I took the above photo when four horses graced my backyard. From left to right is Pumpkin Spice, Bear, Fate and Blue.
If you have been reading The Backyard Horse Blog, you may recognize that my twenty-five year old gelding, Bear, is the only current living-member of that group. I am one of the millions of horse-keepers who knows something about the heartache of losing a horse.
Due to my experiences, I was compelled to read Strands of Hope- How to grieve the loss of a horse by Susan Friedland. You may recognize Susan from her successful equestrian blog, Saddle Seeks Horse. The death of Susan’s long-time horse, DC, anchors this book.
The story of the author’s path through grief is echoed by the book’s stories of other equestrians who also experienced the death of a horse. Readers will see that while no two journeys are exactly alike, there are common themes weaved between the varied stories. Readers will feel less alone in their own despair after reading the accounts of others.
“To have the trust of a 1,200-pound animal is an incredible feeling, and the relationship that develops from this faith in one another is hard to describe. And once that partner is gone, it’s quite simply devastating. It’s okay to grieve for a horse the way that you’d grieve for a longtime best friend.” – From “Strands of Hope: How to grieve the loss of a horse”.
I appreciate that the author also included a chapter on the grief associated with early retirement of a horse from riding. The chapter “Death of A Dream” shares one rider’s experience with that issue. Having retired a couple of horse earlier than I expected, the material included in that chapter resonated with me.
Strands of Hope is an organized read, chock full of suggestions and resources to support readers through their own healing. The book is gentle and tender while also practical and useful. For example, one of the exercises Susan suggests is writing a eulogy for your horse. She guides you through the process step by step. Composing written dedications to my horses after their deaths is something I myself found cathartic.
I submitted a five star review of Strands of Hope to Amazon and recommend this book as reading for all equestrians. If you would like to purchase a copy, you can buy it from Amazon or directly from the author’s website at https://saddleseekshorse.com/shop/. While the subject matter is sad, the book is ultimately hopeful, just as its title implies. Strands of Hope reminded me that good things can come out of a painful situation. It affirmed for me the truly special place in our hearts that we hold for horses.