Editor’s Postcard: Finding Peace with My Senior Horse

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Treasuring Time with My Gunner

I love my old horse, Gunner. And yes, it’s true I love all my horses, but I hold a special tenderness for the old ones, and Gunner holds my heart like few others. He’s been struggling with his health for about a year now. I’d hoped to have a few more years of riding him, but I’m starting to accept that’s over. Riding Gunner made me feel young and carefree. His combination of power, high energy, and good-natured reason never failed to put me in a good mood. Riding him always made me feel like a kid again and took the stiff places in my own old body away. But Cushings and its resultant insulin dysregulation have wreaked havoc on his feet and asking him to carry me isn’t in his best interest.

The relationship I have with my horses changes when I no longer harbor expectations around their training or performance, the way I might do with the younger ones. When riding is no longer the focus, the time spent together feels like meditation, or prayer. When I groom Gunner or take him for a little walk through the fields, or just sit with him in his paddock or stall, I find a moment of peace. I slow my pace to match his and we both benefit from each other’s presence. Slowing down my world, being still for a moment, reminds me what’s important.  

When Gunner gazes at me, which he does often, I feel as though he’s saying, “Peace be with you,” and in that moment of connection he transfers calm right into my heart.  He often seems to be laughing, just a little, at my human foolishness running around busy and worried—he never fails to make me smile. I have no doubt he is extending my life as I care for him – lowering my blood pressure and easing my burdens even though he no longer carries the actual weight of my body.  I treasure every day we have together. 

I hope you enjoy our issue this month. I’m always moved emotionally by our Senior Horse Essay Contest. Reading the submissions is a privilege, and though I struggle to choose the winners, I relate to the love and appreciation people have for their older horses. I hope everyone who submitted an entry knows they’ve already won a prize by being fortunate enough to love a horse. 

See this article in the November/December 2023 online edition:

November/December 2023

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