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We horse owners get a little shock of panic every time we see a gate that’s been left open. It usually means somebody has escaped who needs us to find them before any harm comes their way. Today the open paddock gate keeps catching my eye, but the feeling is sadness not panic. The occupant has left, but he will never return, no matter how often or how hard I look for him. The fence rail no longer has his beautiful head hanging over it and gone are the low welcoming whinnies. The open gate and the empty area beyond feel lonely and wrong.

I once was told I’m not a very good country girl if every bit of suffering and death at the Ranch touches me so deeply. If that’s true, then I’m a terrible country girl ‘cuz I’m hurting pretty good right now. Every person and animal at Stillwater Ranch means so much to me, and I would never change that, no matter how painful it is at times. The joy, love, and blessings greatly outweigh the agony.

I could just shut and lock that gate in an attempt to protect myself from future pain. Instead, I think I’ll shed the tears that need to be shed then fill that paddock with some more animals that need to love and be loved. That’s how it works here at Stillwater Ranch. That’s just how the good Lord made me.

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