Have you ever had to come to grips with the fact that the way you feel about your horse is not the way everyone feels about horses? Have you ever run smack into the realization that you're actually pretty judgmental about people who don't make their horse the Number One Priority?
That's where I'm at right now. Ethan decided to give his horse away and I'm having a hard time with it. I've never dealt with change very well. I don't like surprises.
First, there's my emotional attachment to the animal which is totally clouding my judgment about all of this. I absolutely love that little guy. For reasons I don't need to go into here, I haven't been able to spend much time with him lately, and I was looking forward to being able to snuggle him when I get home from work and get some horsey time in before leaving in the morning. Maybe Ethan is right that it's too much for us to handle right now, but I had this rosy image in my mind of throwing on wellies with my pajamas and dumping water buckets, or investing in a good set of Carharts to get out there in the snow. Hard work, but it's what I've always wanted. I looked forward to bringing Tucker home for the weekend so we could ride through the trails together. I have been humming along thinking this horse would be in my backyard in a matter of months, hopefully along with a mini long-eared companion or two. Those plans have changed, and the disappointment feels like a punch in the gut. Maybe I'm being a brat here, and I'm pouting a little because I'm not getting what I wanted.
There's also the fact that I was left out of this decision-making process entirely. He has his reasons for this, like them or not, but I can't help but feel like the rug has been yanked out from underneath me. It's not my horse. I know that. Ultimately this was his decision, and I probably would have tried to talk him out of it, and I'm sure he knows that, and that's part of why he waited until there was nothing I could do about it to fill me in. And he knew I would be upset, and we all know that the male brain seeks to avoid these situations at all costs. But it feels a bit like a betrayal, as much as that seems like a really dramatic way to put things.
And here's the part where I'm being judgmental. I don't like the fact that he lost interest in this hobby and moved on to something else, and the horse has just been discarded like a pair of old rollerblades. I would never do that. Or would I? I did sell a horse who was mine at one point. I've ridden many horses that were for sale and helped them move on to other homes. I know that not every horse is a one-owner horse. In fact, I know that most horses have several owners over their lifetimes. And I obviously wouldn't disown any of my horse friends if they decided to market their horses for sale. People's needs and interests change and sometimes a new home is the best thing for horse and owner. Rationally, I know all of that. And it doesn't make me feel better about this in the least.
Maybe part of it is that I know nothing about the home he's going to, which makes me nervous. I have a tendency to assume the worst about the unknown. I have been told that it will be a good situation for the horse, that his life will improve, and at the very least I can say that he'll be getting worked more consistently. I should take everything at face value. But there's also no contract, no right of first refusal, no guarantee that down the road this horse will have a safe place to land. Things happen, horses get sold and resold, I've seen how the best intentions can end up going horribly wrong. Ethan's inexperience with the horse world makes it difficult to just blindly trust his judgment on all this. Maybe that makes me a bad girlfriend, but there you have it.
I should look at this as a good thing. Now there will be no more opportunity for conflict when I disagree with some decision Ethan's made about his horse. I won't have to step in with my two cents ever again, and he won't have to feel criticized. Horses are now my thing, not our thing. But part of me is mourning that. So much of our relationship developed around horses. Our first date was a hunter pace. You can go back through this blog and find many adventures of Tucker and Mooch. All of that is gone now, and it makes me sad. I used to love that Ethan wasn't waiting for me to get home at night, because he was at the barn too. As Ethan has ridden less and less lately, I've seen that familiar conflict developing. I spend too much time at the barn, and spend too much money on the horse, and all I care about is horses. I've been down this road before. I can't help feeling like I know where this is headed.
So much of my identity is defined by my horse ownership. If I'm not talking about Tucker, I'm thinking about him. If I'm not at the barn, I'm reading an article and planning my next ride, or looking at the show schedule, or rolling my wraps. I am the poster child for Crazy Horse Girl. Rationally, I know that not everyone is like that. Ethan's identity as a person has very little to do with the fact that he was a horse owner. For him, it was just another hobby he enjoyed. The fact that he's given away his horse doesn't change much for him. So why do I feel like I don't even know him?
I don't expect to be able to answer any of this. My image of what the future will be like has dramatically shifted, and it's going to take some time for me to wrap my head around it. I expect that I'll sit with this for a while and come to terms with it. There will be no barn in the backyard. Our six acres of land will not be home to horses or donkeys, at least not for several years until I possibly move Tucker there for his retirement. Life will go on. Maybe I'll plant a garden. And hopefully Mooch will have a happy life, wherever he ends up.