It’s said that the bond between a horse and rider is one of the most profound connections one can experience. If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to share your life with a horse, you’ll understand the depth of this statement. Horses aren’t just animals; they become family, friends, and confidants. And when you lose one, the pain can be excruciating. This year, I have dealt with more than my fair share of loss – friends both human and equine. I hope that my experience can provide solace and guidance to those who find themselves in a similar situation.
The Unbreakable Bond
My horse, Jack, came into my life 8 years ago. I saw him whilst I was pregnant (and not in a position to buy a new horse!) and it was as if he waited for me to be ready. Two buyers pulled out and so he was back on the market and I just had to go and meet him, baby in arms. He came home 3 days later. We certainly grew together, forged a bond that transcended words, and shared countless adventures. Jack wasn’t just a horse to me; he has been a key part of my story.
The Loss That Shattered Me
When the inevitable day came, my world crumbled. The pain was visceral, an ache that seemed endless but then a total numbness occurred. I became numb with grief, and it felt like I’d never find my way back to the surface. Part of me thought it would just be easier to live in denial; picture him in the field and happy rather than actually gone and I sometimes I still do. I think that that is ok.
Allowing Myself to Grieve
The first step in healing from the loss of my horse was to allow myself to grieve. Society often tells us to hide our emotions, to be strong and stoic, but suppressing grief only prolongs the healing process. So, I cried. I sobbed. I let myself feel the immense pain of his absence. And you know what? It was okay. Grief is a testament to the love we had for our horses, and it’s essential to honour that love by acknowledging the depth of our sorrow. This is definitely a new lesson to me – a friend taught me “Crying is healing. Let yourself heal, Daisy.”
Grieving the loss of a horse is a unique experience that can be challenging for others to understand fully. While friends and family can provide emotional support, connecting with fellow equestrians who have faced similar losses can be especially comforting. Some people just won’t get it though and that is ok.
Hearing from people who also loved Jack helped massively – their stories and stories of how people saw us in such a beautiful way meant a lot. I had to honour the positive impact he had on not just me. Surely that is a legacy we can only dream of!
One piece of advice: if a friend is in this situation – never ask someone “What happened?” If they want to share they will but this is never a question to ask. A grief filled brain is full of doubts, confusions and what ifs and the noise is enough without having to explain or justifying it elsewhere.
Honouring Jack’s Legacy
As time passes, I realize that Jack’s legacy isn’t just about our shared moments; it is also about the lessons he taught me that I will carry forward with me. The journey we went through from young horse and terrified rider to HOYS contender and ready for adventures. The anxiety struggles of both horse and rider. I decide to honour his legacy by incorporating these lessons into my life and sharing them with others through my coaching and written work. When someone you love goes, you don’t learn to live without them, you learn to live with their love in a different way.
Losing a beloved horse is a heart-wrenching experience, and the pain may never fully subside. However, with time, support, and self-compassion, you can learn to carry your horse’s memory and find a way to move forward. Jack will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I am grateful for the time we had together. In sharing my story, I hope to remind others that they are not alone in their grief and a special horse never truly leaves you.
Rest in Peace Jackpot.