The love of a pet is one thing, but I’ve never seen a connection like the one my friend Lisa had with her horse, Joey. It was beautiful, and despite him being gone, it is still a magical relationship. That loss will stay with her forever, but life brought Lisa another horse to love, and for that, I’m so happy.
Joey, my first horse. But he was really more than that, he was my friend, my teacher, my keeper of secrets. He was my constant with my comings and goings through high school, university and then work. He was always there. For 20 years Joey was in my life and beside me. He was who I would go to to just ‘be’; no expectations.
I was 15 years old when he came into my life and he became my everything. He taught me about horses and how to ride, but more importantly he taught me through those formative years how to be responsible, how to put someone else’s feelings and needs ahead of my own. Joey helped to create and shape me into the person I am today.
So, on the unforgettable day that he tragically left me, I was devastated. His being was ripped from me so fast and so horribly that I was not able to say good-bye. I was in so much shock and disbelief that my horse was dying in front of me that I couldn’t tell him I loved him and that I’d still see him, just not here. I was heartbroken. I no longer had that soft muzzle to cuddle and kiss and whisper to. I didn’t have that back to lay on and and his tummy to scratch. I’d never see that bright blue eye or trot down the road with him. So much more than my horse left me that day.
I was lost and didn’t know what to do with myself. The thought of getting another horse petrified me. One horse had died on me, why couldn’t another one? How could I ask myself to be so vulnerable to that hurt and heartache again? I had lost my innocence and naivety and knew that bad things can happen to me. I am not exempt, I have no immunity over the dreadful happening. It could happen again.
But my heart and gut eventually started to pull and talk to me. I missed that human-horse connection, what was so familiar and a part of me. Without it, I wasn’t me.
So, I found Spirit.
Spirit is a stocky, proud, and feisty Icelandic horse. We have been together for 3 years now and he is my friend, my teacher and is learning to listen to my secrets. I am gradually becoming less afraid that he is going to die and leave me. I no longer need to visit the farm multiple times a day. I have the courage to let him run underneath me and I try new riding activities, exercises and adventures with him. I feel happiness, joy, comfort and familiarity when I am with my Spirit horse.
If the universe would let me have Joey back I would take him back in a heartbeat, but I wouldn’t let Spirit go.
If the universe has taught me one lesson, it is to be brave, be vulnerable, be courageous.
These things will give you happiness, joy and comfort and that sense of familiarity and belonging in this unknown and uncontrollable existence.
The #ShowMeYourBrave Project asks people, “What’s the bravest, scariest, or most intimidating thing you’ve ever done?”. The idea of the project is to share stories of everyday bravery and human resilience to bring us closer together. In sharing, we not only find our voices, but we find support, allies, and others who have faced similar challenges. If you would like to submit your story, we would love to feature your bravery here.