Click! I was still dozing off in my cozy, warm stall when Alisha, my mom, flicked on the lights in the center aisle. It was much earlier than I remember her ever coming out to give my herd mates and I our yummy breakfast of timothy hay and grain.
As she walked in the door to the main aisle, she said, ¨Good morning, girls!¨ in her cheery, heartwarming, voice that I had learned to love so much.
Not only did this voice remind me that Alisha did really love us all like part of her very own family, but it reminded me that it was time for breakfast!
She walked by each of our stalls and finally, with a ¨Here ya go, sweet Vely!¨ she tossed the two flakes of hay into my stall for me to nibble on.
I loved the way she said my name. She always said it in a way that made me smile, like I was proud to have the name that I did. Some people say that horses can’t smile, but boy, are they wrong.
Alisha always made me smile. Sometimes we went out on long rides together on nice days. Some days she just groomed me for hours, which I loved just as much as the riding. Even when she just leaned on the fence and watched us graze in the field after turning us out for the day. Every single second of the time I had with her made me smile. But today was the day that everything changed.
When I finished eating my breakfast, I waited patiently, like the good girl I am, to be turned out to the pasture for the day. Normally, I was the first one to leave my stall, but today, she saved me for last. When the rest of the horses were out, she took me out of my stall, and led me towards the big door out of the barn. When we walked past the tack room, I noticed something. All of my tack and mound of pink supplies (that was Alisha and I’s favorite color) was gone. Now I was getting confused. She tied me in the cross ties in the aisle way and grabbed my grooming kit from the truck outside. She started to groom me. It was really rainy yesterday during the day, so I was extra muddy. When she finished, she came over to my head and started rubbing it like she knew I loved.
“Listen, Vely,” she said as she continued to scratch my ears. She paused for a while until she finally said, “I love you so much, Vely. I don’t know what I’ll do without you.” She started to cry, and inside, I did too. “You are going to a new place today. You’re going to love it. They’ll be lots of other horses to play with just like here,” she said, as she did her best to keep her words smooth. “If I know one thing about Emily, it’s that she is going to help you find someone who will love you just as much as I do, Vely.”
“Are you ready, girl?” said my dad, Matt, as he popped his head in the barn door.
“She might be, but I don’t think I am,” Alisha said as tears still crept up in her eyes.
I didn’t know what to think. Why would she be giving me away? Did I do something wrong? I mean, yeah, I might have dumped over the water tub a time or two by accident, but would she really give me away for something like that? No, the answer is no. She wouldn’t. Like she said, she loved me and she didn’t want to see me go.
“I’m so sorry. But we both know it’s the best thing for her,” Matt said to Alisha as he came over and untied my lead rope.
“Yeah, I know,” said Alisha
We walked over to the trailer and Alisha put my pink blanket on me for the ride. Matt walked me on the trailer as Alisha shut the door behind me.
“See you there, Vely!” said Matt as he got in the truck and shut the door.
Alisha talked to me through the small window of the trailer. “I’ll come visit if I can. My health is just not fair to you. Have lots of fun. I know you will. I love you, Vely. Bye, sweet girl.¨
Her voice saying my name rang in my head as we rode along. I won’t lie, I was really scared. I didn’t know where I was going, who was going to be there, who this “Emily” was or what everyone was going to think of me.
The trailer finally stopped and pulled into an unfamiliar driveway. I shouted out a loud whinny, just to see if anyone would answer. To my surprise, I heard a loud, but distant whinny back. I tried my best to peek my head out the window of the trailer to see where I was, but all I could see was Matt talking to a lady in barn clothes. I assumed this must be Emily, the lady who was going to find me someone who would love me as much as Alisha did...does.
“Here she is!” Matt said as he walked me off of the trailer.
“Well, hi there, Velvet!” said Emily in a reassuring voice.
Emily walked me into a stall in the barn next to another grey horse, like myself. She smiled at me, which made me feel a little better about the situation. We sniffed noses and squealed a couple times, like horses do, before we got used to each other a little. I was pretty sure that I just made a friend. I took a deep breath for the first time in a while.
“Bye, Vely! Be a good girl!” Matt said as he rubbed my nose for the last time. He got in the truck and drove away. My heart sunk a little. But then, the grey horse beside me came over to me again.
