I was concerned. Traveler had scarcely touched his alfalfa hay and sweet grain for two days. He had also refused to go out and exercise in the pasture, one of his favorite things to do. I had a suspicion about what was bothering him. Now it was time to have a heart-to-heart.
“Traveler, are you going to tell me what’s bothering you? Or do I need to have the vet out to look at you?”
“The vet?!” He raised his head in a flash. Uttering that three-letter word, V-E-T, to a horse could prove they have the fastest reaction time of all domesticated animals.
“Well, if you’re going to continue to mope around this barn and not eat, I’m going to call the vet. Or you can tell me what is going on?”
I didn’t want to seem unsympathetic, but with Traveler, being direct was best. His habit of holding in his feelings could easily cause an ulcer. I didn’t want to waste any time finding the cause of the problem because ulcers can lead to a potentially life-threatening issue called colic. Colic is a word that no horse owner ever wants to hear.
Traveler hung his head and whispered, “I miss my friend.”
I walked around to his side and put my arm over his withers. This always comforts Traveler, and he calls it his “side hug.”
“Traveler, we talked about Ranger going to his new home and why that was best, remember?”
“I remember, but now that he is gone, I’m sad and lonely. He was here in the stall next to me for a year, Hay-Woman. We went everywhere together, talked about our goals and dreams, you know—BFFs.”
Ranger had come to me for training. He had a wonderful disposition, and his training went smoothly. He was willing, sweet, and gentle. I fell in love with him too. There is a cheeky saying in the horse world that holds a lot of truth, “horses are like potato chips, it’s hard to have just one.” But when a father contacted me wanting a safe, reliable mount for his teenage daughter, I knew Ranger had found his new home. Making the right decision can be difficult even if you know its best. I admit I wiped more than a few tears when he left.
Still hugging Traveler, I knew he needed comforting more than a lot of rationalizing. We stood in silence. In God’s ever-perfect timing, my phone buzzed an incoming text.
“Look Traveler, the dad just sent this picture.” The photo showed his daughter sitting bareback on Ranger. She was leaning over hugging him around the neck. Both wore smiles as big as Texas.
Traveler looked intently at the picture.
“Hay-Woman, I feel selfish and ashamed. Making this all about me and not giving a thought to that young girl or Ranger. They needed each other. Just like you and me.”
“No reason to feel bad about your feelings, Traveler. We should all keep focused on God’s love for us every day and trust his plans. Even when they aren’t always what we’d choose, his plans are best.”
“Wow, God does have perfect plans, doesn’t he?”
“That’s the truth, my friend.”