My Heart Will Always Remember

There’s never a good time to say “good-bye” and nothing really makes it easier.  Even when it comes to the last “so long, pal” for a horse that had already disappeared out of my life before.  I grieved his loss for 15 years and when I came to terms with the fact that he was likely already dead, I finally moved on and allowed myself to heal.  I didn’t get to say it to him in person when he left the first time but when my heart started to feel better, I whispered it to Knight in the dreams he visited me in.  Not a day passed that I didn’t think of him and silently think to myself all that I had accomplished because he had touched my life.  He was my angel.  He taught me to spread my wings, how to fly and in the end, how to soar.  Because of him, I’m still here. (read our story by clicking here)

After he magically reappeared in my life last month, I tried to prepare myself for the inevitable, the thought of losing him again.  Surely it wouldn’t be as difficult.  I’d already learned to live without him, I could do it again.  Especially since I had one last chance for closure, I was given the gift of time to say that “good-bye” that I never got to say before.  Tonight, I can honestly say that closure was not what I was looking for.  What I needed was eternal life.  I needed an old, decrepit horse to live forever.

When I got the call at 11:30 this afternoon, I left work and rushed to the barn.  I made it there by 11:45 or so and the vet was there soon after.  Knight’s vitals were checked and his breathing was labored, his head bobbed, he dripped sweat, his heart raced and he was in obvious pain.  A rectal examination found that he had a severe intestinal blockage about 90 feet into his intestines.  He was tubed with mineral oil and treated for colic.  I asked the vet if we were doing everything we could and he said that surgery wasn’t recommended due to his age but we could try a “belly tap”.  I agreed and the vet inserted a needle into Knight’s stomach.  He explained that the fluid he would be drawing out should be a wheat color and any other color would show signs of other problems that could have led up to the intestinal blockage.  When he pulled back on the plunger, the syringe filled with blood.  Knight had bled internally for probably quite a while.  The vet said that the gut is one of the first things to fail when a horse is bleeding inside and that was the case with Knight.  An IV was administered and Knight received injections of a pain medication equivalent to Morphine and injections of sedatives to try to calm him down.  The vet left and after about an hour, I got worried and I thought he should come back out and that maybe we should put him down so he wouldn’t suffer.  While I thought that I had come to terms with it, the vet thought otherwise and he said that he just couldn’t stop when I wasn’t ready and he didn’t think Knight was yet either.  He hung more bags of fluid and left again.

Around 5, I finally left the barn and Larry stayed with Knight while I went to get the boys from school.  On the way to the barn, I tried my best to explain what was happening and that I thought it was time for the boys to tell Knight “good-bye”.  Paris was heartbroken and refused to leave the barn.  He just kept saying over and over, “I’m not leaving so you might as well get it out of your head.  I’m sleeping here with you and Knight.”  After much struggle, we finally got a bawling Paris to leave the barn.

I settled in my chair, right inside Knight’s door, resigned to my post until the time that Knight got better or he left me.  I would not leave him in his time of need, I planned to see this through, no matter where it was going.  That horse never left me when I needed him and it was about time that I paid him back for saving me all those times.

Just after 8, one of Knight’s former owners came to the barn to see him.  She had seen my post on Facebook and rushed out to the barn.  Thankfully, she was there or I would have been all alone.  I was blessed to have her there for Knight and I, all the way through the end.  Some may think it odd that I had a perfect stranger sitting with me but this wasn’t about me, it was about Knight.  She was a part of his life just as much as I and she loved him just as much.

At 9, Knight became listless and he began to back around his stall.  At 9:30, I was at my wit’s end and I thrust a carrot at him and told him, “You HAVE to do this!  Eat this and get better right now!”.  He looked at me like a scorned child and he leaned out and reluctantly took the carrot and ate it.

By 10, exhaustion had set in and I had finally come to terms with the fact that the situation wasn’t improving, it was getting worse.  Knight could barely keep his eyes open and he was starting to fall against the stall.  I made the horrible decision to end his suffering and I called the vet back out.  He said he’d be at the barn in 40 minutes.

