Empty Nest

My sister was here recently to help me out while my father was in the hospital.  She is much kinder and more patient than I am, so I was very grateful for her help. She is leaving to go home to New Jersey tomorrow.   Tonight before dinner we took the deerhounds for a walk.  In my better days, I could walk four at a time.  Last weekend, I tried three on three leashes and it did not work out too well.  They spotted a man they did not know walking up our street.  Perhaps they found him threatening.   With three hundred pounds of dog lunging and barking, it took all my strength to maintain control.  It turned out to be a very short walk.  Today, my little sister took Magic, who outweighs her by at least 20 pounds, while I took the two Q’s, Queen and Quicksilver.  We had a pleasant time.

As we ended our walk this evening by coming through the back gate, near the barn, Norman the Lipizzaner stuck his head out the stall door and nickered softly.  I said to my sister, “Let’s go visit the horses before we cook dinner.”  Into the barn we went, where the two old geldings called to us with some degree of impatience.  We loaded their mangers with Purina Equine Senior and horse treats and prepared to close up.  As we walked by the closed door of the tack room, I stopped.  I said to my sister, “Do you want to see the saddest thing?”  She looked at me, her eyes questioning, then said yes.

I pulled open the door to the tack room.  In that room there were five closed tack trunks, each stamped with the initials of a family member.  Saddles were cleaned and covered and neatly perched on their racks, ranging in size from a small child’s Western saddle with full Quarter Horse bars, to my husband’s beautiful dressage saddle.  Blankets were washed and wrapped in plastic.  Shipping wraps were bleached white and stacked in place.  Bridles were oiled and ready and bits were gleaming and polished.  But there was no one home—just old framed photographs on the walls.  I said to my sister, “Enjoy your children while you may.  This room is the ghost of childhood past.”

I hope that my children appreciate and look back with fond memories on the years when we would saddle up and ride out together.  It was a special time to me.  Lucky and Harmony and Veronica are gone now, but Dash and Norman and the memories remain.  To me, it was time and love and money well spent, and I hope that my kids, now grown, feel the same.


  1. Having come from a family that spent every weekend for most of my teenaged years schlepping to horseshows, I have the most amazing memories that will be with me forever.

  2. And don’t forget the “Beast” to whom you graciously and lovingly opened your heart and accommodations in his twilight years. The horses, the children (young and old) and the memories they spark will be with us forever. Thank you and your wonderful family for being a part of my memories!

  3. Ah yes, horse shows. That afforded my mother the opportunity to watch me go down with my horse when he hit the solid post-and-rail. I dove headfirst into the ground (damn lucky I can even walk – C5-C6 disc gone now), which would have been bad enough but then my horse continued his forward motion and somersaulted on top of me (the source of my limbo-sacral problems).

    I competed again the next day. I guess I had no idea how brave my mother was to let me continue riding!

  4. I may be the less-stressed sister but certainly no kinder nor more patient considering what you have done to help care for our father the last 3 months. I have every confidence that your 3 amazing kids truly do appreciate the invaluable experience that you rand Richard gave them by allowing them to grow in such a beautiful and unique horse community where riding, horse grooming and endless weekend shows will be permanently etched in their childhood memories. My daughter, on the other hand, had the misfortune to be born into the family where 1/2 of its members break into sneezing and hives around horses and was never encouraged to explore riding – oh well!

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