My Heart Horse

Manderley.

Her name came from an iconic Daphne du Maurier story, the first line of which reads “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

Her barn name was Maddie, and she was the most amazing combination of elegance and bravery I’ve ever seen in a horse. She never once said “no” to anything I asked her to do, and together we horse showed, evented, and foxhunted. She was a racehorse before I bought her, at an auction, for $2500. Our first year together she was the Virginia Horse Show Association Associate year-end reserve champion in Green Hunters, and our second year competing she was the Commonwealth Dressage and Combined Training Association year-end champion at Baby Novice.

The year after that, she escorted my young son and his pony Clever out on their first excursions in the hunt field.

She made me a much better rider. Not just in technique, which is important, but in empathy, feel, and communication, which is even more important. She convinced me we could try anything.

Her life ended suddenly and without explanation. When Maddie was 17, I found her dead in the field. Just a day or so before, I had galloped her bareback across that field in a way that I have never since been able to duplicate with any other horse. I miss that about her more than anything else.

Before she left this earth, Maddie gave me her baby, a colt I named Rainy.  I cherish him for his own unique awesomeness and also because of his connection to my heart.