In high school, my chemistry teacher was a former-nun turned science teacher. I am not entirely sure if she was a certified teacher or a long-term substitute, but, nonetheless, she became our chemistry teacher during my junior year. She was a kind and friendly woman, more like the sweet, diminutive nun, than the classic, strict, no-nonsense nun portrayed in Hollywood. Or maybe in real life, too. I would not know since I went to public school. Anyway, it did not take my classmates long to figure out that she did not know chemistry and could not manage a classroom. Teaching us must have been nothing short of hell, and we were the "good kids".
Even though my friends were enjoying the freedoms bestowed by an ineffective teacher, I felt badly for our chem-nun teacher. One day after class, I started talking to her and somehow horses entered the conversation. Big surprise, right? I learned that her niece was studying Equine Science at a local college. That happened to be the same college where I used to take riding lessons from college students. I started going down the list of horses that I knew and it turned out that my chem-nun's niece was the caregiver for two of my favorites: Trip and Popeye. Unfortunately, several years had passed since I had been to the college or seen either of them. Although they were not very old, both horses had succumbed to colic. And wouldn't you know it? My chem-nun had been by each horse's side for their individual passings. She had come to her niece's rescue, trying to help her and the vet make each horse comfortable in preparation for the inevitable when nothing else could be done. She was kind enough to describe the experiences for me while we both stood there crying about horses in the chemistry lab. At some point I started to laugh at myself, because I could not believe that I was sharing this moment in the most unexpected of places with the most unexpected person in my life.
Horses can connect people. They are powerful creatures, literally and figuratively. I like to mention the paradoxes that exist in riding, but the most profound is the horse itself.
For embodying the picture of strength, horses are amazingly fragile. This never leaves my mind, and it contributes to the dilemma of loving things whose mortality nearly always falls short of ours.
Not loving horses and not having them in one's life is not an option if you are a horse girl. The only choice is to remember the past, enjoy the present, welcome the future, but realize that one day will be the last.
Until then, love, ride, listen, and care for your horse like there is no tomorrow. That is how the horse lives; we should take a lesson.
Dedicated to all the wonderful horses and animals who have touched my life, including one whom I have never met in the flesh and blood.
Rest in peace, Gogo.
My heart goes out to your dedicated and