Here's to people - okay, animals too - who appear to be anonymous, who are "just doing their job" and may even feel they're "just like all the others" but who have actually made a big difference in somebody's life and are special because of who they are.
No Name - it sounds so insignificant but you mean so much to me. You were the first horse, perhaps the first horse ever but at least the first horse in a very long time, who let me experience the second part of that theory: when riding a horse, if you relax, the horse relaxes too and will listen better to your instructions. You were never mean to other horses and if you cut a corner you did not collide with other horses but rather you avoided them. I knew I could trust you, you made me feel safe. One thing you really didn't like was when people fastened the cinch; you became uneasy and would sometimes use your teeth to show you were not pleased. However, occasionally when I stroked your head you seemed to calm down a bit. It felt so great when you responded to my touch like that.
Do you remember that demo that we did a few years ago where we showed people what a handicapped person and a good horse can do? You had to walk around in fairly small circles and I had a feeling you were getting bored so we started to use the other half of the riding arena as well where you could stretch your legs for a bit in a trot or gallop. Remember how Ben then cleared the path for us along the fence of the arena so we had it all to ourselves? I will always love him for that. I felt so free; the world was ours, it was just you and me.
And how did you know I was craving a break from work? Could you sense it somehow? Were you the answer to my prayers? I'd yearned for that break for years but my body just wouldn't give in. Then one Monday evening you made that sudden move, totally unexpected, that caught me off guard and threw me off balance. I fell and broke my arm. Hurray, a 3 months' vacation!
If it hadn't been for you I would not have enjoyed that special first week when I could hardly do anything and did not need to do anything; I lay in bed, the sun shone on my face and in the background I heard the happy sounds of children playing. Mum spent the afternoons at my bedside reading the mail, reading to me. All my thoughts seemed to have gathered quietly around the injured arm; there was no room for anything else, no thoughts racing through my head. It was a small, peaceful world; painful perhaps but peaceful.
If it hadn't been for you I wouldn't have had the fun and felt the triumphs in trying to do things with only one hand.
If it hadn't been for you mum would not have had the break from work she wanted and needed so badly. It gave her body a little time to recover somewhat from the hard work.
And if it had not been for you I would not have met those wonderful people, a few more people to love, and as you well know, to love is to live. There was this wonderful doctor Gaasbeek who may not have done all that much for me (those were his own words), but he was fun. And then of course there is Pieter Bade and his team of physiotherapists. When I first came to his practice I wasn't sure what to expect; he really listened to me and was very understanding. I love people who really listen. Just as he had promised, Pieter Bade stuck around always letting me know he was there until he had made absolutely sure I felt truly comfortable with the therapy and the therapist. But who wouldn't feel comfortable around Nicole? She massaged, guided and stretched my arm back to a pretty normal function with so much attention and patience and a lot of laughter and encouragement. She's like my dear "little sister" Inge-Mar with her gentle touch and her sweet, cheerful personality. Maarten is a great guy; he's a very warm and open person with a beautiful sense of wonder. I really enjoyed my time in physiotherapy even though at times it inevitably hurt. These skilled and caring people create such a positive, welcoming environment.
So you see No Name, you've done a lot of good and you've really enriched my life. The sense of us working as a team and of being able to communicate with you was sensational; you made riding even more fun for me and you brought peace to my life (if only for a while) and love to my heart, forever. Thank you so much for all of that. I hope you will always be happy wherever you are. You deserve it.
Thanks to the Prinses Maxima manege for providing a picture of No Name. They own all the rights to this photograph so if you wish to use or reproduce it in any way or form, please do so only if you have their explicit written permission.