The Joy and the Heartache

Fafnir Christmas Day 2013

It is impossible to live with horses and not feel profoundly. My core herd has been with me for at least 20 years, hard to believe. I love my horses like family. We don’t tend to part ways unless it is a mutual decision and they find a perfect human match. They are my best teachers. They motivate me to get out of bed every single day and keep going no matter what.

Inevitably my heart is going to get ripped out. Every few years another of the old guard passes. Every time we make that decision together and I walk through it with them, holding the lead until I am no longer allowed to, reassuring them it will be quick, breathing a sight of relief as they slump heavily to the ground, released from the burden of an aging body that no longer serves their huge Spirit. How will I survive the pain of letting another one go?

We make a habit of sitting with them until we feel sure they are gone. Say our goodbyes with tears of remembrance and appreciation. Sometimes even relief. It can be such a vigil with some. Waiting, watching, trying to get the timing right. Don’t want to wait too long but don’t want to rob them of life they still want to live. Not always an easy balance to strike.

We said goodbye to one of the good ones on Saturday during a clinic here at my place. Fafnir chose his timing well. He always did love to be loved on by a bunch of women at a clinic. No accident he spent his final days with eight amazing women at his beck and call. I have no words for the depth of gratitude to the ladies who were here with us this weekend. Everyone took it in turn to spend time with him, check in, offer him water and food. When it was clear he couldn’t recover from this there was no question, we all stopped and sat with him, kept him sheltered from the sun, giving him water, and comfort until the vet arrived.

He told the animal communicator he would sure love to stay if possible. I’ll take that as the highest of compliments. We had to negotiate about that one and I explained my feelings about his chances. He had to admit it would be nice not to be in pain anymore.

And so he went.

Of course we had another day of clinic to get through. Thoughtfully, the ladies asked if I wanted to continue. Wouldn’t it be hard for me? There was no question for me, of course we continue. One of the reasons I so appreciate having horses in my life is the lessons they teach about living life. Because, despite pain of my battered heart I have to attend to his burial and the 15 horses who still need to be fed. They are all processing Fafnir’s passing as well. He was a strong presence in the herd.

We carry on, even in the wake of such loss. We carry on.

Watching the horses I can see how they grieve like I do. They grieve in the moments when there’s space for it and then they get on with the business of living. The clinic went on yesterday and we danced Tango with horses in Fafnir’s honor, sharing our joys, our tears, and the honor we felt at being present with him as he moved on from this life. In typical fashion he had a profound impact on everyone here, as he has done for the last 20 years.

Even though I feel like my heart got ripped out I would never trade the time I had with Fafnir for anything. He brought so much humor and joy to all of those he touched, and he touched many. With great joy comes great sorrow. And life goes on.

I am happy to have known you Fafnir. I feel your presence strongly with me every time I close my eyes. I cannot wait to see what you have to teach from this new perspective you have. All of us who learned from you over the years will miss your physical presence in our lives.

Thank you to everyone who was here this weekend. You ladies are amazing!

And thank you to all the horses in my life – past, present and future.


Enjoy your freedom old friend!


Fafnir this summer, claiming his space, as usual.



12 thoughts on “The Joy and the Heartache

  1. Thank you for sharing your beautiful grief with us. You express such joy about what it means to be a horse guardian. Fafir is gone from your sight, but not from your heart. I hope you share what Fafir has to offer from his new perspective. Andrea, you are a lovely spirit.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. so beautiful, I agree so much with what you say – I lost my 38 yr old some weeks ago after having her live with me for 29 years, the rest of the herd are managing, it has taken time, she was the matriach. RIP Taff……….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Mary, I’m so sorry for your loss. Gin is 28 years old this year and has been with me for 26. She is the herd matriarch and I really wonder how all of us will cope when she goes. Lots of love to you and your herd during this time of transition.


  3. Sending you love. Lots and lots of love. I’m so grateful Faf and you were surrounded with love and care for his passing. Thank you for sharing with us. Even in the most difficult and challenging moments, you and the horses are teaching us and helping us grow our understanding and compassion.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Andrea, I recently had to make the same decision for my 26 yr old Briggs. I feel like I’m playing god and those shoes are way too big for me! But I accept the responsibility in exchange for all the joy and wisdom Briggs gave me. I love to think of all these amazing horses frolicking through the heavens sharing stories about their humans and experiences on this crazy planet we call earth. xopatty

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry for your loss as well Patty. I understand what you mean about feeling like you’re playing God and those shoes are too big for you. I feel the same. And yes – it’s still and always worth the time we have with them.


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