When I lost Ana in September 2011, I went through a bit of an equestrian identity crisis. My life was very different from November 2002, when we brought Ana home. Now a full-time working mother with two small children, I struggled for months wondering if I should get another horse--it seemed the epitome of selfish. The money and time would be better spent on my family, rather than on something that takes me away from them. For a few months I was completely horseless, taking riding lessons on weekends, and then for one month I took home an OTTB on trial that didn't turn out (that was heartache of a different kind). For months, I got to experience not concerning myself or my family with daily feeding and mucking, turning out, vet visits, lunging, riding...and I didn't really notice the freed time (or cash). I did notice myself feeling wound up, trapped, and needing my outlet even more now that I am a full-time working mother. I ultimately concluded that to be a better mother to my sons and wife to my husband, I needed to breathe the barn air. I began horse shopping in earnest and brought Trilogy home in April 2012.
But in those first few months, there was this nagging feeling that I was depriving my sons of the experience. I was coming to the barn and bringing them with me, but it was always "Play with your trucks over there away from the horses and be safe." What was the point of exposing the boys to the barn and bringing them there if they didn't get to participate in it? The feeling nagged.
In June, I found my thoughts drifting back to Firefly. Man, she would be perfect for the boys, I thought. Right height, right temperament, right teaching tool. Tril is sweet, but he's big and he's goofy, and really I don't think my then-2yro son would be safe around any large horse. Then, the long-occupied stall next to Tril was vacated and I noted the pipe corral panels were positioned such that a mini could fit in there. Hmm, I thought.
One June Sunday afternoon, I was chatting with a fellow equestrian mom with small kids and asking her about ponies. She, like any good horsey friend-enabler, encouraged me to find a pony like she had gotten her eldest, and told me to have my eldest clean stalls for a week to see if he's up to the challenge of horse ownership. I went home and casually looked at ponies for sale online to scratch that itch; I could not in good faith look for one in earnest out of a sense of respect and fairness to my husband, and really, out of common sense. We were barely back in the swing of caring for a horse full-time--make it two?? Gah.
Then, just three days later, I got an email out of the blue from the program director at Canyon Acres, where I'd donated Firefly. Years had gone by since I'd had any sort of contact with her, excepting one kind exchange where she sent a photo of Fly to comfort me in my grief over losing Ana. When I opened the email, I had a sense of knowing--like I knew what was coming and was relieved it had finally arrived. I knew, before I read the first sentence, what the email was about. Not to be all woo-woo, but that is the raw truth. So, woo-woo, so there.
Canyon Acres had been bought out by another company, and they needed to downsize (thankfully, not eliminate) their equine therapy program. This meant a few horses needed to go--and Firefly was selected as one of them. The program director said Firefly was getting a bit burned out from her job and needed a new one. She wasn't doing anything aggressive; it was more avoidance behavior with the most intense of their low functioning kids--who need to work with a mini the most. She was still terrific with the higher functioning ones, and would be fine with my boys. As I wrote a right of first refusal into the contract, she contacted me first...so, here we were. Interesting.
I wasn't ready to just hitch up my trailer and take her back home, but I was curious. I also seriously needed to evaluate if we had the time and money. More the time than money.
I couldn't take her back anytime in the first 3 years she was there--between Dad's death, pregnancy, newborn, illness--but then, maybe. Just maybe.
|Reunited after 3 years apart|
I spoke to the property owner, and she offered the recently vacated stall for half price. I spoke to the man who feeds for me in the morning, and he offered to feed her for reduced price. Bam-bam-bam, domino after domino fell. I gave hubby time to consider it, and I took the boys over to see how they were with her, and she with them. The day I brought them over happened to be the day the vet was coming to give her shots and her annual exam, so we got to stay and watch that as well.
|My eldest was very concerned about Fly being seen by the vet, but he was able to explain everything he was doing and ease my son's concerns.|
The reunion choked me up, though my sons had no idea the true reason behind the visit. I was overjoyed seeing my little red-headed girl again.
|Very happy reunion. Fly was fascinated by my youngest, who was fascinated by...dirt.|
For years, my eldest would talk about Firefly, bringing her up out of the blue, saying he wished she could still be ours. Some wishes do get granted.
|A very happy boy and his pony-to-be|
|Leading her for the first time--he was so excited and proud! She, of course, tried to drag him to every Green Thing. We're still working on that.|
My youngest was fascinated, and I remarked how perfect in size she was--he could walk behind her without me holding my breath. She was the perfect teaching tool for a toddler his size and age.
|Then, he realized the brush could be used on DIRT. Well! That was way more interesting.|
I packed the boys up, came home, and told hubby how perfectly the visit had gone. That decided it: she was coming back home to us. A week later, we hitched up the trailer and brought two very excited little boys back to Canyon Acres, and one very worried pony home to the same backyard property she'd been on nearly four years previous.
|First introductions--put your ears a little more forward, Tril.|
|The boys were eager to brush her and help her feel at home in her new surroundings--which she immediately took ownership of, of course.|
|"Oh, hey, you left the feed room open. Let me march right into this dark, scary, enclosed place and release you of this orange thing infestation problem you have."|