We leased Pete for her during the summer, and when it was too hot to ride, Pete was bathed, hosed off with a cool mist, and lovingly fed treats by my little girl. I’m sure Pete was thinking ‘Not a bad way to spend the day, really.’ Since he didn’t have any teeth, my job was to endlessly grate carrots for his enjoyment. Watching my daughter and Pete enjoying each other brought such warmth to my heart I (mostly) didn’t mind making sure freshly grated carrot was always available. I did draw the line at making homemade applesauce, but Pete seemed to appreciate the store bought variety just fine.
Recently, Pete’s arthritis has been worsening and several weeks ago he fell with a rider on him. No one was hurt, thankfully, but it was wisely decided that it was time for Pete to retire. He’s living happily on a farm within a day’s drive of the barn we ride at, and there’s a new horse at the facility that would be perfect for my daughter. She took the news bravely when we told her about Pete having to move away, but the tears were swimming in her eyes. We tried introducing her to the new horse and she dutifully gave him a pat while he nosed through the bars and tried to make friends, but her heart is still with Pete.
She’s had a picture of herself riding Pete in a place of honor on her nightstand for two years now and this morning I found it on a high shelf in her room. Maybe this is her way of starting to let go, or maybe she’s just too sad to look at it. I wish I could fix this for her and I’m not sure what to do. I know in time she’ll ride other horses she’ll love very much, but the first horse my parents leased for me will have a place in my heart all his own for the rest of my life, just as Pete will for her.
For all the joy they give us, there’s sometimes sadness in loving horses, just as there is in the rest of life. If anyone has any pearls of wisdom I can share to ease this transition for her, please send them my way. Growing up sure can be tough sometimes!