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  1. #1
    scalter Guest

    Default How to get over loss???

    Long story very short I am haveing a really hard time getting over the death of my horse and getting back into riding. Background - I have been riding since I was 8 years old (31 now) I was lucky enough to get my 'heart' horse when I was in college, a 4th level dressage horse, I had him for 10 years before I had to put him down 2 years ago when he colicked. I had trained him through GP but wasn't able to show due to lack of funds (I decided what little money I had was better spent on training than showing) that being said it has been my goal for as long as I can remember to compete at the upper levels. I have only ridden a handful of times since his death - what I am having a hard time with now is still being so upset after what seems like a long time (ie shouldn't I be over this by now) I want to ride again I can't imagine my life without horses but at the same time I can't go to the barn without crying. It makes me crazy that something I have always loved to do is making me so sad right now, but at the same time I can't imagine not going back to riding. Has anyone else had issues like these? How do you get over both the loss of a once in a lifetime horse as well as the loss of competetive goals (I am in a position to buy a new horse now but not financially able to buy anything fancy/compete etc) Do I need to wait until I am done crying about my old horse to get a new one or will just making myself ride again help? My husband understands that I want to ride again but doesn't really know how to deal with me when I am excited about riding again one second and crying about myhorse the next - any advice at all would be appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep. 24, 2009


    For me, getting a new horse helped me get over the loss of a beloved old one. It helped me remember all the good things about the old horse - how much fun I had riding, how gratifying it was to reach a goal, and how nice it was to find that ichy spot and get the oogly faces when I scratched it for them.

    Just be careful that you are buying something suitable for what you want to do and don't just buy on impulse.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec. 3, 2002


    Hugs to you. I don't think we ever totally get over the loss of our heart horse.
    But in order to go on we need to get involved with something outside of ourself.
    Maybe reach out to a horse in need of a loving person to temporarily get them in a better place. Maybe a project horse. Maybe a rescue. Maybe a horse at your barn whose owner is temporarily involved with life and can't give time or attention to them. I did this once to a sale horse at my barn. He was so ignored,
    not groomed, dirty, smelled to high heaven, not ridden, etc. This poor guy's eyes lit up when I showered him with simple time and attention. Seeing him glow with happiness lifted my mood every time I worked with him. The change in him was amazing. I worked with him as though he were mine until he sold at a show to a very young rider who adored him.

    Even if you know this is a temporary situation it will help move you emotionally to the next step. It will give you a reason to go to the barn. And then suddenly one day you'll start thinking about your next very own partner. It does work.

    More hugs to you.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun. 9, 2005
    Unionville, PA


    I agree, getting another horse would probably help. For me, I was left with one horse at home, so I didn't want to leave him alone for too long. Getting into the horse-shopping mode almost immediately really helped me deal with the grief.
    Delaware Park Canter Volunteer

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007


    Losing any horse you cared for is very hard and you really "never get over it".
    Every one of them, you never get over it.
    You will with time realize that sadness is part of remembering that horse, but life goes on anyway.

    One way to go on is to just take some lessons, if you are looking for another horse that also helps you realize that each horse has something to bring to the table, just as your previous one did.

    While there is no timeline to grief, if it interferes with moving on in significant ways, there may be other bothering you in your life.

    To sort that out, counseling does help, is what counselors are trained to do.
    You may try that, if you indeed are grieving more than you think is reasonable for too long now, as your post seems to indicate.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2005
    Spotsylvania, VA


    I've lost two heart horses, the last about 4 years ago. They leave a huge hole torn out of your life.

    IMHO the best way to get over it is to fill that hole with something else, horse or otherwise. Otherwise that hole just gets bigger and bigger.

    Perhaps you could find a rescue that needed rehabing, or lease a horse or find a barn with good lesson horses. You never know when that new heart horse will come along.
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2005


    I lost two horses two weeks apart in March of last year. I am still not over it and I can honestly say that there is not a single day that I don't think of them. I bought a new horse that I love and I am leasing another horse but it will NEVER be the same. I am also having a very hard time getting back in the saddle. My younger horse is in training and my lease horse, well he just isn't as good as the show horse that I lost. It bums me out because my show gelding was just about perfect and he was exactly what I wanted for this time in my life. It just doesn't seem fair but that is life

    I guess I don't have any words of wisdom because I am in the same place as you.......... if you figure it out let me know
    RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
    May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
    RIP San Lena Peppy
    May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov. 8, 2001
    Cambridge, IA


    Quote Originally Posted by Bluey View Post
    Losing any horse you cared for is very hard and you really "never get over it".
    Every one of them, you never get over it.
    What Bluey said plus, girl, you need to find a Thelma to your Louise. Somebody who will take you by the hand when needed and also throw your silly self in the car and drive you to the barn, telling you jokes and playing loud music and singing out loud all the way. Then ride. Something, anything. Lather, rinse, repeat. Quit thinking about it and just ride. Quit thinking. Ride. Smile.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 15, 2008


    For me, when I lost Disco, I took a short break and then decided to lease a horse and ride in a completely different discipline (western instead of dressage). Doing that allowed me to ride without "comparing" CJ to Disco. After about 8 months of leasing, I was browsing through sales ads and found myself e-mailing about a particular yearling and so started my search. A couple of months later, I found a 9-month old friesian filly (Bella) and began the "next chapter". She is three now and we have had great fun with groundwork and some local shows (halter and at-liberty classes). I will be saddle breaking her this fall (after I complete the Susan G. Komen 3-day Walk for the Cure) and can't wait to start riding again.

