“Shade Of Winner“ – Shady (April 5, 1993- November 24, 2022) 

Thursday, Shady and I walked together in the field for the last time. The sun was warm as we meandered the edges of the field. It welcomed us to stay as the rest of the herd went back in. Shady and I, deep in the presence of the sun and the field, of each other. I secretly wished for this moment to last longer—that time could just stand still. I wanted to fully embrace his essence, to breathe in all that he has been to me and hold it in for just a little longer. But as I sat on the grass and watched him rest in the sun, instead of sadness, I felt an honouring of each other—of our 21 year journey together. 

Our final goodbye nearly dropped me to my knees. And even though my heart aches so deeply and my body cries to be left alone in my sorrow, I know with his guidance I will be able to touch the edges of my grief and slowly let it sink into my body. 

I braided a lock of my hair and a flowering vine with his tail. I then took a lock of his tail to keep with me always. It symbolizes our relationship, the deep connection and love that I know will transcend time and go beyond our physical separation. In life, Shady, you were a master at holding space, and now I hold space for you.

Thank you, Shady, for all you did for me and so many others….you will always be in our hearts. I love you. We love you.

Shady – September 2021 Celebrating 20 years together. 

There are times in life when an event radically alters your journey. Welcoming Shady, my 28-year old gelding, into my life was one of those moments. It was 2001. I was five years into my policing career and just beginning to feel the weight of it. The stresses and challenges were formidable but in the years to follow it was Shady, my solid friend, who kept me from hitting rock bottom. No matter what happened at work, I always felt safe and loved in his presence. 

In the beginning, Shady and I were a team in the competitive field of reining. We not only worked hard together but he helped me create a life outside of work. His creativity and strength in the arena matched mine and allowed me to open up to a new circle of amazing friends. With Shady as my partner I could distract myself from the constant pressures of policing and relax.

Eventually, the stress did catch up to me. Police work became unbearable and I left. I didn’t know at the time that I had a PTSI. All I knew was that I had to leave—that my health depended on it—and it was Shady’s presence that gave me the strength to do so. It was also Shady who helped me begin my healing journey.

Shady was there from the beginning when I first started learning and then practicing Equine Facilitated Wellness and Equine Therapy. As lead horse in the Empowered By Horses team, he partnered with me and then co-facilitated many programs. He was a master at holding space for clients in whatever emotional state they came in with. He quietly mentored other horses. But even more quietly, he was doing his magic on me. With patience and subtle nudges, he helped me see the hollowed out places within that needed more healing. And so I dug deeper.

As my healing progressed, my listening skills opened. I saw that Shady was becoming overwhelmed with groups and the constant demands of meeting new people. Even more so, I saw how forgiving he was when I fumbled or just wasn’t aware enough of his needs. Although he officially retired four years ago with a proud fifteen-year career behind him, he is not forgotten. Kids who grew up with him return to the farm to give him a gentle brush. I see them look into Shady’s eyes and often without words thank him  for being a positive presence in their life.

I want to honour Shady’s voice the way he honored mine but I feel inadequate to come up with the right words to describe what he means to me, and what impact he had, and continues to have, on my life.  I love him deeply and am grateful for each day that he is with me. I cherish the time we have together knowing he is in a 28-year old body. He is my heart horse, my love. On this 20th anniversary, I honour you, Shady.