"Until one has loved an animal, a part of
one's soul remains unawakened" - Anatole France
Death is such an interesting aspect of life, and one that I am blessed to not have encountered often. In fact, only a handful of people I have known have passed on, and only one close relative. I consider myself lucky in that sense. However, I have felt grief for countless animals, and those losses I sometimes feel deeper than any other.
Animals touch your soul in a way that humans cannot even begin to comprehend or match. It is a different kind of love, friendship and forever bond, and I know most of you agree with me.
Losing a horse though, is my worst nightmare and I was so close to losing Yankee this spring...those feelings stay with me. They surge on occasion, creating fleeting panic, squeezing my heart, constricting my breath and battering my thoughts with worry, pain and heartbreak. I know that when that horse goes, I will be inconsolable. I try not to think about it.
I did not expect to feel that type of pain though, for a horse I haven't owned in years. She was my first horse though, and they say you will never forget your first true love.
It was love. Love at first sight. I was ten years old, and my parents surprised me for Christmas with a pony. She was horribly ugly, her tail was gone, her head was huge, she had tiny white spots everywhere and she was permanently fat from years of being a broodmare and she was a MARE...but I loved her instantly because she was mine.
|There were no iPhones back then, sadly|
I had begged for years for a pony, like any typical girl would, but my parents made me work for it. She wasn't just a gift that a spoiled white kid got for christmas one year- I spent literal years proving I was ready for such a huge responsibility, and they were hands off for most of my equine years. I wish I had more photos of her, but anything we have is buried deep in the family photo album archives.
|A rare photo from our time together|
Dolly taught me more than I can even comprehend, and to this day I am grateful for her sassy attitude, her sweet nickers, her willingness, her staying power and her mothering nature.
She was a registered, winning Arabian mare that spent her younger years as a western pleasure champion. She then went on to have 11 foals and then was sold to my parents for the rock bottom price of $700. I will never know what she was like in her earlier years, but I did find a few photos of her offspring floating around the net. They looked EXACTLY Like her, which I am not surprised about.
|Dolly carting my cute ass around a tiny jumper course|
There was this one spot on her elbow that had a red heart inside of it, and that was my favorite thing about my horse. She had a heart by her heart!
Dolly was a raging bitch though, most of the time, and I struggled sometimes with her attitude. Typical chestnut (ARABIAN) mare. But I loved her anyways. She was the sweetest girl alive on the ground, and intended to keep you there. I think she bucked me off everyday for two years, hah!
Granted, I was new to riding, so coming off that often was no surprise, and I usually bounced back on, much to Dolly's displeasure. After a few tries to unseat me she usually begrudgingly settled into whatever we had planned for the day and did was she as asked by my puny pre-teen self.
Oh the adventures we had!
I was incredibly lucky to grow up in such a cool area, and horse trails butted up against our property. My mom would give me a small pack and send us off for the day. How a parent was ever comfortable with letting her 10/11/12 year old go off all day, in the woods, on a horse, with no cell phone is beyond me, but that was my childhood. We explored everything! Galloped through fields, meandered down paths, and crossed streams. We laid in grassy knolls together, chilled under trees and played in the corn. It was a magical existence, a true fairytale.
Dolly was the greatest gift I was ever given; she allowed me to find myself. She was my best friend and a shoulder to cry on. She was my comfort through the turmoils of being the youngest in middle and high school. She was my constant, my friend and my everything. We did 4H, jumpers, western, gaming, hunters and even dabbled in dressage and eventing. We completed 2 BN events together when I was 12, right before I got Spirit, the Wonder Pony (also RIP). She did everything I asked, with a little bit of sass.
Soon, she grew older and I grew much taller, but we still enjoyed each others company. She was in her mid 20s at this point, and I was moving on with life. Dolly girl was much too old to continue competing, but she still had some spunk in her! I remember one day I took her out for a bareback stroll and asked her to trot and the little B bucked me off (I was 16 at the time!) and I broke my arm falling off that damn 14 hand pony! Only horse related riding injury to date, on the tiniest horse I've owned, haha.
Eventually, I got Yankee, along with Spirit, and she needed a new job. I donated her to a friends non-profit horse camp for trouble teens, and Dolly flourished there for a few years. However, when the camp lost funding, Dolly found her new and forever home with a family in SC, where the winters weren't as harsh and she was only lightly ridden occasionally. She was about 25 at this point an I couldn't have been happier where she ended up. She lived the rest of her days at that farm with a wonderful family that loved and spoiled her...and thats all I could ever have hoped for for my Fyre Dawl.
|Dolly on her 30th birthday|
I got the news yesterday that it was her decided last day on earth and I simply didn't believe it....Dolly would never die, she was too spunky. But 33 years later, my baby girl was leaving us. I assume her body was failing her. I know most of her teeth were gone and she had trouble laying down and getting up. Until recently, she held weight fairly well..but at 33 her body was tired. I had the pleasure of knowing her for 15 of those years, and owning her for about 6, and I will never forget her snarky, beautiful face.
|Enjoying her last bath..and look at that tail! <3 td="">3>|
The hole in my heart feels too big right now, like it won't close up for a long time. I cried and cried in the car, so much I had to pull over and just let it flow. Pulling myself together for the rest of the work day was impossible, and I left early. I just can't believe she's gone. I so wish I had had the chance to touch her soft muzzle one last time, or give that neck I had hugged so many times one more. My peace comes with the fact that she was loved until the very end and never worried about hunger or abandonment. Her family gave her what I couldn't, and for that I am forever grateful.
Rest in peace Fyre Dawl 1983-2016