By Sarah Darker
I had written and submitted an entirely different article for this edition of the Grassroots Gazette. It was an article that spoke about our horses, and how we should pick them according to what we actually want rather than what we feel is expected of us to buy. It was a good article and it is still a sentiment that I stand behind but I thought the timing was off. I felt I needed to put out a more personal article, one that tries to do justice to how I’m feeling today. As a part of that, I want to take this opportunity at the start of a new year to highlight the importance of our horses in our lives. I want to make sure that as the craziness of the year ahead kicks off, we keep the power of our horses to the forefront.
I had slowly moved away from horses during my teenage years. I was busy and other sports didn’t require quite as much time so in the end they were prioritized. I didn’t realize that having horses around was something I needed quite as much. That was until I found myself in floods of tears seeking out Harvey’s familiar fluffy ears. Harvey is my friend’s pony who I was looking after while she visited family. It was New Years Day and I had just found out that my friend had passed away. My only goal was to try and find a way to stem the feelings of loss and anger that I was experiencing. Now, I feel the need to preface this by saying that Harvey is your classic Gelding. He just wants a peaceful life, plenty of food, limited demands on his time or energy and he is happy out. You can only imagine his bewilderment when the new person who is normally his food dispenser appeared in the stable with a tear stained face and not so much as a carrot to offer him. Harvey’s owner is slightly less outwardly emotive than I tend to be so I’m not sure he has ever dealt with so much emotion at one time but he tried his absolute best. In his own distinctive way, he stood looking at me quizzically and nudging me from time to time until I eventually found myself laughing at how hard he was trying and went to go get him the treats he was waiting for.
This interaction led to me finally seeing sense and starting to save up to buy myself another horse. Enter Djouce, a big black mare who stormed into my life and turned it on its head. Djouce is every stereotype of a moody mare. If looks could kill, I would hate to be on her hit list. She could pull faces that have been known to wither grown men and she physically stomped about when she got annoyed. She was comical in the caricature of marishness that she portrayed on the outside, but like all mares, she had a heart that was made of literal gold and a mind that was so quick and intelligent. She could call me out on my notions like no one else could and had a way of making me feel invincible while simultaneously cutting me down to size. In times when we have been dealing with lockdowns and all the other stresses that usually accompany real life, Djouce was a breath of fresh air.
Over the last few years, I have noticed New Year’s morphing into something new for me. It is no longer a solely celebratory time as I had previously thought. Rather, it has become a time for reflection, both positive and negative, and marking the losses of the year that has passed. This year New Years was particularly hard and I found myself gravitating towards Liffey’s stable, stool in hand, just to go sit and talk to her and tell her what was on my mind. After a thorough inspection of the sturdiness of said stool, Liffey allowed me to sit and feel every emotion I needed to feel. She made me laugh, she let me cry, and she gave so much support through her attentiveness and kindness. It’s really difficult to explain to someone who doesn’t own a horse or have any interest in horses how one horse can do so much for us in such little time, in such little ways. Quite honestly, they can. My little Liffey is growing up to be just like her Mum so I know that I will always have a mare that is willing to go to war with me and for me.
This New Year, my resolution is to just focus on my horses. I want to build a relationship with my new horse CJ. I also want to keep working with Liffey to cement our bond and make sure the tiny dragon remains tameable. This year I’m looking forward.