This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. My beautiful horse has been an integral part of my life for ten years, and now it is time to retire him, due to an arthritic leg. I see this as affirmation that this extended trip is the right thing to do. Let me explain the connection.
Horses have been a part of my life since I was six, and spent summers in Michigan. There have been phases where I stopped riding, but would always return. Like many a young girl, my Christmas list always included a pony! When I was 42, that wish finally came true. I saw an ad for Casper in the newspaper (that’s where you placed classified ads then!), just a short little ad for an inexpensive, but tall horse, that would make a good jumping prospect. My daughter is 6’1″, and I am 5’11”, so we were looking for a statuesque horse so our long legs would not brush the ground when mounted. I called the owner, and he said he had a gal coming out to look at him at 3:00. I asked, “Can I come out now?” The result was I had a horse that I had to retrain from Western to English jumping and Dressage delivered the next day.
My trainer said Casper would make the best boyfriend, steady, reliable, concerned for his rider, but with just enough spunk to have fun with! So for ten years, he kinda HAS been my boyfriend. I’ve worked at the barn to offset his board, leased him out to other riders, and ridden him once or twice a week. The trail rides we would go on were incredible! I remember one New Years’ Eve, walking in the peaceful woods, when a delicate, fat-flaked snowfall began to drift down. All was quiet, and magical, the only noise was his snow-muffled hoofs as we enjoyed the last day of the year. And my last trail ride, just this past Friday when we had the most glorious gallop on the knolly path back towards the barn. My heart swelled with the gratefulness that culminated these ten years, and the reality that this was my last ride on my trusted steed. The tears flowed. They flow now.
So I believe Casper was brought into my life, a gift from God. He has been such a gentle soul. His retraining has been successful, and he loved his job as a lesson horse, teaching young riders. My daughter and I had success in the show ring… something I had not aspired to do, but wanted to see how well we could compete occasionally. Last year, I was gearing up to go to some more shows, but Casper turned up lame all summer. I could not figure out what was the matter, and called in equine chiropractors, massage therapists, and acupuncturists. Finally, we took him for a lameness evaluation, and were given the arthritis diagnosis. No more jumping. He eventually became too lame for lessons with even the littlest riders. Retirement was the only option. This was about the time Adam and I started formulating this trip. I could redirect my efforts from learning Dressage tests to planning where we were going to go around the world! My finances would be channeled into saving for the trip, and there would be no obligation of boarding or horsecare while I’m gone. I am seeing the Universe coming together to make this trip happen!
Friday my boy will go to a new home on 100 acres in Lake Geneva – a wonderful place – to be a beloved trail horse. I am assured this new phase of his life will be happy, and this is best for him and for me. I am at peace about how things are coming together, and I know there is a higher purpose and order to these events. I have accomplished my goals with owning a horse, and could not have asked for a better horse than Casper. I don’t know why, but it wrenches my heart. Maybe because it took 42 years to achieve the goal of owning a horse? And he has been everything I could want with horse ownership? He has touched me like no other creature on earth has before.
My adventure awaits.