I was asked a vital question the other day that changed everything. I have been struggling lately since Rapture hurt himself again and I knew we had come to a crossroads.
Since Rapture injured his leg, which I’ve now come to believe is a splint rather than a suspensory ligament injury, I’ve been questioning what he will be physically capable of doing. I’m worried that he has the will to please and the full intention to be great at anything I ask him (except his greatest weakness, trail riding) but his body doesn’t seem to be able to foster that sort of willpower.
As I describe him, he’s like superman in a body made out of tinfoil.
But I refuse to give up on him. I made a promise that these boys would have a home with me for the rest of their days and I intend on keeping it.
Never the less, during a conversation about my goals in life, my boss asked me what I wanted to do (aside from equine assisted therapy). My brain scrambled for an answer. There are so many things I want; to learn and improve my riding so that I can better understand and teach horseback riding for better balance and movement of the horse as well as the rider. I want to jump, I want to compete, I want to learn more about cutting, team penning, and reining.
But I knew that there was a great possibility that Rapture would never be able to do these things.
She said something outright, probably without realizing, that I had yet to admit to myself until that moment. My bubba is a hard keeper. He just is. He doesn’t gain weight without a lot of help and if he gets too much exercise, he burns through it all. On top of that, he is prone to injuries and illnesses but I feel like a lot of that has to do with his body’s struggle to maintain a healthy condition.
But what draws me to him is his willing heart and his fighting spirit. He never complains, he always wants to move even when I know it’s not comfortable. He will go anywhere or do anything despite fear or pain. He would never hurt a soul but he does also make his feelings known to those who listen. He is so kind to children and such an amazing teacher. Sometimes I just stand back and watch him with kids and I’m blown away.
My boss told me I have a choice; I could try to find him another person who would love him and where he would have a job, I could start working him towards a purpose like being a lesson horse, or if I was really that attached to him, I could keep him as my personal horse even though he may never be able to do all of the things that I want to do. She said one thing in particular;
“I’m not trying to tell you to sell your horse; I don’t think you should. But you should think about his purpose. If he is ‘that’ horse that is truly special to you, and he could be, then keep him. But if not, think about working him towards another goal.”
Is he ‘the one?’ Considering the fact that he is a hard keeper, has weird conformation and bad habits, is less than perfectly trained and older than a desirable age, I know the answer.
I adore both of my horses. Gemini is such an amazing little gem. He really was my unexpected treasure. He is such a great lesson horse and kid horse for my daughter; that is his job and purpose and he loves it.
But Rapture was the one I thought was most promising and yet has been able to do the least. He is the one that I have to work the hardest for and yet financially earns very little.
“Gem earns the food and Bubba eats it,” is how my boss put it.
But is it true love? Is he my ‘one?’
Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of my hero-horse who would carry me toward my goals. He would be my partner in everything and nothing or no one could touch our bond. We would do everything from jumping to barrel racing to running through the woods, swimming and just lounging in the shade and munching snacks. He would be fearless and trustworthy. He would look at me and see through me, and I would do the same with him.
The first day I met Rapture, I fought back the idea that he could be that horse because I was terrified of loving him and losing him. But over time, he showed me that he trusted me even when he didn’t trust others, and that he was worthy of my trust. Even when he was in pain, he was so careful to keep me from falling off. I’ve never ridden a horse that cared that much about not dropping me. He was so brave in the face of danger. He never faltered when we were charged by dogs, stopped at a stop sign while a motorcycle pulled up beside him, or any variety of other obstacles that most horses would be horrified by.
Our first day at the beach, he charged straight into the water without hesitation, and even after he had fallen in a hole and soaked us both, he swam and played. He surprised me by being an amazing little jumper and he thrilled me with his love for barrel racing. Nothing makes me happier than hearing him answer my whistle with a whinny. I remember one day he got loose from the hitching post and began to wander. I turned the corner to see several people attempting to approach him, trying to judge which way he would go. Yet as he set eyes on me and calmly came straight to me, I realized that the bond was real even if he was a brat occasionally.
“Wow, my horse would never do that.” I tried to hide my pride when I heard someone nearby admiring his choice to come to me rather than make me chase him all over the ranch.
Even now as his leg heals, my favorite place to be is still near him, drinking my coffee and watching him play in the morning turnout, or sitting in his stall with my lunch while he nibbles his grain. I don’t do this because he’s talented or well bred. I do it for love.
Love is patient, love is kind, selfless and endless; it is all the things he always is to me.
Love is blind as I am to his imperfections. When I see him, I only see his willing heart, his silly personality, his gentle and loving character and his relentless spirit.
Love is a battle that we fight to get and keep him in good health, one that I will continue to fight because I love him and he deserves it.
People may say, “it’s just a horse.” Why spend so much time, money and energy on an animal? Why treat your friendship with a horse with the same value as you would with a human? You could always get another one, right?
Every horse is special but none are the same. He’s not just a horse. There is only one like him in the whole world and he is mine. He is a better friend than some human beings could ever dream of being, even and especially when I don’t deserve it. I almost value him more than I would any human companion. That sounds crazy but other horse people would understand. I would never devalue that trust and kindness that he has shown me by treating him like an object or just a way to make money.
I’m not saying that my boss was wrong (she really never is). She was realistic and I need that. But when it comes to the question of whether or not he is ‘that’ horse for me, the answer is a resounding, “hell yes.”
So now as he heals and we fight to put weight on him before winter closes its grip on us, I do so with more fervor than before, and with newfound purpose.