Over the Rainbow bridge...
Updated: Mar 8, 2019
Losing a horse is never easy, whether the horse was put to sleep due to an irreversible injury or died peacefully of old age, without a doubt, it's tough. Personally I've lost three horses over this wonderful decade I've been riding, one adorable Shetland pony named Henry- who's cheeky personality was enough to put a smile on your face even on the rainiest of days, and two horses, who I've mentioned once before, Red and Midnight.
It's important to note I'm not claiming to be a psychologist with this post, but I want to tell my story in the hope that it helps someone else cope with the loss of an animal. Every person is different, and will have their own method's to coping with these circumstances, so this is not a “must-do” list but simply a guide to what helped me cope. Just take what you find useful and ignore the rest. Losing Henry was difficult but nothing could've prepared me for the loss of Red and Midnight, these were two horse's I had ridden for over a decade. I had loved and looked after them as if they were my own until one morning, without warning, they were both put to sleep. I didn't know how to feel, think or cope. All I could do was take each hour as it came and deal with how I felt in each singular moment. Anyhow here are my top tips to getting over a loss... 1. Cry... I'm quite a closed book when it comes to showing vulnerable emotions but I still allowed myself to cry when in private (usually in my car when driving home alone). This in turn allowed me to open up in front of my family where I quite literally broke down numerous times. They were always there for me with a cuddle and listened to my every word and each outburst was a weight off my shoulders.
2. Take some time for yourself... If you need a break from the industry that's fine, sometime's you need to give yourself time apart from the things you love to remember exactly how much you love them. I did, I left my job as a groom and stepped away completely. I didn't know what the future held, how long I'd be away for but I knew I needed time for my heart to mend.
3. Don't leave altogether... After losing Red and Midnight the temptation to give up completely was overwhelming but please don't - I can guarantee you it'll only make things harder for when you do decide you're ready to enter the world again. In the time you stopped riding, you'll loose your confidence, your passion and you'll fall out of the routine of being around horse's.
4. Get back in the saddle... Go to a riding school, borrow a friends horse or become a sharer. Either way, you'll instantly feel connected again and start to remember why you love the sport.
5. Don't feel foolish... It could take days, months or even years to fully get over the loss of any animal. Even now when I look at picture's of Henry, who passed away 7 year's ago, a lump comes to the back of my throat. You can learn to control this feeling, now that lump is just a whirlwind of memories coming back to the front of my mind. It can, in turn, become a happy feeling.
If you've lost a horse or pet and you have any tips or if this post has helped you in any way please let me know your thoughts.