At the barn this morning, I saw a fellow boarder with a new horse. We stood in the tack room--me in jeans and sneakers, her in sleek black riding boots, breeches, and helmet.
"How's your new horse?" I asked.
"Oh he's just great! I've been sick so I haven't been able to ride in a few days, but I bet the time off did him good."
"How's Limerick?" she asked.
"Eh, she's okay, she's still lame," I said. I explained about the bruise, and how she is now lame on her right foreleg, how it may be from compromising for the bruise on her left fore hoof.
"I haven't been able to ride her for a month, I really miss it," I said softly. My voice broke just a little and I looked away, swallowing back the lump in my throat. I paused. "She's getting older, it's taking her longer to recover from things. When she was young, she could bounce back from anything in a week."
The woman's eyes softened.
"How old is Limerick?"
"She's seventeen. I was going to show her in August but I don't think I can now. It will take a long time to bring her back into shape."
As I walked away from the tack room, my throat tightened and I suddenly saw the asphalt, the morning sun on the barn, the pigeons pecking at stray grain, through a haze of tears.
If your horse is young, never take his youth for granted. With each ride, build pleasant memories for the future.
If your horse is aging, never let a day go by without telling him you love him. Hug him, love him, and take the time to look back on your life with him, and when you do ride, cherish every single moment in the saddle as if it was your last.