This post is in honor of this week’s photo challenge from Jen H., Beloved.

The photograph is my horse, Perhaps. I took this shot in 2006 right after I had finished bathing her. You can read my original story about her by clicking here. So, why is the horse in a post titled “Beloved”?

Perhaps has been gone now for six and a half years. The pain of her loss has never left. Oh, I don’t really think about it as much now. I guess I have stored it away; compartmentalized it into a locked corner. It is still there though. I do try to think of our happy times together and of all of the joy that she brought to me.

The day that we met we touched our foreheads together. I will never forget how soft her forelock was or how gently she touched me. When we went to look at her, she gave my wife, Sheri, who was an experienced rider, quite a bit of trouble. Much to Sheri’s consternation I got on her, and she bounded down the hill with a smile. After that, she really only wanted me on her back. She wanted me to be the one to give her hay and her supplements. She really preferred me to clean her stall.

Perhaps really loved it when I brushed her. That was our time to just become lost in our own little world. One of her favorite things to do with me was to have me hold her treat bucket while she ate her grain supplements. She would put her forehead against me, and eat while I held the bucket. Again, it was our time together with no other thoughts or interruptions. Just the two of us bonding and sharing feelings. During this time, I actually had no other thoughts. The world melted away until all that was left was an overwhelming feeling of tranquility.

This is me on Perhaps. We were just tooling around the pasture having a little fun.

And of course she loved to go riding. Perhaps knew I was a beginner, and she really tried to help me. Oh, she was a handful. Arabian horses are incredibly intelligent and have a strong sense of fairness and equity. We definitely had our moments, and I was schooled on more than one occasion. But she was my partner, and we had great riding adventures. She loved to go exploring, and her trail skills were superb.

As we spent more years together, our bond grew ever stronger. She was an excellent communicator. If Perhaps thought I was taking too long to clean her stall before letting her out, she would tell me. Sometimes she would grab the pitchfork handle with her teeth and then drop it on the floor. Her favorite trick was to gently take off my hat. Then she would look at me and toss it aside. Then I got that twinkle from her eyes.

I still do not have another horse. The day that I had to let her go is forever burned into my soul. She knew what was happening, and she faced death with incredible dignity and bravery. She was always the strong, confident one in our relationship. I was the student. And even in her demise, she was strong for me.

Writing this has brought me to tears. No, I will never forget my dear friend. To this day, I have never put on my old barn hat again. I cannot; it was ours. And now you know why Perhaps is Beloved.

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