“Vely, right?” she said.
“Yep. That’s me,” I said with slight insecurity, though I tried to not let it show.
“I’m Maggie,” she said.
Just as I was about to say,”Hi, Maggie” something else came out instead. “Do you like it here?” I said, sounding more frantic than I intended.
“I love it here,” she said staring off. “But you know what I’ve found out?”
“It’s not really where you are that makes you happy, it’s who you’re with. I can tell you’re not so sure about this place,” she said.
“You can say that again.¨
“Aww, don’t be. Just stick with me, as much as you can. I’m no good for standing up to the other horses, but I like to think I’m good to talk to, so if you ever need me, I’m here.”
“Thank you, Maggie,” I said with a horsey smile.
I can’t say that the rest of my day was that exciting. I was brought in and out of my stall a lot as people groomed me and met me for the first time. Hours after Emily had left for the day, and Maggie and I were done with our dinner, I nestled myself down in the fresh shavings that Emily provided for me. I had no trouble falling asleep after the day that I had had.
The next morning was pretty reflective of the day before. I ate, I got groomed by people who were new to me and I ate some more.
I was starting to doze off in my stall when Maggie said, “ Vely! Vely! She’s here! She’s here! You gotta wake up!”.
“Oh don’t worry, I’m definitely up now!” I said jokingly to my new friend. I blinked a couple of times to make sure what I said was actually true.
“Oh, sorry. But, look! Remember what I said yesterday about it not being where you are, but who who you’re with that makes you happy?”
“Yes,” I said recalling our first conversation.
“Well, this place might not be all that fancy, but right there is the girl who makes it all worth it. That’s Greta, and she’s my favorite person in the world.”
“She’s like Alisha, my old mom,” I said.
“Yes, almost, but Greta is my mom, owner, rider, and most importantly, best friend.”
I thought about what Maggie said for a minute. That did sound a lot like my Alisha.
Greta walked into the barn and said “Hi, Mags!” as she set her stuff down. “Hi! Who are you, cutie?” she said to me as she rubbed my forehead, exactly the way I liked it. I liked Greta already.
Later that day, after Greta and Maggie were done with their ride, Greta asked Emily if she could groom me.
“Absolutely! She loves being groomed!” said Emily as she passed around hay for each of us. She was definitely right about that!
As Greta groomed me, Emily told her where I came from and my story. “She came from a guy and his wife and the guy used to be in pony club. He used to do a lot of polocrosse. That’s how I know him. But, he called me one day and said that Alisha, his wife, was diagnosed with MS and it wasn’t getting any better. Alisha said that she didn’t think that she would be able to care for Vely the way that she deserved. She wants her to go to a pony club member that will love her the way she does.”
Alisha’s giving me away was making more sense now, though I didn’t understand completely. I listened as she told my story, but I mostly just focused on how good the brush felt on my coat.
“You want another horse, Greta?” Emily laughed.
“I’m sold!” said Greta as she smiled at me.
That day, when Greta’s mom can to pick her up, she came in and said “Hi” to me too. Emily told her my story too. Greta’s mom stroked my head, not exactly the way that Alisha and Greta had done it, but I was still appreciative. Greta said one final goodbye to Maggie and I as she left the barn for the night.
“She’s quite the cutie!” Greta’s mom said to Emily as she got in the car.
“She could be yours!” Emily said half joking, half not.
“We’ll see,” Greta’s mom said through chuckles as she got in the car. “Goodnight!”
Greta’s mom wasn’t sure. Emily wasn’t sure. Greta might not have even been sure, but I knew. Emily’s mission was already accomplished. I had found someone who already seemed to love me as much as Alisha does.
“So there you have it!” Vely said to Maggie as they were finishing up their dinner.
“I can’t believe I’ve never heard that story before!” Maggie said through a mouthful of hay. It was their first night at their new home: Greta’s backyard. Vely and Maggie were officially sisters with Greta as their mom, owner, rider, and most importantly, best friend.
“So, now it’s your turn, Maggie. Tell me about the time when you first met Greta,” Vely said as she recalled, again, what Maggie had told her on her first day, which made complete sense now. It’s not really where you are that makes you happy, it’s who you’re with, and right now, this minute, Vely couldn’t have been any happier.