Thursday, June 23, 2016

My Beloved Horse, Flirt

Every horsewoman has that one horse in her life with whom she was completely in sync, the horse that was absolutely perfect for her.  When I was a teenager, I had a beautiful Paint horse named Tewanna.  I loved her dearly and felt completely at peace when I rode her.  Tewanna lived to the very ripe old age for a horse of 36 years.  When she passed onward, I was sure I would never again find a horse who suited me so perfectly.  I am blessed to say I was wrong, as Flirt the Horse was the perfect horse for me in my thirties, just as Tewanna was in my teenage years.

Flirt was buried last week, and my heart remains sad at her loss.  Despite this, the joy she brought to my life was so significant that my abundant tears still cannot wash away  the happiness that thoughts of her bring to me.  There is a unique symmetry that Flirt entered my world on the day that I first was given a piece of Chimeara crystal . . . And in the week after I purchased the Chimeara Crystal business, Flirt completed her time on this earth.  

In my last blog post, I wrote about the day that my friend Angie brought Flirt to Harrison Farm.  Angie had connected me with Flirt's previous owner.  Flirt had been a brood mare, and had much success as a mother.  Unfortunately, as she aged she developed cysts that prevented her from continuing her maternal role.  Flirt's owners loved her, and did not intend to sell her -- but they told Angie they would happily give Flirt to someone who would love her forever.  I was blessed to get to be that someone.  Flirt had a generous, patient nature.  It took her about a year to completely trust me, but our bond was very strong.  I spent time with Flirt almost every morning and every evening.  Just as she was calm and patient with the baby goats who ran under her and all around her, she was also calm with me.  In the last year as my life was a struggle, I always knew that if I needed to cheer myself that time with Flirt would do the trick.  I would wrap my arm around her, lay my head against her neck, and feel my heart rate steady as my emotions calmed.  Whenever I had a difficult day, time with Flirt would heal me.  I have had many friends who helped me to navigate the turmoil of the last year of my life, and chief amongst these was my horse friend.

Just as Angie was with me on the day that Flirt came to Harrison Farm, she was with me as I said goodbye to Flirt.  Colic is a terrible, awful thing.  A horse can colic for any number of reasons -- most of which are never fully known.  When a horse gets a twisted gut, the illness proceeds rapidly and rarely has a good ending.  Flirt was in good spirits that morning when we visited, but when I checked her at night she was very, very ill.  I am grateful that Angie was with me that night.  It is one hell of a good friend who will get out of her bed and drive an hour to your farm to do everything she can to help you care for your sick horse in the middle of the night.  Unfortunately, Flirt could not recover, and so we made the decision that she needed to be put down.  

One of the most difficult parts of owning animals is the recognition that at times we have to put aside our own emotions to make the best decision for the animal.  I wanted to lay on the ground next to Flirt and hold her for as long as I could, but Flirt was telling us that she was ready for her journey to end.  The State of Ohio has provisions for acceptable means of euthanasia for animals, and for horses the quickest way in the face of such an issue is to put them down with a bullet.  I am not a fan of guns (I have always been much more comfortable with a knife), but I recognize that guns are necessary tools for the world in which I live.  Responsible animal ownership and responsible gun ownership both involve maturity and analytical decision making.  I am grateful my horse had a good life, I am grateful I had the privilege of being her human, and I am especially grateful that I had my best friend by my side to counsel me through this difficult situation.

The night that Flirt passed onward, it was 3am by the time I went to sleep.  The next morning I was physically exhausted, emotionally stressed, and mentally worn out -- and I then had to face the problem of a large deceased animal in my barn!  I am grateful for the good neighbors that we have at Harrison Farm.  My neighbor James took time out of his busy day to help lay Flirt to rest.  I am grateful that I have such an amazing farm family.  So many of my interns & student assistants reached out to offer sympathy.  This was a testament to the beautiful spirit that Flirt possessed.  After Flirt was buried, we held a benediction for her the next Friday.  The goats joined us as we stood at her grave, which was rightly fitting.  

My student assistant Kaity shared these thoughts about Flirt . . .

"All that I can say about Flirt is that she was and is truly special. She was one of my favorite parts about Harrison Farm. I am grateful that I got the chance to become friends with her. I am even more grateful that she helped me convince Cecelia that I am not too bad of a human. I always gave her a hug when I went to the West End. Now I will just have to give Cecelia two, whether she wants them or not :)"

My intern Elizabeth shared this story about Flirt . . .

"Flirt is a very gentle and lovable horse. My moment with Flirt began during the time I was assigned morning duties one weekend. After I was done checking on the goat population, I saw Flirt calmly standing around the corner. Flirt and I locked eyes as I slowly began to approach her. Once I reached out to her, she then began to move against the palm of my hand as if she wanted me to continue touching her. I began to adore her greatly after this moment. It was later on Facebook that I saw a post on the Harrison Farm page that Flirt had passed. It was very sudden to me, and I started to regret how I was unable to share more moments with Flirt since I only knew her for a short period of time. Overall, Flirt is such a wonderful horse, and it saddens me to know that she is no longer with us; however, when looking at the situation in a positive light, I am happy to know that Flirt is no longer in pain, and I believe that she is now in a better place."

My lasting memories of Flirt involve so much joy & gratitude.  She brought intense happiness to my heart, and her story reminds me of how much I have in my life for which I should be grateful.  I know there will eventually be another horse for me to love, but Flirt will always hold a special place in my heart.  I hope she is at peace.  I hope perhaps she is in a place where she gets to graze with Tewanna.  As my mother Rebecca was wont to say, God forbid I should go to a heaven without any horses.

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