One Door Closes, Another Opens…

Before I go any further, I want to thank all of you who read and responded to my last post.  Losing my lovely old horse hit me hard and the genuine sympathy offered by my blogging friends was truly touching.

Now, more than a month later, there are not quite the same pangs walking past his empty stable and I’ve tried to put away things that were specifically his that might catch us unawares, though you can never be sure.

Years ago we lost our first black cat.  She always loved to lick out the last of a cream tub and would emerge from scouring deep to the bottom, her whiskers a cream-tipped halo and a huge Cheshire Cat grin on her lips.  The first time I used up a carton of cream after she’d gone, I just turned to my husband, the empty tub in my hand and we both cried our eyes out.

Sometimes sadness is in the little details.

With Serin, there are still people who don’t know, who ask us how the horses are and, in telling them what has happened, our voices break and the sadness comes gushing back. We’ve pinned up lots of photos of him around the house.  But I never realised before how few were a true likeness.  Most were moments like this!


(If it’s confusing that I’m suddenly referring to Serin, his real name, instead of Aly, it seemed somehow wrong to speak of him so impersonally and use his ”nom de net” now he’s gone.  When I started the blog,  I gave all three horses nicknames based on their colours.  ”Alezan”,  the French  word for chestnut is redolent of Arabian magic and ”Aly” seemed to suit him better than Serin, the name of a little yellow bird!)

There are, however, ways and ways of missing Serin.

A couple of weeks ago I didn’t secure the fence properly and Pom and the Pie went walkabout.  We didn’t realise they’d got out until we saw them canter past the kitchen window.  It didn’t take long to catch them – it was almost suppertime, nearly dark – but they seemed very sweated up and excited to say they had just got onto the lawn and headed for the lane.  I couldn’t check until the next day, but as I barrowed leaves down to the far end of the flower and veg. garden, out of sight of the house, I saw the hoofprints –  hundreds of them.

They must have spent a good half-hour racing round the meandering grass paths and the carefully gravelled parterre, keeping off the flower beds and avoiding the shrubs and hedges, (thank goodness).  But had Serin been there too, there would definitely have been devastation.  Much bigger and clumsier than the other two, he would have panicked and not given a second thought to running through a hedge or a pond.   A first uncomfortable thought. But was it disloyal of me?  I love my garden – I love my horses more, for sure, but I’d have hated to see it trashed.

(Precious about the garden …. moi  😉  … this is a Long Before photo!)


Another uncomfortable, disloyal thought.  There is less worry.  We don’t feel we have to check on the horses quite so often as we used to in case Serin had gone down with colic again.  He must have suffered thirty or more colics in his lifetime and we were always on the alert, knowing that intervening early made all the difference.  This last time, a colic must have set in overnight and we didn’t find him until morning when it was already chronic.

His emphysema was also a constant worry.  Each hot, dry summer was harder for him.  This last year, in spite of the medicines, he had really struggled to breathe and had lost a lot of weight.  It was heartbreaking trying to encourage this once greedy-pig horse to nibble his feed, little by little, from the bucket you were holding and to see his spine so prominent and his neck so sunken.


(Poor boy, just recovered from a previous colic.)

But during the autumn, he had recovered and put on condition, his appetite returned, the light shone in his eye, his coat had regained a burnished sheen and he would canter along manfully behind the others.  By November I was worrying less.

Now we know his heart must have been fatally weakened and it betrayed him in the end.

The worry we have for the other two is different.  Their health niggles are not life-threatening.  That may change, but for the moment we are off higher alert and back to day-to-day levels of worry.

That feels like a weight has been lifted off us.  We now feel we could trust the two ”boys” to a horse sitter, which for the last three years we never dared and so we never felt we could be away from home.  (In some ways it was comparable to the time we spent looking after my mother, when she had Alzheimer’s, though this was a shorter period and we were ten years younger.)

Then there’s the work load.  We are getting older and every day is full.  After two bone-breaking accidents, I’ll never be as fit as I was before, and we were feeling dog-tired.  I know there will be those of you who look after more horses and do all sorts of other things in a day, who may think us wimps.  But tired is tired.  I know I was and I know I am less so now.

It’s complicated, this transition.  We miss our boy so much, but life will be different and not all change is for the worse.

