It’s been three years since I said goodbye to my pony soulmate. He chose me, a wild three-year-old pony galloping down to a hesitant eight-year-old girl. He gingerly took an apple from my outstretched hand and in that same gesture, took my heart. We would spend the next 17 years learning from each other, teaching each other, comforting each other, and, mostly, loving each other. I learned what any little girl learns in a barn—the value of hard work, patience, perseverance, and compassion. All my secrets and tears were kept safe in my pony’s ears and fur. All of my insecurities faded away when I was with my pony. Sugar Maple was a pony that comes around only once in a lifetime.
My pony’s dam and two grandcolts found their way into my life. The dam is enjoying a happy semi-retirement, the older colt has a loving home with a former riding student of mine and my mom’s, and then, of course, there’s Snowy. I’m so grateful to have a piece of Sugar still in my life and now so deeply woven into my heart. After I said goodbye to Sugar, I wasn’t sure I would ever love another horse. I didn’t go to the barn for days. Then something happened—my relationship with Snowy deepened. My love for Snowy isn’t the same as was my love for his grandsire, but it is just as deep and profound. Snowy builds on the life lessons Sugar taught me. He reminds me that love comes in many forms. He makes sure I never lose my sense of humor. If Snowy were human, he’d probably be Tony Stark—confident, funny, handsome, and a bit of a pain in the ass. Snowy reminds me that there is always more to learn and room to grow.
Sugar’s memory lives on in my heart and the hearts of all those other children who learned life lessons with him. On this three-year farewell anniversary, I ask you to feel free to share your favorite memories of Sugar if you were a student of his or a parent of one of our students. You can leave them in the comments if you feel so inclined.
Thank you, Sugar, for all you taught me, for your patience, your tolerance, and your love.