Some horses are fortunate enough to be loved by several little girls. Stormy was the most fortunate –she was loved by many little (and big) girls, but she was loved almost her entire life by me.
It’s been an entire year now since I lost my Stormy. Most of my friends don’t even know that she’s gone yet, mainly because I never could find a way to tell them. How can I? Ring ring, “hello?” “Hi it’s me, we lost Stormy.” Then there would be massive crying on both ends, and the only thing I hate worse than crying, is dealing with someone else who’s crying. It’s just been easier to avoid discussing it as much as possible, and when it’s unavoidable, easier to let Brinn tell people. So the majority still don’t know, until now.
Stormy had been going downhill steadily for about two years, then in the last 4 months, she just really dropped off. My grandmother, my mother, and myself could not manage to agree on a plan of action. 3 generations of stubborn women with an aging horse beloved by an entire community creates a huge family disagreement. Finally, after a hard discussion with the family vet, who had been Stormy’s primary veterinarian since birth, and we agreed on the hardest decision. Dr. Thompson agreed with my mother that Stormy was not yet suffering, but he also agreed with my grandmother that it was time to let her go. His overwhelming advice was that when Stormy would turn the curve into suffering, there would be little transition from no suffering to agonizing suffering, and that if we waited until that point, we would have to live the rest of our lives remembering Stormy suffering. His suggestion was to let her go peacefully while she feels good enough to get in our goodbyes.
I don’t remember what day we let Stormy go, and that’s intentional. We scheduled this horrible day to take place on a weekday that I didn’t have to work, with nothing significant going on that week to make it any more memorable. I did not look at the calendar that morning, nor when we returned home that evening. I did not write anything about it down, and deleted any text concerning it. I didn’t even write a check or get a receipt from Dr. Thompson. While I don’t remember the date, I remember every detail about that day.
It was a gorgeous October day with mild weather and blue sky. I didn’t cry at all on the long drive home to grandma’s house. I didn’t cry while I gave Stormy a thorough grooming and massage. I didn’t cry while she ate every single one of the carrots I brought her. I still didn’t cry when I led her out to the pine tree cove in her favorite pasture. I didn’t cry when Dr. Thompson came out. Then he gave her a lethal injection and I cried harder than I’ve ever cried in my life. I held her head in my lap and cried so hard I shook. I cried until Brinn picked me up and drug me to the car, and then I cried the entire drive home. I cry now as I remember that horrible day. I cried and still cry selfish tears. I didn’t focus on Stormy’s happy life and what a wonderful impact she’s had on mine, but instead thought of how empty my life would be without her. You see, I’ve never known a time in my life that Stormy was not a part of.
Stormy was born April 23, 1983. I was born December 27, 1983. Stormy was there when I came home from the hospital as a newborn. Stormy was there for every birthday and Christmas, when I invariably received horse goodies as gifts that I would run out and test on her. Stormy bucked me off the day I broke my first bone, she was the first horse to take me over a jump, the first horse to take me on a trailride, the first horse to cary me into the showring, the first horse I took a dressage lesson on, the first horse I rode through a Christmas parade. Stormy taught me everything. How to hang on, how to let go, how to soften, how to release, how to sit back, how to sit forward, how to braid, how to mount bareback from the ground… When I turned 10, I was allowed to go outside and ride by myself IF I could get ready by myself. Stormy was too tall (15h2″) for a 10 year old to lift a western saddle on, so I learned to bridle her and rode bareback for 2 years. She helped me develop a secure seat and a love of a riding. Her back had the perfect niche to sit in bareback. I’ve never found that feel on any other horse.
I skipped my 8th grade graduation for an evening trail ride with my mom. I skipped highschool prom to take Stormy to the Sevier County 4H show (where Stormy was the western high point horse). I skipped highschool graduation for the 4-H District Horse Show. Stormy was in my wedding. Stormy was in several of my childhood birthday parties. Stormy was in my 7th grade class’s Indian Day exhibit. There was not a facet of my life that Stormy wasn’t part of.
Stormy taught so many people in my community to ride: Michael, Kristine, Martha, Tabitha, Jonathan, Madeline, Samuel, Shelly, Alanna, and Emily are just a few of those who got to show her. All I could think of while holding her still head was that of all those that had the fortune of knowing Stormy, my unborn little boy would never meet this amazing horse. Ian would not get the chance to learn to ride on her. 3 generations were able to enjoy her sweet nature and spoiled rotten attitude, but not a fourth. Ian won’t understand the joke when we point at sleigh bells laying on the ground after a Christmas parade and laugh that Stormy must have been there. Unfortunately Ian also won’t understand what he’s missing when he has to clean a messy stall and I sadly try to explain to him how Stormy always kept her stall tidy with one pile in a back corner.
It’s been an entire year since Stormy’s been gone, and I’m a little surprised that so much has been able to happen in a world without Stormy. Clearly Ian was sent to me to fill the void in my heart that Stormy’s passing has left. I think Stormy would be happy about that. She was always unhappy when her humans were upset or hurting. So it’s with a heavy heart today that I think back on Stormy, but one year is enough mourning. Tonight I’m allowed to cry and be withdrawn, but starting tomorrow I will focus only on remembering the best parts of Stormy’s life.