This is an article I wrote at the invitation of my goddaughter Verena. Verena is passionate about dog training and has recently graduated f...
Wednesday, 13 April 2011
Today marks a day of remembrance of great memories and a love story – April 13th, 2009 is the day I said farewell to my first Parelli partner and my spirit horse, Jolie Demoiselle, TB. She came into my life well before I knew anything about Natural Horsemanship – I wanted a jumping horse, and she could jump, even though she had pretty much been sitting in a stall for years and declared an unrideable horse. She has a strong tendency to buck her riders off, and so she did the first time I rode her.
In my world, a bucking horse was a jumping horse, and she had great papers and was cheap, so I took her. I trained her and she was a good learner, and we competed in jumping events, and she had talent. Until that day she clearly showed me I had to find another way, and refused to get on a trailer – that day, I found the first Parelli clinic in Quebec and took her there in the hopes of fixing my horse! Oh boy, did I have a lot to learn!
That weekend was the beginning of a new journey and a turning point in my life. Jolie and I finished the old Level 3 together; she was not an easy horse, but I was determined and I loved her. We did the 10 week school together in Florida and she was lame for 7 out of 10 weeks. Yet she gave me everything she had on test day. The day Pat handed me my L3 string was to be the last day I was ever going to ride Jolie.
She suffered a catastrophic failure of her hind suspensories, failure that was subsequently attributed to an advanced onset of DSLD, a chronic and degenerative metabolic disease that is often undiagnosed and misunderstood. At 17, she was retired. I kept her and took care of her for several years, thinking that might be our last few months together. But her spirit was very strong, and she wanted to live, so she did. She lived with my other two mares, was Easter’s best friend and followed us on the trails at liberty for as far and as long as she could. Some days she would trot ahead. Some days, she just walked behind, and if she got too tired, she would just turn back and walk herself back to her paddock.
In 2009, as I was getting ready to head out to the Parelli ranch, I realized she had to come with us. She told me. So I took her, and it was a rough trip for her, but she made it and spent a few months enjoying the Florida grass and sunshine. Then, a few weeks before I was due to go home, she started declining quickly, and I knew the time had come to let her go. We said goodbye on Easter Monday, and that night, a huge storm came through with howling winds, thunder and lightning, and a tornado warning. The next morning, when I got up, her grave was undisturbed despite the storm and I knew she had been set free from pain and disease.
She was my partner and my teacher for over 13 years, and she changed my life. Thanks to her, I found Parelli and I am where I am today. She could read my thoughts and sense my meaning, and our communication was unique. On Easter Monday, Menina and Easter also understood that she was leaving this earth and that her spirit had been released.
Jolie, you were wonderful and a very special friend who taught me so much. You will never be forgotten.