... "Go as far as you can see. When you get there, you will be able to see further." ~ Thomas Carlyle ~
We cannot always see the light at the end of the tunnel; especially on those days when life has dealt us a blow and we are smack dab in the abyss of that dark moment.
I was involved in a freak riding accident once that, unfortunately, claimed the horse's life. Though I was unhurt physically, I was left devastated and emotionally shattered for a while. I recall lying in bed the night of the accident, staring up at the ceiling, tears streaming steadily down the sides of my face while searching the plaster work for the silver lining to the dark cloud that hovered. There was, in that moment, none to be found. It was then that I promised myself that one day there would be a silver lining, and I would see it. Emily's death would not be in vain. I would learn something from the episode and be better for the experience ... somehow.
A week later I was back in the saddle, and started the long, slow journey of recovering my nerve over fences (and trotting poles). My triumph came, a month later, over a course of six small jumps. With that under my belt I decided enough was enough and and wanted to refine my riding skills through the art of dressage, something I'd always wanted to do anyway. Fortunately, Caydon had a nice little appy/hanno gelding named Vincent, who had an eventing background and had recently moved in, and I was offered the chance to lease and even show him that summer. I overcame my aversion to spotted horses quickly -- he looked like an appy but could move like a warmblood -- and was just what I needed to get back on the road to self-confidence. We liked each other and he seemed to know I needed his special brand of charm. We earned a couple of ribbons at local dressage shows. We had fun.
And then one day things were about to change again. It was four months since that dreadful day and the night of my promise. During a lesson Linda, my coach, told me about a horse, a Thoroughbred mare, that was moving into the barn who might be a nice part-board opportunity for me. Would I be interested? "Sure, why not?" I said.
Two weeks later Murphy moved into the barn -- and my heart. I remember the first time I saw her -- she was cross-tied in the aisle, her owner, Diane, grooming her. Murphy was gorgeous, and it wasn't just because of her colouring -- white/grey with a silver mane and tail -- I could tell even as she just stood there that she had moxy. She looked at me with that all-seeing equine eye as if she already knew we had a future together. In that moment, the idea that I might part-board her simply overwhelmed me.
I remember the first ride. Diane was riding Murphy while I was having a lesson on another horse. Linda suggested we exchange horses so I could try the mare out. I got on her; she felt like more horse than I'd ever ridden. Linda guided me through the process of trying out this horse that both impressed and intimidated me at the same time. She was very familiar with Murphy and her quirks, having backed her for Diane some 10 years before, so was able to provide some much appreciated insight. I remember how nervously Diane looked on as I did my best to respond to Linda's instructions, trying not to upset the horse or distress her owner. I wanted it to work out so badly.
Ultimately Murphy and I came to an understanding -- one that would last an amazing two years. She literally, and figuratively, became the silver lining to that cloud that had hovered so ominously that warm spring night two and a half years earlier. I have so much to be grateful to her for, not the least of which was how she prepared me for that twinkle of knowing in the vast silver lining -- Shakespeare (Bear) -- a horse to finally call my own.
Dear Murphy was humanely euthanized in November 2005, at the age of 13, after being diagnosed with a heart tumour. Once again, I looked to the silver lining, not knowing where or when it would reveal itself. Two months later it was there in the form of Shakespeare -- that was two years ago this month. And Diane? Well, my silver lining became hers too ... she part-boards Shakespeare. :-)