I took a check and watched as a young woman loaded the mare I raised from a weanling on to her trailer and prepared to drive away. I hurried to my car so I wouldn't have to watch her leave and because I felt that tell-tale prick behind my eye and my throat clamping shut that signaled I was about to sob. Not a polite wiping away of a stray tear, but a gut wrenching, oxygen gulping bawl. You see, even though the mare was going to a lovely new owner and it was the right decision, I still had a hard time saying good-bye. I loved the mare. She has a unique personality and great talent, but she was not a good fit for me. It only took me about eight years to come to that conclusion. Not unlike a marriage or family, our relationship with a horse can be full of love, but that doesn't necessarily mean we can harmoniously live together. This mare was sensitive and intense, a workaholic and a very strong leader. I, in turn, have become a much more casual rider as a result of a demanding work schedule and just "old age." I wanted to enjoy my time together with an equine partner and not have to work or think so hard. Often times a horse comes into our life because we were meant to learn something only that animal can teach. And learn I did from this red mare. She taught me to be straight, how to let go, to perfect my timing, and to let her carry half the responsibility for the ride because she demanded perfection from her rider. I learned my lessons from her, sometimes the hard way, so now another horse will benefit from my improved skills. And another rider--a more accomplished and younger one--will no doubt benefit from teaming up with this special mare and hopefully together reach their full potential together. People come in and out of one's life and so do horses, but never without leaving something behind. But it's never easy saying good-bye, so instead, I'll just say "thanks" to my dear, red mare.