I visited the Old Horse, Buddy, this week, just two times. I cannot say I feel quite right about it since for so many years, 30 to be exact, I have seen him almost daily. It’s hard for me to accept that I have basically put him “out to pasture.” Not really, for heavens sake, he’s got pasture mates, a stall, senior grain twice daily, expensive hay cubes, blankets, and attention. But it’s not me doing those chores, and I feel quite uncomfortable about that.
I just saw on Facebook that a friend retired her older horse to a small farm where she calls it his “forever home.” In other words, she put him out to pasture, too. It helped me to read her words about how happy she is, and how happy she believes him to be. I began to put into my head that Buddy is just fine; that he really doesn’t need me, nor does he love me. He is just a good old horse enjoying his later years of life with no stress (except for his love affair with Bella), and is probably happier than he has been in years.
Of course, who defines happy. the Old Horse, or me in my Old Woman human terms? I think that happiness is where one is. Am I happy in my home, yes. Would I be happy in another home, yes. Have I been happy in the many, many homes I’ve lived in, yes. So in my definition of happy, can I put that on the Old Horse. Can I equate his thought process with mine…that of an Old Woman? Sure, why not.
I have watched this Old Horse grow and age since he was two years old. He was a beautiful chestnut color, with white spots (as an Appaloosa should have), quite thin, and didn’t give a hoot about me. I was thrilled beyond words to have acquired this horse, who knew nothing except having been starved and uncared for. My attachment to him began the day he became mine, and I have loved him now for these past 30 years. He, on the other hand, has always been a bit aloof. He liked the feed I gave him, he liked being groomed, he liked being out in the pasture with the other horses, he liked his stall. He knew me, he nickered at me, but he didn’t “love” me in my human terms. Nor does he love me now. I’m okay with that, because I know I did everything I could for him in his life time, and I still had/have that emotional attachment we horse people get to our horses.
Today it was snowing and he and his pasture mates were out in the snow. The Old Horse was looking over the fence at another barn…I think he was looking for his old friends from our North Carolina farm. This new home he now lives in is very similar to our NC farm, and he had neighbors there he enjoyed chatting with over the fence. I wonder if his old brain is trying to bring back old memories? Why else would he continue to stare at the next door pasture? Or again, am I putting my Old Woman’s thought processes into his? I truly don’t know. I will dwell on that in a quiet afternoon.