Dearest beloved horse,
They say there is no such thing as love at first sight, but when I gazed upon your feces-encrusted, conformationally challenged physique, I knew you were the one for me.
My friends and family urged me not to rush into anything… again… and that Craigslist was probably not the best way to find true love, but here we are. I’ll never forget those first magical 30 days together. Before the reserpine wore off.
I mean, how else is one expected to find out the sort of health coverage they have if they’re never given the opportunity to use it? The $5,000 deductible was just fine print before we met and now, thanks to you, my precious creature, I know what the term “high premium” means, and also that dental plans are completely separate insurance entities. For that, I thank you. You have taught me so much in the magical time we’ve spent together.
I used to be so preoccupied with what others thought of me, but fighting with you in public has completely opened my eyes. Being repeatedly hung over jump rails like wet laundry, rubbed against trees until torn off by thorny branches, water boarded with a saddle pad when you decided to go for a roll in the stream and splitting the butt of my pants open while desperately clinging to your noodle neck in front of an arena full of 9-year-old lesson kids has humbled me to the point of shamelessness. Judge away world, I wear Ninja Turtle underwear, am a poor swimmer and have nothing left to give you.
Before I met you I had no idea it was even possible for a horse to lay down on the cross ties and leap over trailer breast bars with all the grace of a prodigal child gymnast. Twice now strangers have offered me the phone number of local women’s shelters after observing my black eyes and busted lip. I’m quick to thank them and assure them “I just fell.” (Fell five feet from the saddle after you clocked me in the face with the back of your bony skull feigning terror at a child’s purple mitten discarded in the farm drive.) For a moment there you even had me convinced the tiny purple hand-shaped horror was a venomous stone dust starfish, an Oscar-worthy performance if there ever was one. You are so full of mysterious talents—I’m so lucky you chose to share them all with me.
I’d like to think you’ve learned from me as well—learned that you’ll always have a nice blanket to tear apart when the weather turns. That you’ll always have fresh hay and grain even when you get a little “hippy.” You’ll always have orthopedic shoes for your TERRIBLE feet whether I have electricity that month or not. You’ll have a doctor, dentist and podiatrist on call whenever you should need them. You’ll have shelter from the wind and rain, and I’ll always empty the soggy turds from your water bucket so you can have fresh drinks until you decide to desecrate it again.
Of all the lessons our relationship has taught me, the most important ones are what you’ve taught me about myself. I can be selfless, I can be strong, I have an incredibly high threshold for facial pain. For all our trials and challenges, if I take away nothing else, I’ll leave with the knowledge that I am determined and able to love unconditionally and without expectation. Many humans go entire lifetimes never truly knowing themselves—thanks to you, I do.
So I wished happy Valentine’s Day to you, my majestic mud unicorn. No matter how many times I tell you the trailer is headed to a new home, I hope you know it’s just another paper chase.
I leave you with a poem…
Chestnuts are red,
some roans are blue,
some horses are mud-colored,
and you might be the devil.
XOXO, your humbled human
Alice Peirce was raised as a self-described “feral horse farm child” in Howard County, Maryland.. She’s made efforts to leave the horse world over the years but always comes back and has worked for a number of people in various disciplines. Currently she’s riding young race horses and training foxhunters in Monkton, Maryland, where she hunts with the Elkridge-Harford Hunt.