“I had just buried a home, a business and finally a child,” Erin Badgley writes, when a kindred spirit named Stole My Hart entered her life and lived up to her name.
I put my hand through the bars of her stall door to stroke her face. She was finished with her grain and already beginning to become agitated and restless, ready to be free of her confinement.
I can relate to her in that way. The need to move without the worry of walls and bars afraid of the barriers and ties that restrict our freedom. I stood there a moment and thought about how long our lives had intertwined. She came into my life as I was desperately trying to rebuild and reclaim it. So was she.
Hart had been saved at the last minute; she had been starving while feeding the parasites that ravaged her small body. It was when she was cleared to start life over again as I was desperately wrestling a life from one that was grasping and devouring my world that we met. I had just buried a home, a business and finally a child.
My husband and I were angry; both of us were using the last of our energy to snatch back everything that had ever been stolen from us. We worked for a new home and we were filling it with as much life as we could. Somehow we thought his gift of a horse while I held another son in my arms would fill the void ripped out of our hearts and lives. Our binge continued, gobbling up life at a feverish pace, no matter how toxic it was and how ill we made ourselves with it.
She stole our hearts through it all. Every spring I would vow to begin her training and end her career as a lap dog. But he left, while grabbing at what he could gain, he found his true love and calling. I was so numb all I remember was begging my parents to take the horse for the summer. All I could think of was stopping the loss from my life. I couldn’t lose our horse on top of everything else.
So I began a life alone with my kids, but I had her to sooth me on the weekends when I took the kids to the farm.
My first child believed her father was right and followed him shortly after he sued me for the divorce. This Hart carried me into the woods to soothe my spirit. She still had not been trained, yet she carried me and my broken spirit when I asked. I was so broken at that point that I didn’t understand what a gift she offered to me.
A year later yet another home slipped through my fingers and I followed Hart back to my childhood home. Now we are both living on the family farm. So here we are, I am severed and forever broken, she dysfunctional and herd bound; both of us nervous for our space and afraid to lose our freedom.
I stood for another moment watching the equine mirror of myself before pulling back the latch of her stall door to set her free.
I wrote these thoughts seven years after my husband left me. Stole My Hart is now at a local barn that specializes in psychology based training and welcomes children to learn horsemanship and animal husbandry by volunteering to work. Three of my four children now volunteer with me to feed the horses and clean the stalls while Hart is leaving her lap dog career at the ripe old age of nine to begin working as the family horse.
Thank you for the chance to reflect on what is means to have a best friend in a horse.
Go Back on Track, and Go Riding!