This is my favourite picture of Spydie and I. It’s not a good photo in that it is blurry and the light was bad. I don’t remember when it was taken. I know where it was, but I don’t know who took it, nor was I aware that it was being taken. And that’s why I love it so much. It was not a photo taken deliberately with me smiling at the camera or trying to get a good angle or doing something clever….it was just a snapped moment in time of my best mate and I, so obviously enjoying ourselves. Look how happy and relaxed we are, just loping around having fun together.
That is what makes it special. Together.
A lot has happened this year. For me, I’ve lost two of my dearest 4-legged mates and we’ve seen people losing their lives during bushfires here in Oz, trying to save their precious horses. Once more I have found myself trying to explain to my non-horsie family and friends, just how important our horses are to us and what our relationships means. I find it almost impossible.
Our horses are not pets, nor are they possessions. They are our partners in almost every sense of the word. We make each other better. Achieve more together than we ever could on our own. But that still doesn’t say enough does it? People still don’t get it.
It struck me to the heart this last week, what it is that makes it special. I’ve been editing the last of the QS Lesson Modules this last week and in doing that, I need to write editorial about each Module; what they mean, what you learn as a student and what you’ll achieve when doing them. Over and over again words like trust, connection, rapport, communication, understanding, repeat themselves throughout the entire thing. Of course, there are many ‘tasks’ that we achieve also as we go through the programme, but it is all these things that our students want and demand from the QS programme. This is what we search for eternally with our horses.
They are not just a companion that provides a pleasurable way to get around and see the sights on the weekend. We are, for the most part, constantly working on a deeper relationship. It’s not enough just to be together, hang out, go for a ride…whatever. We want that thing that bring us together, that unites us in spirit and soul and that leaves us both feeling like we’ve connected, achieved and come out the other side filled with the joy that only a shared experience can bring.
Spydie died on Christmas day. It was sudden…he had had a paddock accident two weeks prior…and it was devastating for me. He was there, and then he wasn’t. He was 24 years old and at the end of his career but not his life. He had so much still to offer in so many ways, for many more years. He was an emotional horse, not brave or confident in himself, but with me he could do anything. He got his confidence from me and in return I got his try and his dependability. He had my back. Always. He was so reliable and always put in his best effort, even if he was tired or sore or found things hard. We did things together that neither of us could do on our own. He was always there for me. We traveled Australia, literally, and did countless demonstrations for countless people in both the biggest of arenas to the meanest of showgrounds.
I remember one night, having arrived late after a long day of hold ups, doing a demo in the semi dark. The lighting was bad as they had flood-lights pointing straight at us so we couldn’t see….we were blinded by the light. The sound system was cranked full bore and pounded out of just one speaker straight in front of us instead of spread around, so we also couldn’t hear. That night, I pulled him out of the float, had about 10 minutes to warm him up after he had traveled all day and then we were on. He couldn’t see me, he couldn’t hear me….we had to virtually feel our way. And still he put in. Our demo was working at liberty and then bareback and bridle-less. He sailed over those upright barrels that he could barely see and carried me around doing lead changes and pirouettes and didn’t put a foot wrong. He had never been in that arena in his life, he hadn’t even had a chance to check it out and although he would have been aware of the hundreds of scary humans somewhere out in the darkness beyond the lights, he could not have seen them. But he trusted me then as he had many times before and since. When the music stopped and it was my turn to speak, I just cried….I couldn’t speak for a moment because the tears of gratitude just overwhelmed me.
Another time when NSW was flooded over more than half of the state, we had to go 400km out of our way to get to a demo in Victoria. So instead of arriving in the morning with time to rest the horses and settle in, we got there right as the demo was due to start. The crowds were all seated and waiting, the music was on. We literally got the horses off of the float, tired and stiff after a long hot day of travel and once again, he just stepped out there and made me look good. Spydie, you were a Legend. There is no other word. You never understood a word of what I said but you always knew what I meant.
I still don’t know if I can explain to non-horse folk just what our horses mean to us. Why we put our lives on the line for them and can never do enough to thank them for all they give us. Maybe it’s because they never ask anything of us, that we feel we can never do enough in return. They make us better for knowing them. We constantly strive to be better for them. To be worthy.
Spydie, I miss you and I thank you; for being my rock, my mirror and my shelter in the storm. I could always count on you. You were faithful and true and stepped up to the plate each and every time I asked it of you, and there were so, so many times.
Only a horse could give so much and expect so little in return.
Quantum Savvy January 2016