I guess Knight was paying attention and he was waiting for me to come to terms with what was happening.  Within minutes of me calling the vet, he moved to the front of his stall, directly in front of the door and as close to us as he could get and he laid down.  He rubbed his head across his soft shavings one last time, he closed his eyes and stretched out his legs and then he was gone.  He took his last breath as I held his head and stroked his face and as his former owner stroked his neck.  Both of the little girls that he raised were with him when he left.

My angel left me for the last time tonight.  At 10:15, he laid down and was gone.  I think that even in his final hours, he thought of me and he tried to protect me.  He fought hard, I think to give me time to be ready.  And when I finally thought I was, when I had finally made up my mind, he spared me the pain of following through.  He waited until I was ready and when I was, he was gone.

The heart doesn’t forget and mine will always remember a beautiful, black stallion who kept angel wings hidden under his mane.

I think my son said it best.  He said,

“You know mom, when Knight dies, it’s never going to be dark again.” I asked him why and he said, “It will be impossible. When he’s in heaven his star is going to shine too bright.”

I’m already looking to the heavens and searching for the brightest star where I know my old fella will be shining brightly and watching over me for the rest of my life.  Guess I’ll have to be investing in a telescope.  How else will I solve all of life’s problems?

When the Past Meets the Future

Never in a zillion years could I ever have imagined what happened today.  It’s something more than I could dream up.  Waiting in my mailbox, I found my past and my future, mingled together among the junk mail and bills.

If you’re lost already, you had better stop now and read my blog post called “The Heart Doesn’t Forget“.

Today, I received 2 large envelopes from the Arabian Horse Registry.  One was Knight’s registration papers and the other was Ziggy’s.  In that moment, I was filled with a flood of emotion and I became a wee bit overwhelmed.  Never would I think this possible, yet it happened.  Sitting side by side in my mailbox, was my past and my future.  The papers of the horse that was my salvation, my rock and my best friend for 13 years were gently creased into the papers of the horse that brought me back to life.  Losing Knight all of those years ago was devastating and it took 15 years for me to get over it.  Just when I started to heal and I let a new horse in my life, Knight came back home to me.

I’ve tried to sit here and write about what it was like the day that I brought him home and each time, I find myself deleting everything that I wanted to say.  It’s so hard to go back to what I felt but to sum it up as shortly as I can, when I first saw a photo of what Knight looks like now, I vomited.  I always remembered him as the young, chubby and stunning black stallion.  What I found a few weeks ago was worse than a nightmare.  The horse that I loved more than life itself, was just a shell of what he used to be.  Where glistening blue-black hair used to shine, large patches of grey hair and bald spots stood.  Where muscle and fat were abundant, I could now count every single rib that he had.  His backbone protruded, his eyes were both infected and he had a large, open wound that was so infected, proud flesh had already set in.  Knight was in such bad shape, his back legs would fold as he tried to stand.  I never could have prepared myself for any of that…

Knight is receiving the very best of care.  He stays in a nice stall, with thick, cushy shavings atop a rubber-matted floor.  He’s always laid down to sleep and seeing him stretch out in his shavings gives me hope.  He has all the Brome hay that he can eat, he’s fed Equine Senior 2x a day by the barn staff and 1x a day by me.  He’s on ProBios (a probiotic) to help with his digestion and he gets a gallon baggie of alfalfa pellets in the evening when I go see him.  We wash his eyes out with a sponge soaked in warm water, he gets brushed and then we do 10 minutes of hydrotherapy before we doctor his front leg.  Once we’re done with that, we take a walk to the back of the barn so Knight can stand under the shade of the tree while he eats grass.  For the past 3 days, he’s got to go out in the pasture with me and the boys and he’s really enjoyed that.  He gets hugs, kisses, carrots, peppermints, apples and horse treats every day.

