It’s been a little over one week since Indy (daughter of Invitation Only, who’s in foal and due in April 2021), came to live with us at Flying Chestnut Farm. Being the super cool diva that she is, she stepped off the trailer and promptly found some choice grass to eat. She is as elegant as the day is long, and a lot taller and leggier than she looked when we first met on Independence Day. Maybe I had love goggles on and didn’t see much past her incredibly soft, chocolate-brown eyes that brimmed with complexity and kindness. Her broken withers only added to her intrigue. This was a soulful horse with a story to tell, I thought. Being a novelist, I couldn’t resist the chance to know her, to love her, and to become a part of her journey too.

Truth is, I didn’t expect to bring a 19-year-old broodmare home after the unexpected death of my “Diamond Girl." I say unexpected because even though more than one veteran horsemen told me that at her age (24) and in her medical condition (EMS), it would be hard to outrun the severe case of laminitis that struck her just two months after moving from New Jersey to our little farm in Tennessee. I hoped she would defy the odds. She was as strong willed as horses come, and it appeared for a little while that she was on the mend. Then suddenly, she hit a wall and went downhill. Ever the good girl, she did exactly what I had asked her to do if she wanted to tell me that she was done fighting the battle and the pain. She simply stopped eating. That same morning, she laid down and refused to get up.

The vet came later that morning and helped her cross over, just 3 days after we celebrated our two-year “Gotcha Day” with a carrot and lots of kisses. It felt like she’d been with me so much longer. I loved watching her bloom and how with time and trust, she showed me who she was and what she was about. She didn’t have a mean bone in her Rocky Mountain body, a body that’s now buried in the pasture behind the barn where she went willingly and peacefully, trusting me to the end. I sang to her as she passed, a familiar hymn that I often sang around the barn. She knew I understood her desire to go and that in my heart she’d always be “the best mare in the whole world.” Maybe she also knew something for certain that I can only profess with hope: that death is but a moment in time, a gentle fade into something more splendid. She wasn’t afraid. She didn’t shy away. She trusted that she had fully lived her one wild and precious life.

Now, three weeks later, Indy is here. She can't fill Diamond’s hoof prints, nor should she; but I do believe down to my bones that in time, she will blaze a trail of her own in my heart. Sometimes the question (and answer) is as true for humans as it is for horses:

How long will it take? The time that it takes.