Do you recognize these ears?
This is a very special view of these particular ears because it is a view I didn't think anyone would ever see again. These are Tessa's ears. I haven't said much about her lately because I have been feeling very superstitious about her. Things have been going well and I didn't want to jinx it. Or perhaps, it has just been such an emotional roller coaster with this mare that I couldn't allow myself to get my hopes up again.
This time last year, I was having very serious thoughts and discussions about putting Tessa down. I have agonized over whether I should try to breed her with no guarantee that she could carry a foal to term. I know there are thousands of unwanted horses flooding the market, but I also know just how hard it is to find a good horse. And Tessa is an exceptionally good horse. I was tempted to try breeding her if she couldn't be ridden, but it wasn't what I really wanted.
About a month ago, I decided to send her back to the trainer to see if we could get her going under saddle once again. Every day, I was expecting to get a call from him telling me she was lame and to come get her. After a few days, I did get a call and I started thinking again about euthanasia. However, when I went to visit her we found a twig embedded in the white line of her foot and once it was removed, she moved off sound again. She has been working well under saddle ever since, wearing a pair of hoof boots to protect her feet.
This afternoon, I rode Tessa myself. We were out for nearly two hours; up and down hills, through the mud, brush and trees. She did not put a foot wrong.
It is hard to say just what this ride meant for me. There was a time, six or seven years ago, that I actually thought about giving up horses. If you knew me well, you would know what a profound statement this is, but I had lost the fun of it for a time. The mare I had been riding for many years was growing too old and arthritic to continue; I had lost my own confidence in a very bad riding wreck. I was tired of the cruelty and deceit that is so rampant in the horse industry. It is the ubiquitous parallel to the kindness, love and generosity that are also rampant in the horse world.
When I stumbled on Tessa, I tried hard to talk myself out of buying her. She was everything I thought I didn't really want in a horse - a young, untrained, gaited, flashy paint - but there was something about her that just kept nagging at me. I can recognize quality when I see it, even if it is not what I think I want.
I think though, that I needed to work with a young horse again. I needed to find out if I still could or if I really should just hang up my boots and take up crochet. It's a good thing that Tessa turned out to be not just a good horse, but a truly exceptional and fun horse as well because I can't crochet to save my life and I don't really want to.
Tessa is a good example of why I don't try to make plans any more. I couldn't plan for her because I never envisioned her. Once I had her, I couldn't know that she would be so badly damaged in an instant of equine temper. My efforts to help her heal from her wounds brought Emma into my life and with her, of course, came Ramsey. I can't help but be grateful for that. These aren't the kinds of things that one can anticipate or plan for, they just have to be accepted, good or bad.
Until today, I didn't know if Tessa and I would ever ride together again. I am glad I didn't give up on her. I am glad that I didn't listen to some of the experts and put her down. I am glad I bought a young donkey to keep her company. I am glad I couldn't have planned any of this. I couldn't have done it and I would have missed out on a lot.
I don't know exactly where we go from here or what comes next. I don't know if Tessa will stay sound. What I do know, is that we had a really nice ride this afternoon and I am looking forward to bringing her home this weekend.