The vet came out and sedated Knight and found that his teeth were in horrible condition.  He had a large infection from where his teeth were puncturing the upper and lower arcade of his mouth.  His teeth were floated but because they were so bad, we will likely have to re-do it in a few months.  A fecal test showed he had worms so the sample was sent off for further testing.  He was wormed, received antibiotics and his wound was checked out.  It will be months before we know if we can reverse the damage that’s already been done.

We have a very, very tough road ahead of us and I don’t know that I can save him.  It’s horrible to think that way but each day I wake up, I wonder if Knight woke up, too.  Tonight on the way home from the barn, Paris told me that we needed a miracle and that God had a lot of work to do.  I said, “Yes.  We need God, prayers, miracles and angels.”.  Paris said, “And faith, Mom.  Don’t forget faith.”.  My 9-year-old is wise beyond his age.

Me and the boys have talked about the possibility that we can’t save Knight, that he may be too far gone.  For now, we will ignore what is staring us in the face.  Instead, we are planning the celebration that we will have next June 7th when Knight will turn 29 and Paris will turn 10.  There will be a huge to-do, party hats, carrot cake and one girl who will smile to herself knowing just how far she’s come.

**The photos below have been edited.  They were taken on July 31st, 2013 by my friend and very talented photographer, Jennifer Hague of FixYourImages Photography and by her amazing boyfriend, Aaron Starr (individual photo credits are below each photo).  These photos weren’t meant for the public, they were taken so I would have a photo to remember our last days together.  For my benefit, Jennifer did some amazing editing and she worked hard to make Knight look how I’d like to remember him.  Thank you to my friend Jennifer and to her lucky man Aaron for capturing the love between a girl and her horse.  Your gift is something that I will treasure for a lifetime.**

Photo courtesy of FixYourImages Photography.

Photo courtesy of FixYourImages Photography.

Photo courtesy of FixYourImages Photography.

Photo courtesy of FixYourImages Photography.

Photo courtesy of Aaron Starr.

Photo courtesy of Aaron Starr.

Photo courtesy of FixYourImages Photography.

Photo courtesy of FixYourImages Photography.

My Knight in Shining Armor Returns

Two days ago, my knight in shining armor rode back into my life via a crappy, rented horse trailer.  It’s hard to picture a hero riding in via a rusty, old trailer but that’s just what happened, believe it or not.  It was at that moment, my life changed again.

It’d been 7 years since my hand touched the warm muzzle of a special black Arabian stallion and it had been 15 years since I had lost him (view the story by clicking here).  When I found out that he would be entering my life again after all of this time, I couldn’t believe it was happening.  Actually, I didn’t believe it until he was standing in the stall staring back at me.  I couldn’t sleep, I could barely eat and I definitely couldn’t shut up about him.  But, it wasn’t until my hand touched his warm muzzle again that I truly believed that it really did happen.  My best friend, my savior, my love, was back.

When I first laid eyes on him again, it was very difficult.  No matter how many times I played it out, I never thought that I would be hit with so much emotion.  I knew it would be hard but I didn’t really comprehend just how hard.  My heart and my memory pictured a beautiful blue-black horse that was fat, happy and healthy.  What met me on Saturday was an old, greying, broken-down horse that appeared to be clinging to his last days on Earth.  Where fat once was abundant, sharp bones protruded.  Where large black eyes once looked back at me, a lifeless, hazy eye fought a battle with mucus.  His face had lost large areas of pigment and instead of being solid black, it was now a grey and white spotted mess.  If it hadn’t have been for the marking on his leg and the small spot on his forehead, I wouldn’t have recognized him.  That realization was devastating.  My best friend was old and wasn’t long for the world.

I haltered Knight and led him to the trailer, feeling joy and great sadness simultaneously.  I felt happy to be leading my best friend to the horse trailer that would bring him back into my life.  I felt sad for the owner that would be losing him after all of these years.  He’d owned him for 15 years and I know that he loved him very much.  I felt sadness for the old horse that limped behind me and I longed for the days when I had to tell him “easy” as we walked somewhere.  Knight loaded up like a dream and we bid farewell to his owner.

