For the love of Honey
|Honey & Heather 1991-ish|
I remember looking at her that first evening in our pasture, she was thin enough that you could see her ribs and her eyes looked scared. I remember that the thin, scared look didn't last long. I came across a saying tonight that says "All horses deserve, at least once in their lives, to be loved by a little girl." and I added it to a picture of Honey and Heather. Honey had found what she deserved, a little girl to love her. That little girl loved her more than I believe Honey ever knew was possible from the first moment she saw her.
Over the 20-ish years that Honey was part of our family she and Heather were together more than apart. Heather would take Honey and they would ride in the pasture or away for weekends - or weeks - at a time or you could find them together at the fair.
This beautiful paint, that was happy anywhere Heather took her, muddied up with the best of them, going through mud on the trails, rolling in the dirt in the pasture and cleaned up to a magnificently bright white when given a bath. No matter if she was covered in mud or sparkling clean you could see in her eyes the beauty that was within her and that would shine through after just a few short minutes with her.
It was clear to anyone who saw Heather and Honey together how much love and respect there was. Honey quickly became a favorite to everyone that met her. Heather was always willing to show her off, encouraged curious children (or adults) to pet her, she was proud and time and time again, Honey gave her reason to be.
No matter what Honey did, she had a grace to her, a gentleness that was unmatched and an incredible way to draw you in. She was strong and powerful yet not intimidating or overwhelming. She was captivating in everything she did.
When Heather had her senior class pictures taken, it was a given that Honey would be part of the photo shoot.
Honey wasn't the only horse in our family and they were (and still are) all loved and spoiled but Honey was special to all of us. While she was "Heather's horse" there was just something about her that made her extra special to all of us.
When we had friends visit who had never rode, we put them on Honey. And, with the exception of my friend Sue, Honey was always the most well mannered, best first riding experience. (Honey apparently knew Sue could hold her own and took her for a nice and most likely unforgettable run!)
After my sister, Dawn and I had children, we all knew Honey would be the first horse our children would ride. With 3 of the 4 of Heather's niece & nephew's having Fragile X Syndrome Honey proved that she loved the children and could win them over. Parker, who is the most affected, has only rode one horse in his life - he would squeal, flap and clap his hands as he was led around on Honey. He wouldn't ride often but when he did his face would light up and despite the squealing and active boy on her back, Honey's eyes would light up too.
|Brad, Heather and Honey|
|Parker and Honey|
|Allison, Heather and Honey|
While in the back of my mind I always knew that Honey wouldn't live forever and I watched her gradually slow down over the years nothing could have prepared me for the call from Heather that said it was time to say Goodbye in September of 2009.
We were, in every way, fortunate enough to get to say Goodbye to Honey. You don't always get that with animals - or people - in life. And, if you've never loved an animal it will sound insane to you that I drove an hour and a half to say my goodbyes, my thank yous and let my daughter have one last evening with her. But, it wasn't insane at all, it was a gift and time we cherished.
It was very hard to explain to my then 6 year old daughter that this would be the last time she saw Honey. Her heart was absolutely broken.
There is no doubt in my mind that Honey knew how hard but very important these goodbyes were for us, it was almost like she hung on long enough for everyone from our family (Dawn made the 2 hour drive too) to say goodbye.
Our family has had to say their share of goodbyes to animals over the years. While, individually, we've all had our favorites - Honey was one that deeply touched us all. Even now, almost 4 years later the tears still fall when we talk about Honey. To this day we all miss her...
Before Honey died, Heather braided several sections of her mane, including a section for her niece and all 3 of her nephews. I have all 4 of the braids, all which will (when I get the pictures) go into a frame with a picture of each child with Honey. This was Heather & Honey's gift to each of the kids. My intention always has been (and still is) to get the frames completed as keepsakes for Parker and Allison and my 2 nephews. But I always wished I had something to give to Heather. She has a lock of her mane (or a couple locks) for herself, but in the back of my mind I had always wished for something more.
One day, a couple months ago there was a "page suggestion" on Facebook that appeared in my newsfeed. "Equine Keepsakes, Horsehair Jewelry" and, out of curiosity I clicked the link. I immediately fell in love with the pictures of bracelets and necklaces I was seeing. I read the instructions on what was needed to create one "Hair from the horses tail." Tail. Damn it. The tail? I didn't have tail hair. I had mane hair (which is different). But this was it. This was what I knew I had to have made for Heather. This was what she needed. So - I sent an email, telling our story. I told about Heather, about Honey and of course, about Fragile X. I told about Fragile X not just because I always do but because the mane I would be sending her, was the one that belonged to Parker. I knew I would have to let go of one and Parker, I believed, would be the one would be the most ok with it. It was a braid to him, it didn't have the meaning Allison's did to her.
A short while later I got a response from Aimee (From Equine Keepsakes) her email started with "First, let me tell you I have a brother in law with Fragile X Syndrome" ... Let me just say - THAT does not happen every day!!! I liked her already. She went on to tell me that while she does not typically work with mane hair, she had before and could do this project for me. That was, one of the best emails I've ever received - keeping it a secret and not calling to tell Heather was beyond difficult! I was so excited, I just could not wait - but I did!
I sent Aimee the braid I had, she washed and treated it and worked her magic. While she did I discovered Etsy and ordered the charm I was looking for - a heart that had Honey's name on it. When Aimee sent me the picture of the finished bracelet - I cried. This was going to be the best gift I had every given (or could ever give) to Heather. It's probably the best gift I've ever given in my life to anyone!
When it arrived, I text Heather to see when we could get together because there was no way I could wait until her birthday.
Heather knew, as soon as the lid came off the box and she got a glimpse of the bracelet exactly what it was. There was no need for me to explain, no words needed to be said. She knew. And the tears fell from all of our eyes. This was, the best gift I ever could have given her. A way to keep Honey with her.
If you have a special horse in your life, or have a special person with a special horse in their life - I am telling you right now - really - TODAY - click here and find the page with the instructions on how to order your own keepsake. A portion of every sale from Equine Keepsakes goes to an Equine Rescue Agency. I was so fortunate that Aimee could help us and make this keepsake bracelet for Heather, I wish I had known when Honey was still alive so we could have gotten longer pieces from her tail. Don't wait until you lose that special horse in your life to wish you could have had something... make it happen now while they are alive, healthy and a part of your life. I know, for Allison, she will be getting a special bracelet for her birthday with tail hair from the 2 special horses in her life now.
This is, one of the greatest gifts you could ever give someone who loves a horse. I believe when something good happens, you share that. Aimee did amazing work and I am more than happy to say "GO DO THIS!" but more importantly - Honey is remembered and by doing this and sharing this message - her legacy lives on and will touch the hearts of even more.