I stand here with Cherry like I’ve done a hundred times while we wait for our student. Cherry is tacked up and relaxed. Her energy is quiet and she’s aware that I will not be riding her and someone else will. We share space, but today I want to be closer to her. I need to feel her, I observe how her coat is already changing and getting ready for fall, I notice her cowlick where her mane meets the skin on her neck, her tail has many colors, white, black, and grey. Her pink nose is slightly burned and I make a note to make sure we put her fly mask on tomorrow morning. She sighs and shifts her weight, I gently touch her rump and lay my head there. She sighs again.
My mind starts to wander, back a few years to when the barn was really busy. There were kids and parents everywhere. Cherry was busy too, everyone loved riding her no matter what age they were. The two of us taught well over a hundred people together. We teamed up to show them how to have a relationship with a horse, and it was possible to have a relationship with a horse that wasn’t theirs. They got the chance to learn how to walk, trot, and canter on Cherry’s long but beautiful back. They learned how to ground drive, how to lunge her, how to saddle her, how to give her a bath. For 11 years she has been my partner. She’s been rock solid and gentle. She’s been a team player and I hope she thinks that of me as well.
I love this horse, I love teaching. But today we had our last dance with a student. Cherry and I are retiring. It’s a bittersweet day, I did not expect to have so many mixed up feelings swirling through me. I am looking forward to seeing what the future will bring. I look forward to seeing my horses retire and enjoy their new partners who will spoil them and make them feel special. I look forward to spending time with my smaller herd and riding! I also look forward to spending time with my boarders and help them with their horses if they want me to. It’s been a great life. I loved to watch the kids who called me Mama Cheryl grow up. It doesn’t seem possible that the little 7 and 8 year old girls have grown up and have lives as adults. Where did the time go?
I am so thankful for our students. They have taught me more than I ever taught them. I’m going to miss that look in their eyes when they get what I’m explaining, and the look in Cherry’s eye when she softens and places herself in their hands because they earned her trust.
It’s been such an honor to have you all in our lives. I’m a bit sad that it’s time to say goodbye. To all of you that trusted me, I just want to say thank you for……everything.