Ashlyn Dilldine shares the story of how, as she was reeling from the loss of her grandmother, a special horse came into her life to help her heal.
I had been searching for eight months when I found him. We all know how frustrating horse shopping can be and I felt like I had the worst luck of all until I met him. I had been looking for so long and I was not going to let anyone tell me the one horse that I had clicked with was wrong for me.
And nobody said anything; not really. But there were the looks when I said he was only three and green. The look that said, “I don’t see this working out.” I knew it wasn’t ideal. He wasn’t even my idea of what I wanted in a horse. I’d only been taking lessons for two years and I had imagined getting more of a confidence builder. After all, green riders and green horses don’t mix. But I was smitten with him, a gawky draft cross with the softest brown eyes that I had ever seen on a horse. The quietness that reached out to me when I looked into his eyes was the only reassurance I needed to make the leap and buy him. Besides, I had already named him Amadeus; once you name something, you have to keep it, right?
During those several months of searching for “the one,” something else was amiss in my life and not just the lack of a horse to call my own. Someone I loved very much was slipping away and the very foundation of my world was threatening to crumble. My grandmother had been in the hospital since the spring and, in the majority of that time, a ventilator machine acted as her lungs. My family held onto the hope that she would recover as we believe very firmly in miracles, but as time went on, it looked more and more bleak. My grandmother and I were very close and I wasn’t sure how I could cope if she were not around.
On December 1st, 2010, I purchased Amadeus. On December 3rd, my grandmother passed away. I felt lost, like a ship afloat without an anchor. There’s a certain loneliness that grips you, when you realize you’ve lost a part of yourself. I was left unsure of how to quell the storm of grief inside of me. Wherever I looked, all I could feel was the sting of my loss, but when I looked into the eyes of my horse, all I felt was peace. I clung to it, to the peace and to him. I had found something that wasn’t marred by loss, but instead was shining with what I had gained. I found a foundation once more, something to work for when I had lost hope and remind me that there is always light after darkness.
Our partnership is filled with flaws; Amadeus has had his baby moments and I’ve had my tears. It’s been three years since that December and we’ve both taught each other so much. On the bad days when I forget what hope looks like, he gives that quiet expression with those brown eyes, just to remind me that I’m looking straight at it. He may frustrate me, but he’s never let me down. And I’ll spend our whole lives trying to return the favor.
Here at Horse Nation, we believe that the best therapists are our own horses. We love sharing the stories of special equines — email yours to [email protected] to be featured in an upcoming edition of Back on Track “Horse Therapy.” Go Back on Track, and Go Riding!