Column: The powerful bond between human and animal

Briitta Suopanki, Staff Writer

I had been horseback riding for more than 10 years, but one day that suddenly ended and it broke my heart.

I think I was 13 when I met Amber, a brown horse with some social issues.

She had lost a foal and gotten depressed, so I started to take care of her and eventually we formed a special bond. She wasn’t my horse, but I was the one who took care of her every day of the week for almost three years.

What most people associated me with was horses. I was the girl who spent more time at the stable than home.

Between the age of six and 16 I didn’t think about much else. I spent every minute I could in the stables and the first thing I thought each morning was how I wished the day could go by faster so I could go there.

I don’t think people can understand how a bond between a human and an animal can grow so strong if they haven’t experienced it. It’s like having someone by your side all the time and he or she doesn’t care who you are, how you look or sound.

I’m sure that the love I felt for horses, and especially Amber, is something you can feel towards anything you’re passionate about, whether it’s an animal, cooking or soccer.

But Amber was sold in October 2006, and I couldn’t afford to buy her, so she went to a riding school in another city. She disappeared from my life just as quickly as she had caught my heart the first day I met her.

And how that broke my heart. I was devastated for months. All I ever knew suddenly changed and I had to learn how to live a life without the one thing I truly loved and was devoted to.

People have told me how they think I did a great job with that horse; how I changed her and how she managed to get over the loss of her foal and actually see happiness in life again.

The months that followed were tough and I was mostly sad, but I didn’t show it to people around me. I never understood how much she meant to me before she was gone. How much the whole thing meant to me; the smell of hay, hoofs against the concrete floor or the snort of a horse who just came in after a ride.

It was my every day routine and I took it for granted.

We’ve been through so much together, Amber and I. Tears, sweat, joy and love. I would have given up my life for that horse. She took a big piece of my heart with her when she was taken away from me. And she still has it.

I haven’t been horseback riding since she left. I tried for a couple of times after that on my friends’ horses, but it wasn’t the same thing. I didn’t want to do it if it couldn’t be the way it used to.

But somehow I managed to live a life without horses. I still think about her, but not everyday anymore. Sometimes when I look at pictures of us together I cry, but I know that my memories will always be there. Because as they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.