I don’t know where I heard it, probably in some ridiculous Lifetime movie my mom forced us to watch, but for some reason it has always stuck with me: Life is just a series of firsts. First breath, first tooth, first day of school, first day of college, first love, first day of your first job, first house, etc. etc. Most of the time when we think of “firsts” they are good. But then sometimes we come across some firsts that pretty much suck. First heart break, first loss of a loved one, first broken bone, first wreck, and so on.
I’ve had a lot of really wonderful firsts with my sweet Theodore Bearhug. Catching the first steer I ever roped on him, first day of college, first college rodeo, first check in team roping, first rodeo short go, I could go on and on. He’s been with me since before MyFarmer, a full 10 years now. My parents bought him for me the summer between high school and college so the old boy and I have been through a whoooole lot of life and (me) growing up together. He’s been my faithful companion through it all, even when I didn’t deserve his love, and he has always been the sweet boy that puts a smile on my face. Sure, we have had some times that weren’t so good… like the time he tried to cut his leg off on a fence and that other time when he tore his suspensory ligament, but he came back from both of those injuries better than ever and went on to compete again.
He’s so adorable that it hurts.
I had yet another first with my sweet Theodore last week. And it was an AWFUL first. He is 31 years old this year, which is quite old for a horse, but I’m not really accepting his age well. I can see the changes in him, but I refuse to let myself feel them, until they come and hit me like a ton of bricks.
That day was the first time Theodore has gotten down to roll and wasn’t able to get back up on his own. And it was heartbreaking. Thankfully I was at the barn and saw him standing before I saw him struggling, so I knew he hadn’t been down for long. Also very luckily MyFarmer was planting sweet corn really close by so he was able to help in a hurry. When I got to Theo he had been trying to get up and had physically wore himself out. He just layed there with his head on the ground while I petted him and let him catch his breath… while I held mine.
Once MyFarmer got to us we were able to push his front end up and hold him there until he was able to get his back end under himself. Once he was up he went right back to grazing like nothing happened. MyFarmer looked at me and said: “Don’t you start crying now. He’s okay.” And with those seven words the water works began. Tears that he was fine, and tears that he’s not fine. He is THIRTY ONE years old. And there is NOTHING I can do about it. No amount of love, attention, nutrition, therapy, can slow down time. And that sucks. But it also served as a reminder to truly cherish the time I’ve got left with him, until I have to endure the very last first we’ll ever have. The first day without him.
Some people are reading this and it totally get it. They know the love a person can have for an animal and how much it hurts having to watch them age or lose them. Other people will think to themselves, “He’s just a horse. Get over it.” And that’s fine too. It’s impossible to explain the love between a girl a her horse, but trust me, it is a force to be reckoned with.
P.S. I feel like I need to add this in:
A few days later I got to witness another first for my Theodore… but this one was precious. MyFarmer (a self proclaimed “horse hater” *eyeroll*) came down to the horse barn to talk to me and was standing next to Theo’s pen. Theodore got this mischievous look on his face and reached over the panels to playfully nuzzle on MyFarmer. He started at his hip and worked his way up to his face. If a horse can smile, Theodore most certainly was, as was MyFarmer. My heart almost exploded in that moment. That little show of affection between my two favorite 31 year old’s in the world will forever be engraved in my brain. ❤