Reflection: Saying goodbye to Bailey

Today’s tidbit: Horses change lives. They give our young people confidence and self-esteem. They provide peace and tranquility to troubled souls. They give us hope!” ― Toni Robinson

The last few years there have been many life changes and chapters closed (read more). Through everything, starting with high school over 10 years ago, the barn was my escape and happy place… riding, taking pictures and enjoying the outdoors. Bailey has always been my constant. We had a long, loving and very eventful journey together. I wouldn’t trade those days, experiences and memories for anything! Like a dog he was a member of the family but it was more than that, it’s something I can’t explain.

The love for a horse is just as complicated as the love for another human being… if you never love a horse, you will never understand.

The day to say goodbye to Bailey finally came, 2 weeks ago this Friday… closing yet another chapter. When I think of him, even now as I reflect, I cry and smile at the same time.

Sneak peek images:

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When riding a horse we leave our fear, troubles, and sadness behind on the ground. — Judi Carlson

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Be sure to click below to read more and check out more pictures. Enjoy!

{background} I have been riding since middle school and got Bailey in high school. Do you remember the blog posts in November? Letting go + show memories and Fall at the barn. Check those out for more info along with pictures from show days, the barn and Bailey.

{the news} In February my mom, sister and I were on a cruise for a week (blog posts coming soon) with limited internet. When I returned I had an email from Bailey’s owner, Suzanne saying that the ponies were going to be moving to Texas March 15th.

She said they have another property outside San Antonio and their custom ranch was just completed. “Wide open spaces, lots of sunshine and sporadic guests to give them attention and take them on trail rides – a beautiful place to be!  This does mean, however, that Bailey will not be close by and I know this will make you sad. He is such a wonderful boy.  You’ll be happy to know that Abby (who has worked with them for years) is flying to Texas to greet them on the other end. I got very sad yesterday thinking of not seeing them daily but I can promise you, they are going to have a brilliant time. I will be there a few days after they arrive to make sure they are settling in well. You are welcome to come out (and ride Itsy too) as much as you’d like until they leave.” 

It totally caught me by surprise. They have a beautiful custom home + barn in Great Falls, VA and I always assumed it’d be his retirement/final home. Luckily with my flexible work schedule, and the weather cooperating after such a terrible cold winter, I was able to go out during the week and 2 weekends in March. Pictures in this post are from my last week at the barn.

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{letting go} Allie and David came home the weekend before Bailey left. It was nice for us to all spend time together, especially at the barn Sunday. David was in charge of Sammy and Allie played photographer. I don’t have many recent pictures of Bailey and I so it was really nice to do a shoot with Allie.

The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit and freedom. — Sharon Ralls Lemon

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There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. — Sir Winston Churchill

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{Bailey and Sammy} My two boys that I absolutely ADORE! Sammy has only met Bailey a few times and wasn’t too sure of the big scary pony. It was very helpful to have David there with Sammy, helping to introduce them… meanwhile Allie was being photographer snapping away 🙂 I absolutely LOVE these moments captured!

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Pictures below: After about 100 pictures of Bailey and Sammy interacting, we finally were able to get them to touch noses along with look at the camera. Love, love, love!

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Always there to nuzzle me!

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{trail ride} Since it’s been a long winter the scenery wasn’t as vibrant, but thankfully it was a nice day to be outside. After riding in the ring we walked along the gravel road, passing barns and heading to trails that led us through the woods and creek. I think Sammy and Bailey both enjoyed it.

Riding is a partnership. The horse lends you his strength, speed and grace, which are greater then yours. For your part, you give him guidance, intelligence and understanding which are greater then his. Together you can achieve a richness that neither can alone. — Lucy Rees

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I love how he’s looking at Allie as we walk by.

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In riding a horse, we borrow freedom.  Helen Thompson

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Heading back to the barn…

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{Allie and David + Bailey} After riding, I got a few shots of Allie and David with Bailey. Although they weren’t that close to him, they know what he means to me and it was bittersweet. So thankful I was able to spend the whole day at the barn with Allie, David, Sammy and Bailey. It was really special and I will cherish these pictures and day forever.

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Love the rays shining here. How adorable are they? 🙂

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After a good grooming and treats I put him back in his stall, as it was almost dinner time. As we pulled out I wasn’t sad because I knew I’d see him again that week. It was a wonderful day together.

{last day + ride} It is a good 1.5+ hour drive each way, but I was able to go out again that Tuesday and Friday. I spent those afternoons at the barn giving Bailey a good grooming, riding in the ring and long trail ride followed by a bath and lots of treats. I also was able to ride Itsy, who is a fun spunky little pony. It was sadder than when I was there with Allie and David because this time I knew I wouldn’t be able to come back and see Bailey… that he would be gone and there wasn’t that comfort knowing I’d have him any more.

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Starting to pack the ponies stuff.

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The world is best viewed through the ears of a horse. 

