The barn is empty, sort of. It is still inhabited by our faithful barn cats, my ancient and faithful Tahoe, and around 175 bales of hay. But Rico and Inky have moved for the duration to our trainer's lovely new facility, complete with indoor arena for trouble free winter riding.
I'm feeling very much like a ship without sails or rudder to give me direction. My morning routine of feeding, stall cleaning, pasture maintenance, etc., has been replaced with a quick trip to someone else's barn, where I can visit my horse, take a quick ride, throw some hay, and then leave. The soft nicker that greeted me upon opening my back door for the past 8 years has been replaced by screams for the barn owner who now feeds him and turns him out with his new herd. I am only the person who comes every day, gives him a little hay, and makes him WORK, so obviously not his favorite.
I do not know if Inky will ever return. For all his quirks, I love him, and will miss him if he does not, but his girl likes the freedom of leaving the day to day care to someone else, and the ability to ride year round. I sent Rico along to give her time to adjust to the realities of boarding, both financially and emotionally, and to delay the finality of replacing Inky so that he could return if boarding does not work out for them.
But barring a complete turn around in my personality, injury, illness or death, I have decided that Rico WILL be coming home in the spring I'm one of those bizarre creatures, called a horsewoman, who loves the daily routine of cleaning stalls, pasture maintenance, and just being able to walk out the back door at night to listen to the sound of munching hay. Caring for Rico is the rudder that keeps me on course.
So I will spend my winter dreaming of spring. At least I'm riding more. And when I get really depressed, I remind myself that I may be horse shopping in the spring! Or sooner.