In some ways, my final farewell to Bars came with fortuitous timing. I wrote earlier about separation anxiety—mine—that had escalated since Bars’ move to his new home, and all the stress related health effects that had on him. We had planned a horse riding trip in late June, one that was a strenuous riding and camping experience on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains. This trip took us to amazing scenery and put us with excellent company, but would also take us away from all contact with “the world” for five days. With all worries about Bars’ health gone, I now had the opportunity to truly relax and enjoy the ride, as it were.
This trip was therapeutic in many ways. It put me into a situation where I had planned to ride another horse—a horse that was younger and less used to my quirks. I was also surrounded by other horse people, a sympathetic and compatible group. In addition, because of the heavy winter, the scenery in the area was even more breathtaking than usual — snow still covering the Sierra peaks, mountain meadows green and in bloom. All of this added up to a relief from grief, as it were. We shared a great time, made new friends, and ate lots of terrific food.
My assigned horse, Pardy, was a sweet little paint mare who was pleasant, yet a little challenging to ride. For a working string horse, she had amazingly few bad habits. Pardy was an enjoyable ride without any of the emotional “strings” that might make it difficult to say goodbye again. We had a fun five days together and parted ways.
Pardy also reminded me how to ride a younger horse over challenging (and beautiful) terrain. It’s always nice to push yourself out of your normal routine, and riding through the Bodie Hills, which feature volcanic rocks, desert, sagebrush, steep hills, and endless views, is as far from my normal routine with Bars as is possible to be.
This trip gave us both a little emotional distance from our grief, while still keeping us connected with horses. I’m not quite ready to ride another horse regularly, but I’m far less nervous about riding another horse now than I was before the trip. There is still a giant hole in my heart where my ole man used to be, but having a respite from grief made me feel the loss a little less for awhile.