    I still think of Disco (and actually teared up from your post because I can completely relate), but bonding with Bella (which did take time) has really helped me cope with his loss. Now I can look back and smile about the fun he and I had.

    I wish you all the best. I am confident a new horse will "weasel" his or her way into your heart and you will find new goals and dreams to pursue with your new partner.
    RIP Disco (6/8/2000 - 4/1/2008)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul. 4, 1999
    New England


    I am sorry for your loss. There are so many of us who can relate to what you are feeling.

    I lost Chutney nearly three years ago and still think of her every day. It takes a long time, and I agree with others who said you never truly "get over" losing your special horse, but it does get easier. Having another horse has definitely helped me.

    Feel free to post anytime, as many of us understand.
    In loving memory of Chutney (1977 - 2008)

    My newest book, "Sandsablaze," available now!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar. 26, 2005
    Back to Normal.. or as close as I'll ever get


    You do not "get over" the grieving.

    Instead you file it away in a part of your heart & brain and gradually, over time, it stops being a sharp-edged pain and softens so you can actually smile when you remember.

    For me, the pain of losing my DHs horse so soon after losing the man himself was shelved as I had to get a companion (or so I thought) for my horse since I was just months away from moving him to my own farm.

    Then when I lost both my Forever Horse and his companion (whom I also loved equally if not identically) I could not face an empty barn.

    It helped me to have first Sam, then his pony nemesis filling the stalls.

    Find yourself a horse to love.
    Lots of good ideas for doing that on this thread.
    It WILL NOT be a replacement for what you lost, but it will help you heal.
    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
    Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
    Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov. 10, 2006
    Southern Finger Lakes of NY


    I am so sorry for your loss; they take up such a huge space in our lives that it is truly overwhelming sometimes to try to heal the hole they leave behind.

    I know that when I lost Roux last fall, I would not have managed had I not had 15 other horses to feed, water, and otherwise tend to. I found that being with them in the quiet of the pre-dawn mornings made me feel closer to her, like she was watching over me to make sure that I took good care of all the rest of them.

    I still miss her, and I still have a good cry over her now and then, but all that outward focus on the rest of her herd was the very best therapy I could have asked for.

    Find yourself a horse who needs you and go meet her needs. You will both be healed.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb. 8, 2004
    Rolling hills of Virginny


    When I lost my heart horse I had 2 others who were still depending on me to care for them, otherwise I may have gotten completely out of horses for awhile. In retrospect, that probably would have been the worst thing I could have done, so I'm grateful that I had the 2 I did. I needed to be needed, and they fit the bill.

    I have 3 horses again, and my chestnut TB is nothing like the bay Arabian I lost, but he's helped me the most in my healing. The fact that he's NOT like Conny made it easy for me to make room in my heart for him.

    As the others have said, find a horse who needs you. That's the best way to memorialize your lost companion.
    Homeopathy claims water can cure you since it once held medicine. That's like saying you can get sustenance from an empty plate because it once held food.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan. 21, 2011
    Listening area of beoootiful K-Mud


    Yes, I very much sympathize with you and what you're going through. It is terrible. I lost my second heart horse to cancer. (I lost my first heart horse, my "growing up" horse, to cancer, too, but he at least was 25 when he passed and had had a full and amazing life.) The last ride I had on my guy was four days after Nine Eleven. I did hospice care for him, won't go into that, it was extremely difficult emotionally but I would do that again because our heart horses (and dogs) deserve the most we can give them. I did not ride again until 2008 though I still had a couple of other horses who had been with me for many years, I just simply had no interest in riding and anyway the others were long retired. Then one day my farrier said "I have this horse....I know you have always had TBs and Warmbloods and Saddlebreds but I have this horse..." and she pulled out a snapshot taken on her cell phone camera feature. Looking back at me was the perfect combo of Appy and TB and Belgian (and the personality is ALL Belgian, as I found out to my complete delight). The expression on his face was quizzical and hopeful and said to me (pinkie swear - that photo'd expression SPOKE to me) and what it said was "will you be my mommy???"