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All his favorite treats.

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{saying goodbye} Well the time finally came. I turned him out in the pasture with his friends and watched him roll (so much for his bath). Pete and Itsy rolled too and then they all took off galloping. I think they were not only enjoying the warmer weather but also all being together (normally they’re not all in one pasture). As I stood there it really hit me this was it and cried.

You took me to adventure and to love. We two have shared great joy and great sorrow. And now I stand at the gate of the paddock watching you run in an ecstasy of freedom, knowing you will return to stand quietly, loyally, beside me. — Pam Brown

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When your horse follows you without being asked, when he rubs his head on yours, and when you look at him and feel a tingle down your spine…you know you are loved. — John Lyons

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After galloping around they all went to the far side and started grazing. Knowing I would be stuck in bad Friday evening traffic, I said bye Bailey one more time. To my surprise, he looked up and walked over to me. So sweet. After a few more treats and his usual cute antics (short video here), I forced myself to give him one more kiss and walked away crying 🙁 It was SO hard to say goodbye after 10+ years and this face! Goodbye liddo pony, you taught me so many lessons that I will never forget. I will miss you!

I am reminding myself this:

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”  Dr. Seuss

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On a more positive note, I’m grateful I’ve been able to stay in touch and ride for this long after selling him. Although it will be really sad not to see him, I couldn’t have found him better owners. He is an old man now and I know he will be pampered and continue to have a wonderful home with his bud Itsy!

After watching the beautiful sunset, crying and sitting in traffic on the beltway (took me over two hours) I finally reached home and found a sweet email from Suzanne, “I hope you enjoyed your time at the barn this week. Bailey is a wonderful pony and will MISS you!! You have my word that he will be well cared for. We love them and think this is best. You are welcome to visit Texas and we will send pictures and updates. Trust me, he is going to the closest place to pony heaven we can offer… take good care and do feel free to come ride the big guys. Hope to see you soon.” 

Suzanne has since sent an update saying they arrived safely and are settling in well.

… and with that, another chapter closes.

6 Responses to “Reflection: Saying goodbye to Bailey”

  1. Allie says:

    Awww such a nice post of the wonderful bailsman. Sorry to see him move far away from you, but lots of memories to treasure! I hope my (very amateur) photography helped add to the reminders of all the memories you both had together and so glad I got to spend the day with you all and say goodbye to him. Maybe one day we’ll make a trip to Texas to see him in his glorious retirement 🙂 Although it’s another chapter closed, a wonderful new chapter will begin for you soon! <3

    • alyssa says:

      Thank you sissy, I’m so glad you and David could spend that day at the barn with us and capture some wonderful moments and memories that I will cherish forever! Waiting, and actively working on making that new wonderful chapter for me to begin soon too!

  2. Karen says:

    Awww… crying as I read this and look at the pictures, but your intense love outshines the sadness. Beautifully done. You are a proud mama of your liddo pony and rightly so! Allie you did a great job capturing the emotions and love. Munchkin kissing Bailey is priceless! He was an important part of our lives for many years and will be sorely missed but he has earned his retirement in sunny Texas, especially after this cold winter.

    No doubt this love affair is one of those long chapters in your book of life that happen for a good reason. What a challenging and magical experience this has been for everyone involved. He was blessed to have you to rescue him and teach him manners and love. You learned about hard work, determination, falling down and getting back up (literally and figuratively), patience, forgiveness, unconditional love, winning, losing, trust, disappointment, joy, doing your best and working with others. The love you speak of and show in these pictures between horses and their owners is something I have witnessed and felt myself. Selling Bailey was very difficult but you’re right, we could not have found more caring, kind and pampering owners. I am reliving that day and feeling today in your post and am sorry I could not be there to say goodbye this time, but probably better for everyone. I’m glad you were able to spend the day with Allie and David.

    Let’s plan a trip to visit them in Texas. He will probably be a fat, happy pony there in his retirement home 🙂

  3. Sarah says:

    I totally get it, it’s very hard. Horses have always caused so much heartbreak for me honestly. I surely love them a lot to keep going back at it! It’s definitely a blessing you’ve been able to stay in touch and ride him for this long after selling him. Maybe this will make for great vacation opportunities to visit him in TX. You are more than welcome to come hang out at our barn if you want. It’s not as nice as Suzanne’s and Bailey’s not there – but there’s still horses and great people!

  4. Taylor says:

    Horses touch us in so many ways! Beautifully captured and expressed. I can see the love you shared and mixed emotions you’re facing now… Well done and wishing the best for Bailey at his new home.

  5. alyssa says:

    Thank you everyone!! Bailey changed my life and touched my heart is so many ways. I will always be grateful for our time together and the lessons I learned. It is sad not being able to see him, or ride now that the weather is nice again, but I know he has a wonderful loving home still and is being pampered and enjoying his well deserved retirement. <3

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