Knight, now 28, was recently re-united after 15 long years apart from his best friend, Darath Smith. Knight was cruelly ripped from Darath’s life & their path back to each other is amazing. When I read her story, my heart was heavy for days as I knew I wanted to capture their bond soon. It took a little persuasion and mother nature cooperating to accomplish my goal. It may be a blessing and a curse, but I become extremely emotionally invested in the lives of animals, especially ones who are aging or ill. This can be mentally exhausting because of all the pressure I put on myself to provide the perfect memories to those who choose me. I pride myself in creating uplifting experiences to celebrate the life of each pet. This was a special case because not only was it the first horse I had ever photographed, it was so important to me that I captured her and Knight exactly how she would want to remember them forever. After the session, I used the P word and promised Darath she would be pleased with the photos, despite some of her initial reservations. That is a bold statement but I knew I could make it happen. I want to give a special thank you to my rock, my partner and faithful assistant, Aaron. He occasionally comes along to shoots with me and helps me carry my bags, handles props and even lets me use him as a ladder for the perfect angle. Being 5 feet tall can be a slight hindrance in the photography world.
Leading up to the shoot, I will let you in on a little secret. I was petrified! I had never been more nervous about a shoot in my entire life. Of course I couldn’t let Darath know this because she was nervous enough on her own. I had been experiencing a bit of burnout lately in photography. Juggling a full time day job, trying to maintain a normal social life and handling a photography business on the side can be overwhelming to say the least. I started feeling like photography projects were a chore. That upset me. Where did my passion go? Well, I found it last night. After a magical shoot, I stayed up until 1 a.m. processing my favorite photos. I woke up early like a kid on Christmas (and for those that know me, I am NOT a morning person) and couldn’t wait to edit and post more photos. I so appreciate the feedback and support I get from my Facebook followers who keep me going even when I want to stop. For those of you that have not read the amazing story, check out the link and article below by Darath. She is a beautiful writer and I cry every time I read her heartfelt words. I am proud to call her my friend and fellow animal advocate and rescuer. Thank you for letting me experience this journey with you, my friend. Knight most certainly saved you, but he brought back my passion, and for that – he saved me too.
The Heart Doesn’t Forget
Try as you may, it’s impossible to get over one monumental moment in your life. You can ignore it and pretend that it doesn’t exist but somehow, it’s always there, in the back of your mind and weighing on your heart. They say that true love comes along but once. For me, it’s come along more than that. They say that there is one soul mate out there but for me, I know that there are more. Problem with all of this is that I just have to be different from “the norm” or “what’s supposed to be”.
Fifteen years ago, I lost my very best friend. While everyone is quick to imagine my best friend dying or moving away, my story is different. Fifteen years ago, my best friend was taken from me and he was sold while I was away visiting my mom.
Many of my readers are personal friends of mine, who know about my past and my childhood. But for each that knows my story, there is one that doesn’t. To sum it up, my childhood was terrible thanks to the pummeling fists and lashing words of my step-dad. When I was called a “stupid bitch” or I was punched, I’d gather my composure and I would run to the solace of my best friend. When I was recovering from surgery to repair my face after my step-dad kicked it in, I had a best friend that didn’t laugh at me when he saw me. He accepted me for who I was, just a girl. Together, we could do anything. He was my rock, my love and my everything. My best friend was a black Arabian stallion. While so many of my friends were dreaming of beautiful, galloping horses, I lived the dream. With him, I was indestructible. With him, I could pick myself up and ride off into the sunset.
For 13 years, I had my best friend by my side and then one day, he was gone. His disappearance was one of the cruelest things I’ve ever had to make it through. Hell, it was even worse than a broken face. Throw all the horrible words at me, smash my face into a bloody pulp, stab me in the back with a pitchfork… none of that was worse than losing my horse.
