I would have never considered writing an open letter before, but I know how many girls out there feel this pain. Hopefully this can help you make your decision as I needed help making mine.
There's no feeling quite like a dusty night when the sun goes down at the Lawrence County Fairgrounds. Friday nights were our horse shows and the day started out with trailers moving in, horses whinnying, foot steps backing off trailers, speakers being tested, and what I've been waiting for.. the announcement booth was ready. I usually try to keep myself closer to the top because I get so impatient to run. I tie Whiskey up to the trailer and make sure he has enough hay so he doesn't dig a hole in the damn ground. I don't like to saddle too early, I can't handle the anxiety of waiting, so I saddle quickly before my slot, you know, then I'm anxious about being late. What else is new. "Ashley in the hole, Hailey on deck, Tessa you're up..", God do I miss hearing that..
Looking back at pictures I took when I first got you, my skin starts to sting because of the cold. That winter was so cold, but it didn't stop me from coming to see you everyday. You were so little - the sweetest 2 year old. When I moved him to my barn he was the only horse, I would hold his head until he fell asleep in my arms.
Looking at pictures now that don't involve you, my skin starts to sting because I miss you. I miss our adventures alone, and how many times you scared me, made me proud, nervous. I have a beautiful scar on my right arm from a cold fall day of chasing cows in the pasture. Apparently you got too excited and wanted to chase them yourself? That was the first and last time you ever bucked me off.
It's not like you were making me any money, we would never place, but that's okay. Hell, we paid $600 for you. I always told myself I'd never be that girl to sell her horse when I go to school. I'd also never be the girl to ask for money when I needed it, this is where those two statements collide. I was constantly buried in vet bills and hay bills. I was 19 working 4 jobs, I just couldn't financially keep up. It kept pounding me right back down. I felt I was too old to be asking for hand outs so I just worked harder until I got burnt out. Whiskey seemed to constantly have health issues, we always got through it, but as soon as he was cleared from one thing I was waiting for the next. Last year Whiskey started to become lame every other month, it wasn't normal, so I got x-rays and medication from the vet, got the chiropractor, my trainer, and corrective shoeing done by my farrier. I called just about everyone except for the horse whisperer.
Until one day I decided to take a deep breath and think simple; I called an Amish farrier.
I was always against it, just because everyone else was.
The driver was a quirky man, one of those older guys that makes funny comments and corny jokes. The Amish man pulled off the corrective shoes with the pads - I stood there crunching numbers in my head worrying about vet bills, wondering how much my paychecks were going to be combined, thinking about who's going to take care of him while I'm at IUP, how much I can pay the vet this month, how much hay I need-
"Hey do you wanna sell this horse?", the driver asks.
"Excuse me? He's not for sale.", I said.
"Honey I'll give you the money right now, I can have him hauled to my house today."
"No he's not going anywhere, you do know the vet thinks he's navicular? Plus he's still kind of young, he's not an excellent trail horse, he's a little spooky."
I was no liar, he had problems. I loved this horse with everything in me. He just wasn't for sale.
"That's okay. I'll give you my number, you think about it."
Oh and did I think about it, I cried for days until I finally called him because I came to the realization that this was happening in my favor, this was it, I'm ready.
Theres a reason Butch showed up at my house with the Amish farrier that day. He had eyes for my boy, it's like he saw something in Whiskey like I always have. Someone finally understood me. They came to pick up Whiskey and I got his papers out of the frame I kept it in, his bloodlines were nothing special, but those horses that came before him sure made something special to me. I looked at the owner's name in the bottom left corner one last time before it changed, and just cried. I was handed money and it's the first time I looked at money with no desire for it. There could have been 5 dollars or 15,000 dollars there, wouldn't have mattered. My stomach tied in knots as I watched him leave my driveway. It's almost as if I got a taste of what my future will be like - so I just can't be bitter about it.
For a whole month after he left, I walked out the back door to fill up water buckets every morning, he wasn't there. I had to keep reminding myself.
Weeks and months go by - I am able to save money. I am able to focus on school. I buy a car that is reliable with better gas mileage. I took 21 credits that semester, graduated with honors and obtained my associates degree, got accepted into IUP for the Fall of 2017. Started working out and lost 13 pounds. Sometimes it's okay to let go. It's rough, but at this age I know I needed to grow. I needed to grow just like the green grass I now see in the empty pasture that was once imprinted with hooves. I made a tough decision that day. I miss my Whiskey everyday, I hope one day to own him again, but if not, that's okay. One of the sweetest things about selling your horse is seeing the light on the buyer's face because they share the happiness. I'm happy to see my happiness make others happy. My decision to let him go made another man's day.
I will continue to work, finish my bachelor's degree, get a good job, and get ready for a life.
I needed to make that decision for myself, you are the most important person to your future. The memories will always be there but the opportunity to make new memories is greater.