Tomorrow, I give my horse away. Now, this might sound like a ridiculous thing that only a privileged white girl would experience, but humor me for a minute....
On April 4, 2001, my parents bought Lexington for my brother, my sister, and me. I was 14 years old at the time, and Lexington had just turned 4, also entering the young adulthood phase of life. We grew up together.
|2001 - our first year with Lexington|
For thirteen and a half years, I have owned this horse. For most of that time, I've really been the sole owner, as my brother and sister eventually lost interest. I took care of him when he was sick, and he saw me through some of the hardest times of my life-- a really rough patch in my parents' marriage, depression, broken friendships and relationships, big life changes. Whatever it was, I would come to the barn, brush my horse or go for a ride, and forget it all. After all, you can't think about anything else when a 1200 lb. animal is relying on your for directions. Riding was my therapy. Being a rider is who I was.
Over thirteen years, I earned Lexington's respect and trust, and he earned mine. I've seen people try to ride him, and sometimes, he simply will not move for them, but I can always get him to go with just a few verbal cues and a little squeeze. If I lead him into a scary situation, he doesn't bolt, but waits for my reassurance. These are things that suggest we have a friendship, even though we are two different species.
Giving up Lexington is a major life alteration, a huge transition. It marks the end of so much for me. I can't just run off and ride when I'm stressed anymore. I won't have my horse best friend to get me through rough patches. I won't be going to the same barn where I've been riding for 16 years now and seeing the same people week after week, my little campers grown from children to college graduates. I have always been an equestrian, and after this moment, I do not know that it will be possible to be that person anymore. It feels like I'm giving up a part of my identity. I'm also seeing the end to my connection to my youth, detaching from yet another thing that I saw as constant throughout my life. At the moment, this is all completely overwhelming.
|2010 - our last show - he took 2nd place|
I'm sure that many people would look from the outside and see my anxiety in this situation as ridiculous-- someone of privilege complaining that she had to give up her pony when people have "real problems," like poverty. I acknowledge that my situation is in no way life-threatening and that people do have problems that affect their well-being in more substantial ways, but the anxiety is real, and the fear of change is something most people have experienced. And that is what I'm asking readers to consider. Transitions are great because they bring new opportunities, but they can also be incredibly paralyzing.
How many people are facing these life transitions--students, colleagues, people we pass on the street-- and what kind of support do we offer, individually and institutionally? Is the best remedy really to throw yourself into your work, or is to walk away from everything for a short time? Should we blame people who become paralyzed in these transitions for not doing what they are supposed to do? Is it their own shortcomings that keeps them from moving forward in moments of change? As I attempt to adapt and evolve, these are questions that I can't help but ask myself, questions that affect how I treat others and set expectations for myself. I do not know the answers, but what I do see is that we should not underestimate the impact of transitions on people's lives, even when they seem superficial to us.