In the Summer of 2014, I was sitting in a stall icing Riptide’s hooves with him staring back at me through large trusting, brown eyes. It was 2 AM and the vet left roughly 9 hours ago. Founder. A word that strikes fear deep in the gut of any horse owner, and I was certainly no exception. I was scared to death.
So I did what any sane horse owner does and camped out in his stall on a bucket, armed with a supply of ice from the gas station down the road, an empty feeding tub, cross ties stolen from the barn aisle, and a cot - which I never used.
Every hour I would change out the melting ice and continue my obsessive google search of treatments, therapies, and best case scenarios. Occasionally he would get tired, and I vet wrapped two ice packs to his coronary bands and let him doze stretched out on the floor to alleviate the pressure on his feet.
But as I sat there helplessly rubbing his leg while absentmindedly scrolling through photos on my phone, I was also filled with regret. Regret that all I had to remember my heart horse was a collection of selfies and horse show photos - nothing that actually represented US.
At this point, 5 years had passed with this comical, sensitive, drama queen of a gelding in my life. And only one cellphone drop or water immersion stood between me and all the visual memories of the horse that literally changed my life as a rider, horse lover, and person.
so I sat there maybe a little selfishly crying into his shoulder and dreading I may lose him without taking the time to create genuine moments that truly represented our relationship
Flash forward six months and my beautiful unicorn made a full recovery - a miracle I still thank my amazing God for. A year after his recovery, my friend and fellow photographer Hannah came out to the farm to capture some of those moments I knew best represented us - the way I kiss his nose, the way he rests his head on my shoulder, the belly laughs he gives me, the quiet nosy way he hangs out with me. THESE are the photos I'll remember him by - rather remember us by - when the day arrives to say goodbye.
Regret is a feeling no horse owner should ever have - not when we pour so much of our love and soul into these animals. And I'm sure I'm not the only horse owner who has experienced the fear of loss and pain and forgotten memories. For as big as they are, they are quite fragile, and I felt just how fragile he was with him resting his exhausted head on my shoulder as I changed out the ice around his hoof. I knew, in my heart that day, that I never wanted to feel that fear of regret again and that there was a way I could prevent it for every rider who has ever loved a horse over time or at first sight.
so I made a plan and my plan turned into what you know as Bethany P Photography
If Riptide had never foundered, I don't know if I would have taken the steps I did to be a professional photographer. I don't know if I would have found the personal passion behind the camera or the empathy required to photograph others. I had to come close to the loss - to the regret - to feel the importance of creating memories with photographs.
That unspoken bond is why we spend countless hours with them every day. It’s why we obsessively research feeding plans, training methods, and ailments. It’s why we love the feel of their breath as much as we love the ride. It's why we drag ourselves out to feed or bathe or muck without any question. It's why we feel so passionately that they are not just simply "our horses" but rather our family. It's the WHY behind everything, and it’s worth remembering.
Let’s remember your horse - your bond - forever.
Let's never regret.
xo - Bethany