York. She first hit the saddle at the age of four and the obsession has grown ever since. She is mom to a Hackney gelding and competes in hunter/jumper divisions for a local farm. She enjoys freelance writing about her favorite topic in her spare time.