After I found out about my husband’s affair, I grabbed my son and I headed to visit my mom out-of-state. While I was gone, my ex decided that it was time to liquidate some assets and the first thing that he started with was my horse. MY HORSE. The horse that I had raised, the horse that I halter broke, that I broke to ride, that I trained and that I even went on to win at The American Royal with. I came home and my horse was gone. I called the Registry immediately and I told them that he had been stolen. I told them that I could prove that I was out-of-state and that I hadn’t signed any papers transferring him over. I begged to know the name of the person that bought him but they couldn’t tell me anything. Then they told me that because of how I had added my husband’s name to the registration papers, I had sealed my fate and everything was legal. Sadly, it was true.
Of course, my husband wasn’t forthcoming with any information on who bought my horse so I watched and waited for his ownership to be transferred. The minute that it happened, I searched for phone numbers so I could call the owner but I couldn’t get anywhere. All I had was a name, a name that haunted me every moment of every day. Years passed and I kept searching.
In 2005, 7 years after he was sold, I finally found a phone number for the man who purchased Knight. I played out the conversation in my mind a billion times and finally one day I called him. The man on the other end of the line was as nice as could be. He listened to my story and then he told me to “come on out and visit”. I loaded up and was there in an instant.
As I walked into the barn that day, the dust particles caught in the sun’s rays and they twinkled like stars. When the stall door slid open and I laid my eyes on him, I could see that he recognized me. When I leaned my hand out for him to smell me, he pushed away and walked past it, directly up to me. He looked me in the eye and in an instant, his neck stretched out and his head draped across my shoulder and he hugged me, just like he had done a billion times before.
Walking away from the barn that day was the hardest thing. His owner loved him and they were happy. I tried as hard as I could to be happy for them but I couldn’t. My heart ached.
All of these years have passed and I couldn’t forget about my beloved horse and the chunk of my heart that he took with him when he left. I thought of him often and told anyone that would listen just how amazing he was. Because no other horse could ever compare, I never owned another one. Nothing would ever be the same.
In January, all of that changed when a beautiful and obnoxious Arabian colt came into the world. It changed because I allowed it. When I heard that he was coming, I asked my mom if I could have him. The colt, was a great-grandson of my best pal. I told myself that a horse would be nice now and I promised myself that enjoying one would never mean that I loved Knight any less. The day the colt was born, I couldn’t believe it. Not only did he come out a stud but he was also black, just like his great-grandfather. He was perfect.
We picked Ziggy up on a rainy day in May. From the moment my hand touched him, I knew that my life would never be the same. It was like Knight came back to me. The feeling was mutual and we bonded instantly. While life is insane and incredibly hectic now, it is finally complete. That was, until today.
Out of nowhere, I got a call today from Knight’s current owner. He said that he needed to find a home for him and he thought that I would be a good fit. He said “come get him”. What? What just happened? Is this some type of joke? I said, “He’s still alive?”. It’s all I could think to say. For the whole conversation, I was in shock. What? After all these years, he can come home to me?
When I hung up the phone, I was still in shock. And then, it hit me like Hurricane Katrina. I was devastated. How could something that I dreamed of and longed for cause me so much pain? How could the thought of being reunited with my best friend be anything but joyous? And then, the tears came. Sobs that shook my body and made my hands tremble and my knees give way when I tried to stand.
After 15 years away, my boy can come home to me? What for? To die? He’s 28 and not in the best of health… so what the hell am I doing by agreeing to pick him up?
I have to take deep breaths and slowly count to 10… and then 1,000.
Yes, I am bringing him home with me. Yes, I’m bringing him home to die. Yes, we don’t have much time. But more importantly, yes, my best friend is coming home. After all, it’s the way it always should have been.
To every girl that waits for her “Knight in Shining Armour”, keep the dream alive. I had given up but now, my “Knight” is coming home. Hang in there SG Black Knight. We’ll be together before we know it. Our story will have the ending that it was always meant to have. We began our lives together and so we shall now end it that way. Our final chapter has only begun…