Saying Good-bye


Marissa and Badger at his birthday last year, and schooling at home.DSC_0300

For the first time I can recall, I prayed to a Saint a couple days ago. I guess those of the Catholic faith do that, but being a Methodist, it wasn’t something I’ve done.

I was conducting an interview that day by phone before writing a profile article. I record the conversation by putting my phone on speaker and placing it in front of me next to my recorder. So when a text appeared at the top of my phone screen, I couldn’t ignore it. Especially since it was about my daughter Marissa’s horse Badger, who was at the vet’s where he was being treated for a bout of colic.

“He is not responding and he is in so much pain. I think it’s time to end his suffering.”

While my interviewee was answering my most recent question, I tapped out a short text answer. Knowing the time line and treatment we had already tried for Badger, I could only agree, thinking with great sadness how our sweet horse was suffering. The very nice lady I was interviewing is also a horse owner and she seemed very understanding as I mumbled something about Badger, but I couldn’t possibly talk about this without losing control, so I took a deep breath and pressed on with the interview.

I went through my list of questions automatically, having successfully compartmentalized my feelings. I thought of Scarlett O’Hara saying ‘I’ll think about that tomorrow.’ Well, thank God for the recorder, because I’m not sure if I even knew what was said in response to my questions, but I managed to conclude the interview.

I called my friend Richal who had Badger at her barn, since Marissa is off in another state as working student to a Grand Prix jumper professional. We decided that I would go to the vet’s to be with him at the last.

Being able to mentally compartmentalize is a very good skill, especially when driving, and I arrived safely.

Although he was heavily sedated because of the pain, I think he knew I was there, even as he took his last breath. It was then that I prayed to St. Peter, because I’m sure there are horses in heaven — it’s heaven so there must be, right?

In my first conversation with a Saint I said:

“Saint Peter, open the gate wide and send out the light. Call Badger’s name and watch for him in case he is lost in the dark on his way, don’t let him be afraid. He is a very much loved, sweet, gentle soul and deserves one of the best places in the kingdom over the Rainbow Bridge. I didn’t say amen, I whispered in Badger’s ear as he took his last breath, God Speed!”


Visiting WEF

The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center

The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center

WEF is the acronym well known in certain circles for the Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, Florida. It’s the place to be for the top competitors in the horse show world during the winter. A place where one can see people like the Canadian gentleman who holds the world record (Yes, the WORLD record!!) of the most times to compete in the Olympic Games. (That’s Ian Millar, with ten Olympic competitions, and I interviewed him last year!!)

Also there were the top US riders like Beezie Madden, Laura Kraut, and Kent Farrington, just to name a few.  Anyway, seeing all of them in one place just about blew me away and I had to work hard to keep my cool to look and act professionally. I walked into the spectator entrance of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center feeling like I didn’t belong in such a place and that security officers would soon appear and take me by the elbows to escort me out!

But after a mental pep talk and picking up my badge at the Media Center, I started to feel better. I got busy making my contacts with the riders I wanted to meet. The article from the interview I did with Laura Kraut had just come out and meeting up with her and her sister Katherine was such fun. And a real confidence boost! Meeting Beezie Madden was also a high point — I’m working on that article now.

Jessica Newman, philanthropist and founder of JustWorld International charity was kind enough to invite me to her nearby farm to visit, which was so exciting. She is a very admirable lady!

But the meeting that affected me most was with my daughter Marissa. Although she is only eighteen, she has been a working student at a farm in North Carolina since May, and I have seen her just a few times since she left. No longer just a working student, Marissa had been promoted before they traveled to Florida, and she now has more responsibilities. I watched her schooling and showing client’s horses in the jumper classes, and helping to run the show barn of 14 horses, and I’m impressed! When I listened to her boss telling me about how much he relied on her and how he wants to help her advance in the horse show world, I was more proud and excited for her than I would be if I were doing it myself!

But all too soon it was time to leave and I found myself crammed into the back of coach in the airplane on my way home. It all caught up with me in the form of flu soon after arriving home. But this trip was certainly worth it, professionally and personally.

Meeting all the people I met was invaluable, and it was such fun to live a little vicariously through my daughter as I watched her ride at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. I’m still smiling just thinking about it.