He’s been with me for two days now.  I know that he remembers me and he proves it by banging his door when he hears me talking.  As I enter the stall, with halter in hand, he comes over to me and gets anxious for me to take him outside to eat grass.  If I don’t move fast enough, he nudges his stall door with his nose saying, “Hey pal, let’s go!”.  We walk through the pasture, side by side, best friends reunited.

Sometimes, we pause there in the field and we look over at each other.  It seems like we are both in as much disbelief as the other.  I reach my hand over to push over the mane that had always tried to part on the wrong side.  My fingers touch the disobedient strands and Knight puts his head back down to eat the grass under him.  Our moment passes and we both are comforted in knowing that we are right there together.  Even though our bodies were apart for all of this time, I think our souls stayed entwined together.

People have said that I’m “admirable” or an “angel” for bringing Knight back home with me after all of this time, especially considering his health.  I’m no hero.  I’m simply a girl trying to repay a horse that saved her life countless times.  With him around, I was able to fight through all of life’s struggles.  It was because of him that I woke up each day.  It was because of him that I stayed away from drugs.  He was also the reason I laid down the pistol that would end my suffering.  In the back of my mind, I thought that if I took my life, I wouldn’t end up in heaven where I knew my angel would be when he left the world.  To say that he saved me is an understatement.

For whatever time that we may have remaining, we will find comfort in each other.  We will walk through the field of grass, lit by the falling sun.  Together we will fight, just as we’ve always done.  Our remaining moments may not be substantial in the way that a clock ticks or in the way that one day is replaced by another.  Our remaining moments aren’t for right now.  They will last an eternity.

Me and my old horse SG Black Knight.

The Heart Doesn’t Forget…

Try as you may, it’s impossible to get over one monumental moment in your life.  You can ignore it and pretend that it doesn’t exist but somehow, it’s always there, in the back of your mind and weighing on your heart.  They say that true love comes along but once.  For me, it’s come along more than that.  They say that there is one soul mate out there but for me, I know that there are more.  Problem with all of this is that I just have to be different from “the norm” or “what’s supposed to be”.

Fifteen years ago, I lost my very best friend.  While everyone is quick to imagine my best friend dying or moving away, my story is different.  Fifteen years ago, my best friend was taken from me and he was sold while I was away visiting my mom.

Many of my readers are personal friends of mine, who know about my past and my childhood.  But for each that knows my story, there is one that doesn’t.  To sum it up, my childhood was terrible thanks to the pummeling fists and lashing words of my step-dad.  When I was called a “stupid bitch” or I was punched, I’d gather my composure and I would run to the solace of my best friend.  When I was recovering from surgery to repair my face after my step-dad kicked it in, I had a best friend that didn’t laugh at me when he saw me.  He accepted me for who I was, just a girl.  Together, we could do anything.  He was my rock, my love and my everything.  My best friend was a black Arabian stallion.  While so many of my friends were dreaming of beautiful, galloping horses, I lived the dream.  With him, I was indestructible.  With him, I could pick myself up and ride off into the sunset.

For 13 years, I had my best friend by my side and then one day, he was gone.  His disappearance was one of the cruelest things I’ve ever had to make it through.  Hell, it was even worse than a broken face.  Throw all the horrible words at me, smash my face into a bloody pulp, stab me in the back with a pitchfork… none of that was worse than losing my horse.

After I found out about my husband’s affair, I grabbed my son and I headed to visit my mom out-of-state.  While I was gone, my ex decided that it was time to liquidate some assets and the first thing that he started with was my horse.  MY HORSE.  The horse that I had raised, the horse that I halter broke, that I broke to ride, that I trained and that I even went on to win at The American Royal with.  I came home and my horse was gone.  I called the Registry immediately and I told them that he had been stolen.  I told them that I could prove that I was out-of-state and that I hadn’t signed any papers transferring him over.  I begged to know the name of the person that bought him but they couldn’t tell me anything.  Then they told me that because of how I had added my husband’s name to the registration papers, I had sealed my fate and everything was legal.  Sadly, it was true.

