My remarkable therapy horse Jake has been my co-therapist for 16 years. He was five when I bought him. I almost didn’t consider him because I thought it would be crazy to use a five year old as a psychotherapy horse. Thankfully I was convinced to try him. The first thing I noticed was the white tear that seems to roll down from his blue eye through the black marking on his face. That tear, and his soulful character stole the hearts of many children and adolescents.
He has been a brilliant partner who has guided my therapy clients towards insight and healing in a way that I could never have done alone. However, recently he pulled his meniscus and needs to be retired. He’ll be going down to Missi Cool’s farm, Honeysuckle Hill, in Tennessee with his best friend and retired therapy pony Orion. Both Jake and Orion helped many children, and a few adults. I’m very sad to say goodbye, but Missi has 55 beautiful acres down there, and a herd of horses they will love to join.
It would be selfish of me to keep Jake here at Bear Spot even though I’m not sure I can bear not seeing him out in his paddock each day.
Here is my farewell to Jake:
Ode to a Therapy Horse: Jake
Many Ode’s begin with Thou,
And certainly “Thou” is the proper pronoun here
Buber would agree.
Keat’s Urn was frozen in time,
But of course you are not,
Time wears on,
We get old together,
And you deserve rolling acres of green grass
And a herd of horses that pull you
You carried many a child’s woes,
Adults’ imbalances, their unbearable anxieties,
Painful stories, celebrations,
Like a donkey, burdened by human need,
Human baggage so high, protruding over your sides, and
Towering over your back,
You carried more than your share.
So much. So many.
And you did it as though it was no weight at all,
Offering gifts for each human,
Like the mirrors in great literature,
They saw themselves more clearly through you,
And, almost all of them fell in love with you,
As they learned to speak to you,
You spoke to them
And showed them themselves.
The child who despised herself
Lines of scars from cutting deep into abhorrent skin,
She saw her skin through your fur,
And learned to touch again,
Feel her glistening coat through yours.
The teen who found her existence elusive,
And could find no reason
She should exist in the world.
You laid your head on her shoulder,
Rested it there,
And showed her how real she was.
The adult who endured so many medical traumas,
Weighed down by memories of physical pain,
And the attempt to face the
You carried all of that,
And told her to leave those stories with you,
And go on,
So she could give her gifts to others.
The child who had no self
Who couldn’t get to school,
Who couldn’t get out of bed,
Who couldn’t make a friend,
Who couldn’t eat,
Who couldn’t sleep,
You carried all of them.
You carried me.
As we both walked and listened.
And went round and round.
Me attached to you through a line,
Shoulder to shoulder.
I am ever grateful.
Thank you Jake.