By: Laura Cull

My darling Hope was with me for ten and half precious years. When our time together began, I had no idea all the incredible ways she would change my life or all the blessed teachings she would impart on me. She became the apple of my eye, my pride and joy, my truest best friend, the best thing that ever happened to me next to my husband. But her life before me wasn’t glorious. She endured many hardships, including having been starved and abandoned at the Armstrong auction, at risk of being sold for slaughter. Thankfully, she was rescued instead.

Hope, August 2008, a year after her rescue

Hope was a registered Thoroughbred and true to her breed, she was all heart and spunk. She also had a tremendous kindness, a love for everyone and every being, and a joy for life that was infectious. I believe it was these qualities that kept her going through all the hard times.

Hope’s lip tattoo was faded making it hard to read. I needed the help of several people with keen eyes to make out enough of it to attempt a search on the Jockey Club’s website. With fingers crossed I entered the details and to my surprise there was only one result that came back. Hope was born Petula Pi on May 5, 1991 on a farm in Oklahoma. How and when she ended up in Canada I’ll never know.

As I learned more about what it meant to be a racehorse I began to understand more about my beloved Hope. The scars on her front legs were evidence of pin- firing. The frantic weaving in a stall were evidence of confinement. Then I learned about how some people try to destroy lip tattoos so the horse can’t be traced.

Suddenly the scarring on her upper lip made sense. Oh, my darling, what have people done to you?

I feel very lucky that I was able to restore Hope’s faith in humans. With me she learned that her future was safe and that I would always provide for her. She let go of her past and embraced life in a way that deeply moved and inspired me. In so doing, she taught me to let go of pain from my own past and to live in the moment for the joys life has to offer.

Hope developed PPID (Cushing’s) and as a result had several health issues that were at times very difficult to manage. My resolve was tested many times but my commitment never wavered. I would take care of her the best I could till the end of her days. Then one day in September 2017, she came down with a bad case of laminitis. I was not ready to say goodbye. I promised Hope that if she recovered and gave me one more year that I wouldn’t put her through another winter.

Within days she bounced back. I would have to keep my promise.

We had a wonderful last year together. Yet as each season passed my heart broke a little more knowing we would never share another spring together, another summer. I spent part of every day with her knowing that once the sun set I would never have that day with her again. I set a date and made all the arrangements.

As I woke on that day the first snow of the year was falling, a sign that I had chosen well. I was with her to the end, never leaving her side, just as I had promised.

I have had many losses in my life but never the deep grief I’ve had over losing Hope. The thought that she is still with me gives me some peace. We never know the gifts that are inside every horse. I am so thankful she was saved at auction.

She was truly one of the greatest blessings of my life.

 August 2018, a special photo shoot to mark our 10th anniversary together