The year started off looking wonderful. The morning of New Year’s Eve Nonie and I canter along the back stretch of our trail ride riding tempi changes. The canter pirouettes were coming together. I was certain that Nonie and I would dance down an advanced centreline tails streaming behind us. Who knew maybe we’d even start at FEI?
But the universe had other plans for us. I got the call that sends icicles of fear down the spine of horse owners everywhere. Less than an hour after returning home from our lesson, Nonie suffered a horrific injury. It was one which there was a small chance she could have come back from, but the recovery process, the pain that she would be in while this happened and the incredibly high risk of complications didn’t feel fair to put her through. After surgery and four days in equine ICU, I had to make the decision to put Nonie’s needs above my own and end her suffering. For the first time in my 32 years my heart broke. It shattered into a thousand tiny pieces. I wasn’t sure how I would ever put it back together.
At times the grief was so deep, that I didn’t see a way out. I felt brittle, the smallest things would spark a flood of tears. If you have ever lost a horse, particularly in an accident you’ll understand. They are not just the vehicle that takes us to our dreams. They are a pet, a partner, a family member, a place of freedom. Nonie was also my best friend. She was with me through my naive early years of adulthood through to finding my inner badass in my early thirties.
Once the initial grief cleared, I felt cheated. Our story wasn’t finished. The thought stuck on a loop in my brain, ‘I’d give anything for more time with her’. But the truth is no amount of time with you would have been enough Nonie. But I know that our story isn’t actually over, because Nonie, I’ll carry you with me, always. Every time I put my foot in the stirrup iron. Every time I need to find a little bravery for myself or the horse I’m riding you’ll be with me. And although you won’t be the horse I ride down my first FEI centreline with, it will be you, and the partnership we forged together, that got me there.