Once upon a time, there was a very quiet fourth grader who participated in way too many activities. She was in Girl Scouts (for what ended up being 9 years), ballet, jazz, tennis, and soccer. One day, her mom bought her a barn with toy horses to attach to her doll house. The next day her mom found a barn that offered riding lessons. The little girl was never the same.
I can see how dramatic that might sound, but it’s true. I started taking riding lessons constantly. Eventually all the rest of my “hobbies” fell by the way side except for dance and riding. I think that says a lot about what’s important to me. Oh yeah, by the way, I’m that little girl.
Like a lot of little girls, I wanted a pony. There was lots and lots of begging involved, but I got nowhere. I continued taking lessons for ages. When I was in the eighth grade, I applied to be apart of the International Baccalaureate program. My parents, having as much confidence in myself as I did at the time, told me if I got into the program they would get me a horse. To everyone’s shock, I was accepted. After my parents celebrated the hidden genius within their daughter, they also realized they had to follow up on a little promise they had made. So my freshman year of high school we started looking.
I know we looked at bunches of horses, but I don’t remember much about them. We took a trip to a barn in the middle of nowhere one weekend and that’s where we found him. His name was Big Al. He was a tall, fuzzy, tricolor paint with a mischievous gleam in his eye. The people selling him (4 or 5 men with beer bellies and coronas in hand) kept telling us all the things he couldn’t do which only made us all the more curious. He did everything for me he wouldn’t do for them. He couldn’t cross tie, ride English, jump things, or let people on him. So we tried all those things and he was perfect. Not long after our visit, he was all mine.
I changed his name to Alphonse Elric (which had been my plan no matter what the horse’s name was to begin with) and fell in love. The thing about horses is that you will fall in love. It’s inevitable. Al was my big, furry, 4 legged toddler. He was big and fussy and tested my patience constantly. He was always trying to out smart me and sometimes (a lot of the time..) he did. We had our ups and downs. We had great riding streaks as well as months where we made no progress. It was all a learning process. There was once a time when I had a month-long falling streak (that was my fault due to my lack of confidence). Every time I fell, Al would turn around and stop next to me and wait for me to get up. We were a team. We were the under dog, but still a team nonetheless.
In high school, I got bogged down by homework, insecurities, and things happening in my personal life. IB was hard and full of busy work. I couldn’t balance anything on my plate and riding took the back seat to everything else. I was extremely depressed. What always kept me going was the idea that when a boy I liked didn’t like me back, Al liked me. When girls gossiped about me, Al was there to talk to. When things got too heavy, Al was my support. He never bullied me or told me I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t too short or too chubby for him. He was the one thing in my life that stayed constant. He was there for me no matter what. Even when I didn’t get to see him for weeks, he treated me the same. I loved him something crazy.
Now that I’m in college and a bit older, I had to make a tough decision. Al was such a wonderful guy to me and my parents thought maybe it was time for Al to make another little girl feel special. To be honest, I wasn’t ready for that and I’m still not. We were on the look out for the perfect home and I hoped and prayed we never found one. Last Saturday I was laying in my room like a bum when my mom came into my room to tell me that someone was buying Al. It was a big shock to say the least. As she was talking I began pulling on my riding clothes. I spent the rest of the weekend with Al. There were a lot of tears and horse hugs. Right now I’m getting choked up thinking about how the next time I go out to the barn to ride, he won’t be there.
No matter what kind it is, loss is hard. Like I said, I still am not ready for him to be gone, but I don’t think I ever would have been. It’s hard to think that the one person who was there for me during all the tough times of my young, short life isn’t going to be around anymore. I miss him like nuts and I’m pretty heart broken. I feel like I’ve been broken up with only a million times worse. I promise I’m going to be back to my chipper, sarcastic self, but I think it’s going to take a good amount of time. Riding is the one thing in life that really frees me and reminds me to be confident in myself because I can do anything. I just wish my partner in crime would be there with me the next time I feel like I’m ready to fly.
So Al, if you’re reading this (oh, how I wish he was), know that I love you very very much. You’re still my best friend no matter where you go. You’re so near and dear to my heart and I miss you like you wouldn’t believe. Please take great care of your new little girl and make her feel super loved. Don’t give her such a hard time about the spray bottle though, you were such a bugger about that. I hope I get to see you again soon.
I’ll talk to you all soon though. Thanks for making it through this novel of a post. You can expect some pretty cool and collaborative fashion posts in the near future. Get excited!
-Tara Joy ❤