I’m struggling of late. I have an application in front of me waiting for me to fill it out to buy another OTTB from a rescue organization. I also met someone who trains at at a prominent track on the west coast who is always looking for homes for his retired racehorses. Two possibilities for me, but the problem is I can’t take a step forward.
Harley turned 19 this year, and he’s doing so well health wise (knock on everything with wood) that I’m hoping for another ten years with him at the very least. The fact of the matter is he might not make it that long, and Chaco, my OTTB, would be so lost and stressed without him. And, it could go the other way. Chaco could leave us early, and Harley couldn’t handle to be alone at all. Together they’ve grown into quite the pair; both of them sharing alpha duties depending on where their strengths are. Why do I even think like this? After losing Shandoka, I think about this a lot, because they came through that loss with each other. If they didn’t have each other, it would have been so much harder. I don’t want either one of them to go through that alone. Yes, they have me, but having each other made the transition smoother.
We are the Three Musketeers now albeit with something missing. Yes, that is contradictory, but the something missing will always be Shandoka. He was such a huge, powerful presence in everything. Shandoka and Harley bonded immediately, and those two couldn’t stand to be away from one another. One time my friend Jessica said she would pony Harley back to the arena while I rode Shandoka in front of them. Harley would have none of it. He had to be with his best friend! Shandoka was Chaco’s first best friend. He taught Chaco how to play, and when Chaco was scared or not feeling well, he always stood with him. If Chaco decided to stand out in the rain or snow, Shandoka gave up the barn to be with him. For me, he always floored me with his presence. He knew exactly who he was, and he knew he was something special. He never should have let me in, but he did. He never let anyone else up on his back but me, and we went so far together. The thought of bringing in another horse seems overwhelming to me emotionally. I could never replace him in my heart, so bringing in another horse, why does it feel like that is what I’m doing?
Is it fair to bring in another horse when I still see signs of them mourning? Harley sleeps by Shandoka’s grave every night, and throws an absolute fit if Chaco stands on Shandoka’s side of the barn. Chaco stands by Shandoka’s grave all the time, and he can get quite aloof afterwards. Bringing in another horse may help them move past that.
Chaco had surgery, and he has a lot of cartilage damage. Maybe it’s best to keep it the way it is, because they are pretty mellow together. Chaco and Harley found their rhythm, and it’s a nice slow, beat.
Chaco will probably remain a trail horse, because it is much easier on his joints. Maybe it’s best to keep things the way they are, because if I bring in another thoroughbred, I know he and Chaco will be racing around, which could be hard on that stifle.
But, I love working with horses. I love developing that partnership. I love learning together, and I love the challenges they bring to my life.
I need to resolve this within myself I know. Harley could be thrilled by this, because then he wouldn’t have to fend off the constantly playful Chaco; someone else can run interference. I want to keep another thoroughbred from possibly going to the slaughterhouses if I can, and if I bring in another horse, I hope he and Chaco can help me show people how amazing thoroughbreds can be on the trail or as a ranch horse or at whatever someone decides to train them to do.
I keep staring at the blank application. I know what I want to say, but I can’t fill it out….yet.