Of course, my husband wasn’t forthcoming with any information on who bought my horse so I watched and waited for his ownership to be transferred.  The minute that it happened, I searched for phone numbers so I could call the owner but I couldn’t get anywhere.  All I had was a name, a name that haunted me every moment of every day.  Years passed and I kept searching.

In 2005, 7 years after he was sold, I finally found a phone number for the man who purchased Knight.  I played out the conversation in my mind a billion times and finally one day I called him.  The man on the other end of the line was as nice as could be.  He listened to my story and then he told me to “come on out and visit”.  I loaded up and was there in an instant.

As I walked into the barn that day, the dust particles caught in the sun’s rays and they twinkled like stars.  When the stall door slid open and I laid my eyes on him, I could see that he recognized me.  When I leaned my hand out for him to smell me, he pushed away and walked past it, directly up to me.  He looked me in the eye and in an instant, his neck stretched out and his head draped across my shoulder and he hugged me, just like he had done a billion times before.

Walking away from the barn that day was the hardest thing.  His owner loved him and they were happy.  I tried as hard as I could to be happy for them but I couldn’t.  My heart ached.

All of these years have passed and I couldn’t forget about my beloved horse and the chunk of my heart that he took with him when he left.  I thought of him often and told anyone that would listen just how amazing he was.  Because no other horse could ever compare, I never owned another one.  Nothing would ever be the same.

In January, all of that changed when a beautiful and obnoxious Arabian colt came into the world.  It changed because I allowed it.  When I heard that he was coming, I asked my mom if I could have him.  The colt, was a great-grandson of my best pal.  I told myself that a horse would be nice now and I promised myself that enjoying one would never mean that I loved Knight any less.  The day the colt was born, I couldn’t believe it.  Not only did he come out a stud but he was also black, just like his great-grandfather.  He was perfect.

We picked Ziggy up on a rainy day in May.  From the moment my hand touched him, I knew that my life would never be the same.  It was like Knight came back to me.  The feeling was mutual and we bonded instantly.  While life is insane and incredibly hectic now, it is finally complete.  That was, until today.

Out of nowhere, I got a call today from Knight’s current owner.  He said that he needed to find a home for him and he thought that I would be a good fit.  He said “come get him”.  What?  What just happened?  Is this some type of joke?  I said, “He’s still alive?”.  It’s all I could think to say.  For the whole conversation, I was in shock.  What?  After all these years, he can come home to me?

When I hung up the phone, I was still in shock.  And then, it hit me like Hurricane Katrina.  I was devastated.  How could something that I dreamed of and longed for cause me so much pain?  How could the thought of being reunited with my best friend be anything but joyous?  And then, the tears came.  Sobs that shook my body and made my hands tremble and my knees give way when I tried to stand.

After 15 years away, my boy can come home to me?  What for?  To die?  He’s 28 and not in the best of health… so what the hell am I doing by agreeing to pick him up?

I have to take deep breaths and slowly count to 10… and then 1,000.

Yes, I am bringing him home with me.  Yes, I’m bringing him home to die.  Yes, we don’t have much time.  But more importantly, yes, my best friend is coming home.  After all, it’s the way it always should have been.

To every girl that waits for her “Knight in Shining Armour”, keep the dream alive.  I had given up but now, my “Knight” is coming home.  Hang in there SG Black Knight.  We’ll be together before we know it.  Our story will have the ending that it was always meant to have.  We began our lives together and so we shall now end it that way.  Our final chapter has only begun…

To see photos of our reunion, visit: http://www.fixyourimages.com/the-heart-doesnt-forget-sg-black-knight-returns-to-his-best-friend-a-tale-of-an-unstoppable-love-bond-between-owner-horse/#comment-165

Riley Williams, 16, missing in Omaha since 5/26/13

Please share!!  Riley Williams is a 16-year-old boy, missing in Omaha, Nebraska.  Media and police aren’t interested in finding him because they believe he’s a “runaway”.  Riley suffers from a depressive medical condition and he is on medication but he hasn’t had it since he disappeared on 5/26/13.