My white horse died in April. I learned a lot about grief. From my own feelings, and also from witnessing the brown horse, his stable mate and fellow therapy horse, go through it.
Those two were very close. They lived together, worked together, looked after each other. They knew each other's strengths and weaknesses and took them into account when sharing out the work. They had not been apart for many years.
My white horse had been with me for 22 years. He came as a 3-year old. We learned together, first the dressage game, then the therapy game. He was always true. He never took advantage and he made up for many of my mistakes. Paul Belasik, in “Songs of Horses”, says: “The white horse is passion. The white horse is light.”
Now that passion, that light is gone. The brown horse and I are without him and feel it. The work had to change. We had to change. The pain was intense. Still is at times. The day the white horse died, the brown horse was there. He sniffed him for the last time. He understood. And then he screamed. If that seems hopelessly anthropomorphic and sentimental, you have not heard the sound. People don't get it. They say: “ He knows he is dead, why is he neighing for him from the field?” They think he doesn't understand. Does the pain go away just because we know somebody is dead?
Now it is August and the brown horse and I are calmer. We can remember him, miss him, and carry on living, working. The pain is there, sometimes sharp and like new, often just an ache, a memory. Most of all it is a feeling of someone, something missing, a gap in the air. For me it feels as if my left arm has been amputated. The brown horse and I are working well, but the other half is missing. The brown horse often stands alone. Other horses will come and they will be part of the life and the work. The white horse will not come back.