It's been an adjustment going to the barn. Poco used to be our meeter/greeter. He was one of the few horses I've encountered who knew his name and always came when called. I thought that was pretty special. But then, Poco was special.
Initially I couldn't even look at him. I fed him in silence, tossing his hay inside on the ground of the large double stall which he used to share with Poco instead of placing it in the feeder off of the ground.
I ignored Gus as he stood at the fence watching me. I filled his water trough in silence, rolling up the hose and returning back to the house without a single acknowledgement of the large horse that stood there. I attended Gus in stony silence with as minimal interaction as possible.
As days passed I was able to glance at Gus. I could see the confusion and sadness in his eyes. One could tell that Gus knew he was in trouble but he didn't understand why.
Gus doesn't know what he's done wrong.
Ten days ago I used to greet Gus with a "Hi Gussie!" He'd stand and wait for me in the pasture when I went in to see him. He'd loved it when I threw my arms around his massive neck to hug him. I'd place my arms and cold fingers underneath his thick mane where they'd quickly warm up. Sometimes I'd get as much of me under there as I could to get warm and toasty, inhaling the wonderful scent of horse.
The massive horse had always stood quietly, almost purring. He'd never move an inch until I removed my arms and stepped away. Even then he'd wait a few minutes before moving forward, asking for more hugs.
I never used to think twice about hugging Gus, even when he ate. I felt safe in his presence. I used to love hugging this massive animal with the kind brown eyes as much as he loved receiving the affection.
One of the comments I received when I wrote of Poco's loss was from a reader who reminded me that horses live in the moment. I knew this yet in my pain and anger of loss, I'd forgotten.
Today as I write this I am no longer angry although I still hurt and am sad. I recognize this as a good sign, the first sign of healing. It's not good to carry anger and I know that with time the hurt and sadness will diminish.
Yesterday I took a step in healing. I went out into Gus's pasture and walked up to him. I opened my arms and before I could raise them, Gus lowered his head to me and buried it in my arms. I held that massive head and cried. I cried for that silly mule-eared Appaloosa and I cried for the golden horse who doesn't know what he did wrong. Eventually my tears stopped. Sniffling, I removed my arms and stepped back to look up at Gus.
To see tears in his eyes.