Four Days

Two weekends ago should've been my two year anniversary with Runkle. I think what's incredible about that statement is it felt like our time together stretched much longer than two years.

Day one: Runkle

Every day I spend with Indy, the residual grief from Runkle's passing cracks and flakes away. I find joy in doing my normal every day activities again. When I think of him now, I don't cry over his loss anymore. The presiding emotion is usually guilt.

Day one: Indy

I've been staring my guilt in the face, trying to understand where it came from and why it's looking at me like that, so accusatory. In mid August I took Indy to his 'first show' and jumped him in a field he had never been in before. I rode him outside after two weeks of stall rest without wearing full battle armor. I didn't miss Runkle at all, and for that I feel guilty.

I don't miss his unpredictability. I don't miss his myriad of injuries because he refused to chill out in the field. I don't lunge or suit up in my cross country vest for every ride. I don't even know where my neck strap is, and I never rode Runkle without it. I find myself planning fun trail rides for the fall: I want to hit some hunter paces and maybe even go to the beach.

Adorable bonnet, thanks to Aimee!!

Do you know how fun it is to get on your horse and not worry he's going to plant you into the ground like a carrot? Indy leads without a chain, is pleasant in the stall, friendly to his herdmates and has a steady, workmanlike demeanor.

This past weekend for my birthday my trainer was away on vacation as well. The thought of both of us being away and Runkle being 'alone' (in quotes because I keep him at an excellent boarding barn so he's never alone) would've tied me up in knots. I would've been fretting the entire time, struggling to piece together people to ride him and check up on him while I was gone.

Instead of all that I had the best ride ever on Thursday, groomed Indy, kissed his nose, wrote a note that I was out of town and left. I had a wonderful, stress free vacation. On Tuesday I came back, after he had four days off, and rode my horse. I didn't fly a kite on a lunge line or call my next of kin. He was a little rusty but happy and ready to work.

Runkle never got four days off in a row. Ever. Even when I broke my stupid pinky I used ALL my savings to try and keep him in work. Just two days off made me nervous; I wrung my hands and waited for the call that he had broken all four of his legs out in the field.

I'm incredibly stubborn, and I never would have given up on Runkle. I would have made it work. I was obsessive and not always happy but we were surviving and making progress. My life is better now with Indy. I loved Runkle, and I'll always love Runkle. That doesn't mean I have to miss him. The grief and guilt over him ebs, and what's left is hope, peace, and (I'll admit it!) a little bit of relief.

I admire the people who are strong enough to let go of horses. I didn't have the strength to admit that I wasn't having fun anymore and that maybe I should give up. Even typing that makes my blood curl. I hate giving up. But sometimes I wish I would. Giving up doesn't have to be as bad as it sounds, because an ending allows for the beginning of something new. Something better.


  1. hugs girl <3 Runkle was a special horse who had a lot to offer and you did so much better for him than probably many would. he was lucky to have found you! but i'm also so happy that you have Indy now. there's something so beautiful in the simplicity of just being able to sit back and enjoy the horse!

  2. I love this post as bittersweet as the message might be. I'm so happy for you every time I see a photo of you smiling SO big with Indy. I just love you guys together!

  3. There is nothing wrong that. In my weird hippy way, I believe the universe does what we need it to do. Losing Runkle was horrible, but it was what you needed to find Indy. The struggles with Runkle make you appreciate Indy's good qualities. There is a lot to be said about that and you shouldn't feel guilty about it. (Easier said than done, I know.)

  4. This post gives me all the feels. Well done.

  5. It's such a complicated web of emotions. Totally get it.You make me want to write a post about it.

  6. I can relate to this on so many levels. Hugs girl.

  7. Hugs to you and Indy. I'm glad you're having fun. And it's totally understandable to love Runkle without necessarily missing him. I'm glad the grief and guilt are slowly going away. And doubly glad for new beginnings!

  8. I feel like things generally happen for a reason. So while I'm so SO sorry about what happened with Runkle, I'm really happy for you that you have Indy in your life now.
    I have two that I gave up on, and I feel pretty guilty. I could have done more for them, tried harder. Maybe. I miss them, and I feel guilty for not making it work. But I'm much happier without them around. And so is my checking account! So while the circumstances are the same, I think the feelings are. I get you.

  9. I appreciate the fact you wrote this post - I don't think it is an easy thing for anyone to admit but I believe there are a lot of people who have been in similar circumstances. I am glad you are starting to feel like your normal "self" now and the guilt is slowly fading away - you did your best by Runkle and that is something to be proud of.

  10. i am glad you are happy and content with Indy! You deserve it. What a roller coaster Runkle must have been (and I know you miss him don't feel guilty enjoying Indy, you can do both, miss him and enjoy Indy!) I just started following your blog weeks before you lost Runkle :( Reading all you had to do with him makes me realize you scored big time with Indy. Enjoy, remember the good times with Runkle and rejoice in the specialness that is Indy!

  11. I'm really impressed you wrote this post. I think a lot of people struggle with horses they don't enjoy/feel safe on and think they need to for some reason. It's so much nicer when you actually just enjoy your horse. I'm glad you have Indy now.

  12. I'm a newer reader, but I can so appreciate your different journeys with both Runkle and Indy. Just because you've found something special, doesn't mean memories will fade. There will always been the good stuff to remember or laugh about! Can't wait to hear more about Indy's path with you.

  13. Uh, trail and beach ride adventures? Where do I sign up?! It sounds like you've got a good and different thing going on now - sometimes we need that change

  14. This resonates so much with me - I feel the same guilt. I had a middle aged thoroughbred who was topping out his abilities at 3rd level dressage. I couldn't bring myself to part with him (I had him for 11 years!), but he was not going to be what I wanted, and a second horse was out of the question. He died from a freak issue with zero warning a little over two years ago. The guilt over being relieved that I could pursue a new partner was and is overwhelming. I'm glad I'm not alone in my guilt.


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