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It’s been six weeks since Bud, our sweet Appaloosa gelding died.

And now we’re coming up on his birthday. On Sunday he’d be thirty. Things have changed since his death. Things that I couldn’t expect.

For one, the Herd of Oldsters is different.

Amigo

Amigo

Earlier this week when I was out feeding Pepper, I had a conversation with one of Amigo’s peeps. She was brushing him down after a ride. She asked how the three of us were doing. I told her we were okay.

“The herd seems lost since Bud died,” she said.

I nodded.

“And I so often see Pepper by herself,” she added.

I nodded again.

“It’s as if they don’t know what to do without him.”

I agreed, a lump forming in my throat.

Grief is sneaky like that. One minute you’re fine and the next, you can’t speak.

She went on to tell me that she’s finding places on Amigo where he’s been kicked or bitten. “I think he’s trying to find a new friend,” she said.

I know it’s the horse way – all that power and posturing – but I don’t like it. I hate thinking that Bud’s best friend is getting beat up.

We stood for a moment or two, tending our horses and enjoying the silence.

“Bud was the glue,” she said. “He held the herd together.”

“I think you’re right,” I said.

This surprised me, but in hindsight I know it to be true. That sweet old Appy was the alpha horse in the Herd of Oldsters. And with him gone, they are struggling to re-group. They will figure it out. I’m confident of that. A new leader will emerge.

It got me thinking though about my own glue.

Who is it that holds me together? How do I re-group when the world seems to be nibbling pieces of me until I’ve lost my center? We all have times when we could benefit from a little glue.

Or a lot of glue!

My glue usually consists of spending time with friends and family. I have a core group of “glue dispensers”. I also find that certain routines help put me back together when I’m feeling like Humpty Dumpty.

One thing I’ve learned as a mosaicist is that all glues are not created equal.

You must find the right glue for each project. And if I may extend the metaphor a little, I think it’s true for us as well. I have many people in my life who each provide a unique kind of glue for me. And there are many activities/routines that offer the same gathering up of my assorted pieces and parts and holding them together.

The key is finding the right glue for the right time.

I would never have thought of it in this way, without my conversation about Bud being the glue in the Herd of Oldsters. I love it that he continues to be one of my teachers.

So I offer this question to you as well: Who’s your glue?

P.S. I’ll be lighting a candle for Bud on Sunday. A few years ago, I acquired a special memory candle for birthdays and other special occasions, to honor those who are no longer with us. It has become a meaningful tradition for me. One tiny way to be mindful.

Happy Birthday Bud!

I recently heard from a friend/colleague who I haven’t been in touch with for awhile. He’d read this blog and shared comments with me. It felt good, because he totally got me. He understood what I was attempting to do. And in three or four sentences, he summarized it perfectly.

Even though we see each other infrequently, he is one of my peeps.

Part of my tribe.

For the first five years of his life, Bud lived in Iowa with a buffalo. He thought he was a buffalo, albeit one with appaloosa markings.

I didn’t know him during his buffalo days, but Rick tells me that the transition from having a buffalo as your BFF to living in a herd with other horses was rough on young Bud.

He missed his big, furry friend.

And the horses were doing a real number on him.

That is until he realized he was younger and stronger than the others, and could kick the you-know-what out of all contenders. Being the alpha horse started to look pretty darned cool.

Then Bud moved to Colorado where he and Miss Pepper became a herd of two. Since 1991, they have known each other; provided companionship for each other; and comforted each other. Starting to sound like a marriage, isn’t it?

Other horses have come and gone but Bud and Pepper are always at the core of their little herd.

They are together, a unit, a pair, a twosome.

Well there was that time a few years back, when Bud fell madly in love with a little redhead. Pepper hung out with the other mares while Bud and Rosie walked around the pasture like they were stuck together with Velcro. I’m certain that Pepper and her friends were dishing dirt about Rosie. They looked like a gaggle of middle school girls, their heads together, watching the lovebirds.

The romance didn’t last long. Pepper knew Rosie was nothing more than a flash in the pan. Soon enough, Rosie moved away and Bud and Pepper were back to their herd of two.

Just a couple of years ago, it was Pepper’s turn for a dalliance. The object of her affection, you wonder?

A mustang.

A big, muscular, redheaded bad boy. We nicknamed him Red, since we didn’t know his real name. We’re creative that way!

And oh, did she love him. I’m saving the juicy details for a separate, slightly R-rated post. You’ll have to keep reading to catch up on that little romance.

Suffice to say, the mustang was her world. She ignored Bud. And he ignored her right back. Way to show her, Bud!

These days, the romance has waned. Pepper lives in a herd of three geldings, including Bud and Red. They protect her from the rambunctious upstarts who live in the same pasture. We like them for that.

She is as likely to follow Bud, as Red.

They are her peeps. Her herd. Her tribe.

It’s something we all need. I notice the older I get, the more I need to connect with people who really know me. How about you?

P.S. What is it with our horses and redheads? I’ll have to think on that one.

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