Regrouping Out at the Barn (With One Less Horse)

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When you lose a member of your equine family (R.I.P, Mr. Tank), you have some adjustments to make.

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If you have other horses, you can't just go AWOL with your grief. You still have to go to the barn or pasture to take care of them.

Which means you have to face that empty halter hanger, that unoccupied stall, that missing unique nicker you know you'll never hear again.

This is a lot harder to do than the non-initiated might ever imagine. When my personal superhorse Ace dropped dead in 2004, I couldn't make myself set foot in the barn for over a month. Fortunately, I was able to rely on Ed to take over the horse chores during that protracted time.

I was able to handle the regrouping process differently--a lot more deliberately--this time around.

* I moved the next-most-senior horse, Corky, into Tank's old stall and run--so it wouldn't be so hauntingly empty.

* I picked Saturday ("the day after") as the day for introducing the youngest horse, Tiffany, to wearing a snaffle and saddle. (While telling her what big shoes she has to live up to.)

* I recalculated all our feed needs, based on having five horses instead of six.

* I retired Tank's signature yellow halter from circulation, with plans to enshrine it, somewhere away from the barn, with the section of his tail I kept.

* Then, I just resolved to accept waiting for more (healing) time to pass.