Thursday, November 25, 2010


Like others in the horse blogging world, I've been thinking of Denali and her people. There are things in their story to think about: love and commitment, love and struggle, love and letting go. There are things we'd want to say if only there really were words to end the pain. Words like that don't exist; we can only express our understanding and care, hoping it resonates enough to bring a little comfort.

Dear Denali ~

Standing frightened and confused at that auction yard, you were still a spitfire. We don't know why you ended up in that place, you who were bred to be a racehorse. But you were smart enough to cast your eye about, hoping someone would notice you and get you the hell out of there. Who knows how long you looked. Then you spotted someone who didn't even have a bidder's number. You made eye contact with her and flashed the little spark of your spirit not masked by the drugs you'd been given. Good job. You got her!

Little did she know, huh? But you did. You never won a race, but you won the lottery that day. You loaded like an angel and unloaded like the devil - there was a lot of stress to blow off. It was a risk; she could have turned that trailer right around. Somehow, you knew she wouldn't.

Little did you know, though, that your mom would start writing about you. You were that big, that beautiful, that impossible. You were that important.

One by one, people began to follow the story of you and your mom. Some could relate when she wrote about your craziness, others to reading about your spookiness. Some were inspired by your rides, others by your mom's bravery as she struggled to overcome her nerves. You were big, of course, and a hot-headed Thoroughbred mare bred for one thing and given little education for anything else. She had to take you back to the beginning. It was a journey to follow, and we did.

Some of us winced in recognition when you injured yourself or ran through walls or kicked inept would-be professionals. Always we kept our fingers crossed, because your mom had fallen so deeply in love with you. You knew that. You had long ago charmed her less-horsey husband just to seal the deal.

Many of us smiled at your slavish love of your red treat ball, your possessive nickering and your hammy temper tantrums when your mom didn't come straight to you at the barn. The bond between the two of you only deepened with time. Most of us recognized the power of that and how it helped both of you. It helped some of us, too.

But, Denali, when you reinjured yourself and the horse doctor gave your mom the news about what was really going on, we all understood. And we do. We horse lovers understand what your mom and dad are going through. We understand how they've fought for you, and we understand how they have listened to you. We understand how they care. From our distances, we do too. How could we not?

Only you know what race lies before you now, whether you'll run side by side with your great forebears, Secretariat and Seattle Slew, or you'll happily chase that red treat ball forever. What we know, though, Denali, is what you gave your mom. You gave her strength. You gave her humor. You gave her a community. We hope that one day the memory of you will give her peace.


Ashley said...

This is so sweet... And conveys exactly how we all feel about them. Thank you for putting it into words.

Wolfie said...

An absolutely beautiful tribute. Once again, I am grateful that I have my own office and that I wear waterproof mascara. I have been thinking of Denali and her mom all day and my heart is heavy.

Denali's Mom said...

So now I am sitting her bawling (but no worries, I've been doing it all day.) That was absolutely beautiful, thank you. I'm so glad that my little filly has touched so many people, and that she was loved by so many.

Carol said...

You wrote this so beautifully. I've left a comment or two for Denali's Mom, but just don't know what to say. You said it so well. I'm teary eyed.

allhorsestuff said...

You were, and ARE so wonderful, to put something into worlds about this GREAT heart of a mare~ that touched-so-deeply her caretaker mother and all of us that followed her journey.

Heart breaking, but worth every tear she is, that mare!
She will be missed.
Your tribute is beautiful~