    Sigh. Of course, I had to go try him out. After all - he was "free" because my farrier needed to re-home him from the whole PMU thing as she had some training horses coming in. I thought - I can always say "no." She would understand. After all I had been moping around and even turning down enticing offers to accompany my farrier's family for beach rides, mountain rides, etc.

    The minute I stepped in the stirrup (and for the first time having to use a mounting block because he was SO big) I was home.

    You will be, too. You just have to wait for one to "speak" to your heart again.
    Surrealism: once an art form. Now indistinguishable from daily life. (Forgot who said that.)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan. 24, 2000
    Out of the loop


    Condolences on the loss of your beloved partner.

    I agree with the poster who said grief is not something you "get over." I think it is more something that is managed, and it becomes more manageable with time. So I think if you wait until you are "over" the grief, you will be waiting a long time to ride again. The specific when and how are very individual choices; you just have to feel the way that is right for you.

    A very wise person once told me something that has helped me through the grief over losing beloved animals and accepting the moving on part: Your future horse(s) will not replace the one you lost. They are not "in place of" your heart horse. They are IN ADDITION to him; and the human heart has more room in it than you can imagine.

    Hugs and best of luck to you!
    Equinox Equine Massage

    In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
    -Albert Camus

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep. 23, 2010


    So sorry for your loss. I lost my "heart" horse, whom I had for fifteen years unexpectedly one night. (he was only 20, fine at night check, didn't get up in the morning). It was very difficult and it still is.

    I think my other horse was the thing that made me able to function and keep riding. He is now very special to me, too, and a forever horse. But he has not replaced my old guy by any means. It does get better with time, even if it does take a very long time. I think I cried every single day for about 4-5 months, so I know how you feel. I still have a good cry not too infrequently

    I would encourage you to find a way to ride again, even if it's just lessons or a lease horse. If you truly cannot go to the old barn, perhaps you could try a new one.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar. 7, 2011


    Your heart will always be full with memories of the horse you loved so much and lost, and sometimes you will cry (often at the strangest times) when your mind flashes on a memory of the one you lost.

    It would be a mistake to try to replace that horse; but rather look at and ride other horses that do not remind you of him. They can't possibly compare, but they can give you back some of what you have always loved about riding and being around horses.

    Two years of grieving is not unusual. You might need to do some riding that is completely different than your eventual goal, maybe even head out and do some trail riding where you can cry all you want and the only one who will know is the horse you're riding, who will flick those ears back and listen to you no matter how much you blubber.

    At some point you'll be ready to start back on your path to competition, and you'll still have days where you cry, but they'll be less frequent, and the crying won't last as long, until finally you can think of your old fellow and just smile.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun. 28, 2003


    While I agree on much of what's been said I'm going to offer a bit different advice.

    Many (too many) years ago I learned from a co-worker the process of "turn it around". The way you do this is to look at it from a different angle and celebrate the positive rather than dwelling on the negative. Sounds corny and Pollyanna-ish, but the same way the physical act of smiling can make you feel better, concentrating on what you have, rather than what you lost, can make a huge difference in how you get through life.

    It's work to do and you won't always be successful, but you will find that as you start celebrating the good things in life you keep finding more good things and when you are getting pulled down by the negative, finding anything at all to "turn it around" helps.

    In a short time, we lost an older horse to choke, a very old horse to a fall in the field, went through a barn fire (losing one horse and being left with a seriously injured barn mate) and then we lost our Dad. The injured horse dragged us back from who knows what depths of grief with his need for care and determination to get well.

    Here's a poem we found after losing Dad that pretty much sums up how we try to deal with things nowadays. Please note... this does NOT mean you don't take time to grieve and that you won't at times feel sad. It means you can help yourself by remember all the good you had with your horse and celebrate that as you find your way to opening your heart to another.

    He is gone
    You can shed tears that he is gone,
    or you can smile because he lived,

    You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back,
    Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left

    Your heart can be empty because you can't see him,
    or you can be full of the love that you shared,

    You can turn your back on tomorrow
    and live yesterday,
    Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday,

    You can remember him and only that he is gone,
    Or you can cherish his memory and let if live on,

    You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back,
    Or you can do what he would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on

    To me, this seems like a more fitting tribute to your heart horse.

    This also might help

    All is Well
    When sorrow comes, let us accept it simply,
    As a part of life
    Let the heart be open to pain; let it be stretched by it.

    In the desolate hour, there is an outcry,
    A clenching of the hands upon emptiness;
    A burning pain of bereavement;
    A weary ache of loss.
    But anquish, like ecstasy, is not forever.

    There comes a gentleness, a returning quietness,
    A restoring stillness.
    This, too, is a door to life.
    Here, also, is a deepening of meaning,
    An opportunity to reflect and meditate on the importance of loving relationships.

    And it can lead to dedication;
    A going forward to the triumph of the soul,
    The conquering of the wilderness.
    And in the process will come
    A deepening inward knowledge
    That in the final reckoning
    All is Well.

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