Ten years ago today was September 15, 2001. It was the day I picked up my mare, Candy, at the Parelli Ranch in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. It was also four days after the 9/11 attacks on our country. Diana and I had planned the trip for months, but suddenly the world had been turned upside down. Like everyone else, we struggled to process what had happened and what it meant for the future.

At first it was unthinkable to tend to everyday matters, but as the days crawled by, people not directly affected by the attacks began trying to put a little normalcy back into their lives. For us, that meant going to get two new horses.

Signs of patriotism were everywhere, especially along old highway 666 in western New Mexico, where American flags flew proudly and Navajo women gave away swatches of red ribbon from their roadside jewelry stands. At the Parelli Ranch, the mood was somber, but it was good to be with our friends and fellow horse lovers. The next day, with new horses in tow, Diana and I headed for our home in Phoenix. Dark skies and pounding rain gave the drive a surreal quality and made conversation nearly impossible. Neither of us felt much like talking, anyway.

It has taken ten years for me to feel fully connected to Candy. I suppose I could have pressed the issue but somehow that didn’t feel right. The depth of the relationship we have now was worth the wait. I enjoy this beautiful, sweet horse every day, and never far from my mind is the memory of our first week together. It’s a bittersweet memory for me, but I want to keep it alive. It’s important to remember how that week felt.