I was never emotionally attached to photographs or found the need pull them up and relive the past.

I thought I had all I needed right in front of me where I could see it. That it is, at least, until a misunderstood, fleabitten grey, draft horse, wandered into my life.

If you listened to the whispers that swept through the barn, you would hear his name mentioned in fear.

“Martin bites.”

“He kicks.”

“He scares me.”

Then there was me. From the first time I had sat upon his back I knew he was something special.

It was a feeling of automatic love and appreciation and my trainer could tell he felt the same. I pushed aside the rumors and gave Martin a clean slate filled with adoration and handfuls of cookies.

I too was misunderstood and going through a rough year at school. I desperately needed a friend to confide in, a shoulder to cry on, and someone to make me laugh on the days I thought the sun was never going to shine.

Martin was there when I needed someone the most. He became the ray of light that broke up the darkness and the reason I smiled ear to ear.

I would spend hours before our rides sitting in his stall watching his movements and learning his quirks. In lessons, he would canter around and jump with his ears swivelled forwards. Everyone knew Martin was in the ring when he would do one of his fancy lead changes and swish his tail for show.

I felt on top of the world, I felt free, I felt alive—all of these amazing feelings would take over when I was on his back.

Then, in the blink of an eye, it all changed.

Martin came up lame one day and my trainers were not sure why. I wasn’t able to ride him but I went and sat with him and groomed him every day. I kept telling myself he was going to get better and I would have my horse back.

The longer he sat in his stall and I wasn’t able to ride him, the more anxious I grew. He was my best friend and the reason I smiled everyday. If something bad happened to him, I would be absolutely devastated.

On July 31, I received a heart-breaking text from my trainer. It read:

Martin will be leaving tomorrow for some R&R. If you would like to say goodbye I would come today. 

I ran into my mom’s room with tears pouring down my face and showed her my phone. She held me for the longest time before I was able to calm down the slightest bit. In the end, I decided I didn’t have the strength to go say goodbye.

When I got to the barn the next day for my lesson and saw his empty stall my heart immediately broke in two again. Martin was actually gone and I was going to have to learn to live with that reality.

Over the next few months I became very close with the owner of the farm where Martin was being kept. I set up a day to go visit him. My heart was beating out of my chest on the drive over. As the sign for Fox Trot Farm came into view, I started to cry from happiness.

Before my mom could stop the car, I was already out of the door and running inside.

As I stepped foot into the aisle, instinct took over and I called out his name. I was greeted by a deep whinny and a grunt that I had learned to love with every bone in my body. I followed the sound up the aisle until I came across Martin. Plastered on his face he had a look that read, what took you so long?

I opened the stall, threw my hands around his neck and hugged with all my might. As I started to cry, he decided it was a good time to eat my hair and search my pockets for cookies. I willingly obliged, calling my mom over to capture that moment of pure bliss.

Photo courtesy of the author

I find myself going back and looking at this photo almost every night. It captures one of the purest moments of happiness and utter adoration in my life.

It’s fair to say I am emotionally attached to photographs, now.

About the Author

Anna Weiss has always had a profound love for all animals and especially horses.