Sunday, May 15, 2011

Boots in the Tack Room

Yesterday I washed Gailey's boots, saddle pads, and polo wraps. I carried them out to my little barn and opened the tack room door. I gazed around the small room, looking for a place to store them because Gailey won't be needing them anymore, neither will I. At least not for the foreseeable future.

I thought I was okay with it. I really did, but a dull pain filled me as I looked at all the tack, different items I'd used over that past thirteen years of owning Gailey, and past twenty-eight years of having a riding horse in my life. An emptiness consumed me, the kind of which I hadn't felt since my divorce.

A week ago the vet checked Gailey yet again because of her on-going lameness. His pronouncement didn't suprise me. Her suspensories have finally "given out" and while she appears comfortable and still leaps and bucks in the paddock, she's not rideable. And won't be. Ever.

If I took her home, he said I could probably take her on short, leisurely trail rides at a walk. For now, she remains at the barn to see if she can have a baby. If she takes, she'll stay there through next year. If not, she'll come home. The vet didn't feel the pregnancy would be a big issue for her legs, just put in extra long bar shoes behind.

At first, I was relieved. Finally, I had my answer. Not having a horse to ride every day freed me up to work on my writing, finish several more books, and publish them. I devised a schedule for the various books I wanted to complete, believing in a year I might be able to earn enough money for an nice horse. The first book in my Seattle Lumberjacks Football Series, Fourth and Goal was released a week ago, my first Jami Davenport release in two years. I drowned myself in promo for the book and writing the sequel.

And I was okay with it, really I was. After all, I'd still be riding once a week in lessons, only on someone else's horse.

I brought home my equipment from the boarding stable--stuff I wouldn't be needing--and began the process of cleaning it and putting it away.

Yesterday as I washed and stored Gailey's boots, it hit me. No longer would I be putting these boots on her legs. I felt this enormous loss similar to when I divorced, this empty hole only a horse can fill. An entire after-work routine which I'd followed the past twenty-plus years was gone. No longer would I be going to the barn to saddle up my mare, put on her boots, ride around the arena talking to the other boarders, practicing dressage movements, while dodging other riders. Oh, I could still go to the barn, but it wasn't the same. I don't fit in. I'm not one of them. I don't have the same experiences as the other boarders do. I'm not readying myself for the next show.

Sure, I still have a horse. I can still visit her, let her graze at the end of the lead rope, brush her, and breathe in the wonderful, unique smell of horses. I just can't go through the routine of preparing to ride, riding, and cooling out. Not with my own horse.

To me it's a grieving process, and I'll survive because someday there will be another horse. I've had doubts I'd replace Gailey. Yet as I placed her boots in a plastic container and stored them in my tack room, I knew I would replace her eventually. Not having a horse to ride was not an option.

For now, I'll have to be content to ride school horses and visit my own horse after work.

But someday...


Francesca Prescott said...

Oh Jami, I hurt for you, I really do. I know how you're feeling, as I felt the same when I was forced to retire Kwintus last autumn. I didn't think I'd be able to get another horse for a long time.

But things change, and good things happen, and yes it's sad that she has to be retired, but hopefully she'll have a baby, and imagine how exciting that will be?! And you'll have more time to concentrate on your writing. Another horse story would be great... I'm currently reading Fourth and Goal and really enjoying it, and will definitely buy the print copy when it comes out (I printed it out...and now have papers everywhere!).

I'm sending you lots of big hugs and loads of love.

Jami Davenport said...

Thanks, Francesca. Yes, I do know you understand what I'm going through. It's strange to be in this situation after all these years. Thanks for you kind words on F&G. I dont' know when I'll do another equestrian romance. I may combine one with a sequel to F&G.

I'm hoping for another book from you, too. When can we look forward to that?

Unknown said...

Great post, Jami. I'm sure there are quite a few of us who can relate. I lost my horse and pony this fall. I knew I wouldn't be getting a new horse right away, but had planned on getting one this spring. I even horse hunted a little over the winter. Knowing another horse was in the wings helped me through the grief. But things have changed and I now don't know when another horse will be able to enter my life. I've been putting off going through my horse trailer to clean and decided what tack I'll keep and what will go. It's something I know I need to do, but don't feel ready to do yet.

Jami Davenport said...

Angie, I'm sorry you lost your horse and pony. At least I still have Gailey, just not in the capacity I once did.

So how do all of us horseless riders fill our free time? How do we replace the lost excercise and camaraderie of other riders?

Dreaming said...

I am so sorry to hear your pain in your writing. I know that hole in the heart and I can just imagine looking at all of the tangible items that connect with your emotions so closely.
I hope that Gailey takes - having a young one to look forward to might make things a bit easier!

Jami Davenport said...

Thanks so much Dreaming. I'll keep everyone updated on her progress.

Alison said...

Hi Jami--loved the emotion in your post. There are so many horses out there who long to be adopted. Have you ever gone on any of the Thoroughbred websites? So many are being rehabilated and are waiting for loving homes. I know you love those big dressage horses, but you might find one who needs all that love you have in an unexpected place. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I am grieving this moment with you's so hard sometimes to move from one phase of horse ownership to another. I'm proud of you for being such a wonderful owner to Gailey, for realizing what was best for her and following that through. There are so many horses out there who are not so fortunate. I do hope Gailey takes and you can have a little one to celebrate and share with your sweet girl!