A Loss

I am sorry to share some sad news for my two-legged and four-legged family. My mom’s horse, Chloe, passed away last Thursday. Chloe was overcome by an unknown attack on her Central Nervous System, which caused sudden and severe flaccid paralysis that led to her death. We are awaiting tests that will hopefully give us some much-needed answers as we cope with this loss. Chloe was 9 years old.

Chloe was one of the most spectacular horses I have had the pleasure of meeting, working with, and having assist me in teaching horsemanship. Chloe was not only beautiful, but her mind was brilliant, soft, kind, tolerant and intelligent beyond the average horse. We worked together to teach beginners through experienced riders, a feat that not many horses can accomplish with so much grace and patience. Those of you lucky enough to have lessons with Chloe most likely heard me say that she was the perfect lesson horse, because she was not only well educated and safe, but she would perfectly mirror your own issues and behaviors. We all like to talk about how horses mirror our souls, but few can do this quite so effectively and transparently as Chloe could. It was a tribute to her sensitivity and intelligence that she could do this so well. On top of that great talent, when you got something right with Chloe you could hardly miss it. She was like riding every perfect horse you have ever ridden put into one. I am a professional trainer, all I do is ride horses, and for a horse to stand out from the crowd they must be really special.

Chloe came into my life because I was searching for the perfect horse for my mom, Carol, as she finally was able to have her life long dream of having a horse companion. We searched and searched and searched. I narrowed it down to a few horses to show my mom in person and Chloe was the first we visited. I knew as soon as I was handed Chloe’s lead that I wanted her. I could feel it through the lead rope without my eyes open if I had to. But I tried hard to cover my excitement and even tried to talk my mom out of buying such a smart, sensitive mare as her first horse. My mom saw through me right to Chloe, and bought her any ways. I was so happy she did.

Chloe spent a little over a year at my place until my mom could move and have a place in her backyard for horses. Chloe and I worked together, but she also helped me teach some valuable lessons to a variety of students. Many found Chloe frustrating at the beginning, and I kept saying, keep trying, you are only hitting yourself head on and I promise, Chloe is worth working through that. Every person who kept going eventually had a moment with Chloe that showed them what I saw in her immediately; that she was special and the only one standing in the way of a perfect ride was themselves because Chloe was ready. I have never had a horse so consistently teach that lesson with so little help from me.

Besides all this, I am so grateful that Chloe helped my mom live her dream. There were times in my childhood where my mom would drive over an hour in Chicago traffic to drop me off at the barn, turn around with my little sister in the car and go home, only to pack up my sister and pick me up in rush hour at the end of the day. She sometimes spent over five hours in the car in one day so that I could work all day with horses and learn the value of horses, money and hard work. She didn’t have to do that, she could have simply taken me to the barn for an hour once a week for a lesson, or not at all, like so many parents do. But she chose to sacrifice her own time and probably some sanity to make sure I learned something and followed a passion that is now the only way I have supported myself financially and emotionally in my adult life.

I cannot begin to explain the gratitude I have for her commitment to my horsemanship and helping her find, purchase and train Chloe was one small way of saying thank you. Beyond the loss of a horse I loved, I am heartbroken that this wonderful partnership was so short lived. I cannot dwell too much on what was lost without becoming so grateful that my mom was able to know a horse like Chloe. I truly believe that even a short time with a horse like that in your life, in your backyard and in your heart is the gift of a lifetime. Any future horses my mom, and anyone else who learned with Chloe, touches are going to be thankful for the life of Chloe.

All of us who love animals so completely know the pain that those who loved Chloe are in, particularly my mom who loved her more than everyone else combined. I am comforted by the knowledge that only a life full of love can bring such feelings of grief and thankful that this sort of life was a part of my family.