Thursday, March 31, 2011

Horse and Human Friends

I have many equine friends who live all over the country. I am talking about the four-legged kind, not the two-legged. Some I see regularly, some, like my human friends, not so often. Some mornings I wake up and deeply miss a horse friend who is pastured hundreds of miles away. Or maybe just a few miles.

While I think of my dear equine friends regularly, I am not convinced they do the same about me. I do not believe one or another spends his or her time daydreaming about when they will see me next. I don't think they miss me much when I am not there, if at all.

However, I continue to be amazed every time I visit one of my special horse friends. Nine times out of ten the horse leaves his or her food, and his friends, to walk to me and greet me. This is a huge thing for a horse. Horses instinctively know they are safer in a herd than alone. Many are reluctant to step away from a big pile of hay, or the green grass. I am honored that the horse chooses to spend time with me. Honored and more than a little humbled.

I stand quietly as each of my friends stops a respectful foot or two away and waits for me to initiate contact. I am here, now, and s/he remembers me. I run my hands over my friend's body. Scratch them in their special spot. I tell them what I have been up to since we last met.

We talk for a while and eventually I turn to go, giving promises that it definitely will not be so long before we meet again. My horse friend walks me to the gate and we enjoy a final hug.

I realize that my visits with my horse friends are not so much different than visits with my human friends. We meet, greet, enjoy, catch up, and hug before we leave. Because that's what friends do and it just doesn't matter how many legs you have.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My Friend

A dear friend of mine passed away recently. He was kind and gentle and patient. Forgiving and quiet. Friendly. He hated the heat and loved sticking his face in front of a fan. He was polite and always let others go first. He was the first to compromise during a disagreement, the last to pick a fight.

Nelson loved being out in nature, but he also loved--like most of us do--for others to make him feel special. He gloried in a job well done and he enjoyed the success of others. Nelson was especially good at encouraging people to reach their goals. He was a confidence builder, a teacher, a nurturer. Nelson was the best.

My friend Nelson was older, but not elderly. When he passed, he went quickly. He would have wanted it that way. He'd had some health concerns in the past, but nothing life threatening. When it was his time, it was his time. I only wish we'd had time to say goodbye.

Nelson inspired me every day to step up and be a better person, a better teacher, a better friend. He reminded me to be thorough, and to take time to breathe every now and then. And sigh. Nelson gave the best sighs.

My friend Nelson was a 16.1 hand, solid colored Paint gelding. He was a show horse in his younger years, but I knew him as a therapy horse, a horse who taught children with disabilities not only to ride, but about fairness, teamwork, determination, hard work and success. I will miss you, Nelson, my friend. And I will never forget you, or all that you taught me. Rest well and in peace.