Friends for life

EQUUS - - Eq Letters -

I was so pleased to read of Heather Bene­dict’s de­ci­sion to re­main loyal to her equine com­pan­ion and forgo, for the time be­ing, the path so many oth­ers choose on their way to com­pet­i­tive rid­ing “ca­reers” (“Paid in Full,” True Tale, EQUUS 448). Heather’s com­mit­ment to her horse Eros re­minds me of my own ex­pe­ri­ence with my dres­sage and event horse, Babes.

I re­tired Babes from jump­ing at the age of 22 be­cause of early arthritic changes in her an­kles. She was mov­ing fine, and we con­tin­ued to com­pete in dres­sage, but I wanted to min­i­mize wear

and tear for the years to come. I, too, was in­un­dated with “ad­vice” to dis­pose of her and ac­quire a more com­pe­ti­tion-wor­thy mount. Be­cause I could af­ford to keep only one horse, I did, for a time, con­sider do­ing this. But the thought of rid­ding my­self of a horse I loved sim­ply be­cause she was no longer com­pet­i­tively use­ful made me feel ruth­less.

I never re­gret­ted the de­ci­sion to keep Babes. In­deed, by the time she passed on at the age of 36, I was pro­foundly grate­ful that such a mag­nif­i­cent bond with this won­der­ful horse had been a part of my life. And I am re­lieved, eth­i­cally, that af­ter all the years she put in for me, I re­cip­ro­cated in kind and granted her the re­tire­ment that was her right ---one with pur­pose, mean­ing and love.

Like Heather, I never pro­gressed as far along in com­pe­ti­tion as I would have liked---but that am­bi­tion seems triv­ial to me now. Horses don’t give a fly’s poop for tro­phies or so-called “rid­ing ca­reers,” and it sad­dens me to see peo­ple dis­pos­ing of oth­er­wise won­der­ful an­i­mals who are un­able to aid them in those pur­suits.

I think Heather would agree with me that, while tro­phies gather dust and show re­sults fade in im­por­tance over time, re­la­tion­ships cul­ti­vated with love, com­mit­ment and self-sac­ri­fice add lay­ers of mean­ing to our lives. It may take the life­time of a horse to re­al­ize it, but af­ter­ward, we see that through it all we have reached a no­bler un­der­stand­ing of what is re­ally im­por­tant. The ex­pe­ri­ence it­self is some­thing pre­cious to be trea­sured. It is a gift. Sue Lef­fel Green Bay, Wis­con­sin

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