The Silver Lining

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Bridles and Biscuits photography

Arabians are our YourDressage Breed of the Month for July!  One of the oldest horse breeds on earth, and the influence for many other breeds, these elegant horses are easily recognizable with their delicate faces and high tail carriage.  They excel in many sports, particularly endurance riding.

Dressage enthusiasts who ride Arabians have the opportunity to earn special awards through the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards as Arabian Horse Association, North American Shagya-Arabian Society, and Performance Shagya-Arabian Registry are all Participating Organizations.

We recently asked our social media followers to share stories about what makes these horses so special.  Here, a young rider shares about the loss of her beloved horse, and the lessons that can be learned during such a tragic time in the life of an equestrian. 

By Hannah Waroway

For me, February 18, 2021 became the day that all equestrians dread. It was the day that I had to say goodbye to my beloved horse. The emotions, thoughts, and grief I felt seeing him take his last breath and having to continue without him was heartbreaking.

Bridles and Biscuits photography

Cody was an Arabian Welsh cross that was purchased to be a 4-H pony for a young girl. However, he was too strong for her. The family decided to send him to slaughter, but their trainer prevented that from happening. In 2016, one year after this decision, the 14.1h grey found his way into my life. As I was headed into ACL reconstruction surgery later that year, Cody became my silver lining. Though I had a long road of rehabilitation ahead, he was the motivation I needed to get through. He was strong-willed, intelligent, and highly opinionated, but I loved him! He was the first horse that I called my own.

Together, we learned from each other and marked many milestones. From packing around a young rider learning the basics to taking me around a full jump course completely tackless, Cody did it all! Although I taught him skills like how to ride completely tackless, he taught me lessons about life and myself. He taught me how to be resilient, how to persevere, and how to love myself. As I had to make the excruciating decision to let him go on that terrible day in February, I realized just how much of an impact he had made on my life. He had become the constant in my life and the piece of home that I brought with me while I attended college. Soon after his passing, I realized how much his absence left a hole in my daily routine, my life, and in my heart.

The tragedy of losing Cody marked the third animal that I lost in a year and a half. Prior to Cody, I lost another horse I loved like my own, and a dog that had been a part of my life for over a decade. Just like that, I lost every animal I held close, and I felt so alone without them. All three of them were my confidants and partners in crime, and I did not understand why they were ripped away from me so suddenly. However, the loss of Cody broke me. The grief I felt was so overwhelming—suffocating even. Many of you reading this understand this pain firsthand, while others pray that you never experience this type of loss. I sincerely hope that you do not.             

Thoughts, questions, and emotions flooded my mind as I grieved and traced our steps over and over that day. Did I really do everything to help him? Would he have lived if we sent him to the clinic? Did I do enough?

After many sleepless nights, hours of crying, and angrily recounting everything I did that day, I realized the opportunity, or the silver lining in the loss of Cody. You might think, ‘Silver lining? What do you mean there’s opportunity? Your horse was taken from you!’ Well, you are right. He was taken far too soon by a disease that has taken so many lives. Yes, cancer took him, and I will never understand that. However, I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I had to find the good in my seemingly hopeless situation.

Mackenzie Rogers photo

As an introvert, one of the aspects I miss most about having Cody around was my ability to be completely myself around him. I am shy, a bit awkward, and have always grappled with my self-image. With Cody, that all went away. He was my silver lining. No matter the kind of day I had, he greeted me with a gentle nicker and zero judgement. To have that type of outlet during college was just what I needed to learn to be myself, and he taught me well! The more I reflected on the time I had with Cody, the more I realized the magnitude of the impact he had on me. Even through the devastating loss of him, I have found the silver lining. The amount that I have grown, become more confident, and learned to love myself with the help of one four-legged, grey Arabian cross, is incredible.

As my college graduation rapidly approached, I recounted the past four years of my collegiate career. Many of my favorite memories involved Cody. Cody was my respite from academics, athletics, and even life. He was one of the reasons I made it through my undergraduate career successfully, and he has inspired me to continue pursuing my passion for horses. While I completed the remaining three months of my undergraduate career without Cody by my side, the memory of him continued to motivate me to pursue my goals.

Taylor Stephenson photo

In a few days, I leave for New Jersey for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with one of the most well-known and established horsewomen in the world. Beginning next week, I will work for the famed Anne Kursinski. After losing Cody in February, I made a vow to continue pursuing my aspirations of riding and showing professionally. Once I made that promise and chose not to give up, the opportunity to join Anne’s team presented itself—the silver lining of this story. The road to get here has been difficult, but I promise you if you work tirelessly for what you want in life it will work out. Had I known that I would be headed to New Jersey four years ago, I never would have believed it.

If you are struggling with the loss of a beloved equine, know this—you are not alone! I would encourage you to reflect on the time you had together. Find your best memories and recognize the growth you experienced during that time not only as a rider but as a person, too. No matter how many horses we have lost, they have all left indelible hoof prints on our hearts and have impacted our lives forever. Cherish the time you have, reminisce on the memories you made, and always remember the impact those horses have had on you—that is the silver lining.

Related Links:

Information about the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards

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