Serin must be nuzzling up to someone influential in horse heaven, because one of my all-time wishes has at last been granted.  We finally found a nice, sound trailer that we could afford within a two-hour drive.  Again, simple, you may think, but the actuality is as rare as hens’ teeth.  We’ve chewed up the kilometers and seen some utter clunkers.  On the upside, we’ve also driven through some lovely, off-the-beaten-track countryside on glorious days, met some interesting people and seen their equally interesting houses.

If the price of diesel hadn’t been heading for stratospheric, we could have continued on in this fashion for a while, except that I was getting dispirited.  Pom and I have a few good years ahead of us, but no point waiting too long for wheels.  Transport means Pom and I can get to ride with my Australian friend and her Spanish horse.  Wheels will spirit us to the group trail rides and dressage lessons I have been dreaming about.

Where there are wheels, there will be a way…… (sorry!)  A way to get back my Cavalière Attitude.  (And I have always intended this to mean “horsewoman’s” – not “offhand” as in cavalier attitude, the usual phrase.)


(New trailer, previously owned and well cared for by the mounted police!)

So, I apologise for a long absence this autumn, but I didn’t want my cavalière attitude to sound like a defeatist attitude.  And now, I can look towards the New Year, with all sorts of possibilities, and know my darling Serin has allowed me to open up a new chapter.

Our continuing adventures with Pom, the Pie and (my best Christmas present ever) the trailer will begin in the New Year.  I hope there will be lots to blog about.

Meanwhile I wish you a wonderful end to your year;  a Merry Christmas with good cheer and lovely presents if that is your choice.  Or peace, quiet and bringing on the new, if you prefer.

Thanks for reading and thanks especially for your support …..

carte ancienne noel885

(Image from with thanks)


About cavaliereattitude

Englishwoman, transplanted to SW France in '86, blogging - with a large dose of humour and self-deprecation - about life with my husband and our horses, the never-ending renovation of an ancient and crumbly stone farmhouse and the attempt to carve a beautiful garden and productive pasture out of a woodland wilderness.........
This entry was posted in Christmas, equitation, Gardening, Horses, Living in France, Riding, Rural Living, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to One Door Closes, Another Opens…

  1. Delighted to hear you found a decent trailer at last. I hope it will give you a “lift” through the rest of the winter as you start to drive Pom around the place.
    Have a lovely Christmas & best wishes for 2013


    • Martine, I wish I had your energy and it always gives me a boost to read your posts (especially the Friday restaurant reviews!). Hope you’re continuing to have a blast in the US – all you’re missing in France is …drizzle. Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année 😀


  2. ptigris213 says:

    what an utterly wonderful and poignant post, my dear friend. I never took your posts as defeatist. As we say here in the US, when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. You dealt with two bone breaks in a year…that’s more than most of us deal with in a lifetime, and then the issue with the trailer hunt and now losing wonderful Serin. I wouldn’t say defeatist. It takes courage and determination to make it through the bad times.
    This New Year’s brings you a release from worry and trailer hunting. A Merry Christmas to you, and Happy New Year!


  3. My farm population is growing old too. I have several elders now and I share that bittersweet, good-news/bad-news/life-goes-on reality with you. Sometimes maturity is a bitter disappointment. Wishing you a wonderful new year, through the door on the horse trailer to adventure and horse love bigger and fuller than ever. With Aly’s blessing, I am sure.


  4. Twohorses says:

    It is so hard to say goodbye to a beloved horse. They are so big and their energy is so huge and it seems to me that our grief is accordingly. When a couple of years ago I had to make the decision to let my beloved thoroughbred Brego go humanely, my grief was so overwhelming people thought my husband had died (ahem). I’m so glad you finally found a trailer and I’m looking forward to reading about it! Happy New Year to you and yours, and love from Ireland

    (and OMG I’m still jealous of your fantastic gardens! 🙂 )


    • Thank you TH. I’m sorry you had to go through such a hard time with your Brego – I do think having to make the decision makes everything far more fraught with conflicting emotions. Big as they are they are also our children and our total responsibility and the sorrow seems purer and deeper somehow. I can’t comment on your feelings for your husband 😉 but there are definitely times when, if it was a choice between mine and the horses ……
      I’m ignoring the garden at the moment and can’t pretend it looks anything like the photo – instead I’m getting to grips with the trailer!
      I’ve been fascinated by your posts on Cassie’s hooves; too ignorant to comment (everything to learn about barefoot!) but glad there’s an improvement which hopefully leads to more riding for you both. A very “Bonne Année” to you and yours!


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