More Than Just A Saddle…
Giving up one love, for another takes courage and selflessness…
Read Monica’s story of how she fulfilled a promise to ride again after losing her daughter Jasmine with the aid of our Saddle Design Team.
Our brave customer from Sweden, shares her story, in her own words…
We admire her courage and bravery, and most of all, the extent of her love for her Jasmine.
Her Signature Australian Halfbreed Saddle is more than just a saddle… Here is why.
As most mothers will understand, no one else would be good enough to take care of my sick child more than I was.
My name is Monica Wedekind, and I am a mother to an angel.
Since I was 6 years old, I have never been without a horse, I am 51 now. They have been one of my biggest passions, my biggest dreams from when I was little, one of the most important things in my life. Then horses ceased to exist for me with just one sentence, “We found a tumor in your daughters’ brain”.
When cancer entered my world in December 2014, any and everything that held meaning disappeared. Only Jasmine mattered. Knowing you have a battle in front of you that you WILL lose eventually, really puts your life into perspective with the things that are important. From a vivacious fun-loving incredibly smart outgoing young girl of 14 to a girl you could hardly recognize from being swollen from all the meds she had to take, no hair, that was now paralyzed on her right side and basically had little to no short-term memory left as the aftereffects of a stroke during emergency surgery. Which meant she could not be left alone for a minute, someone always had to be with her. As most mothers will understand, no one else would be good enough to take care of my sick child more than I was. In the 368 days she lived after diagnoses, I never once visited my horses.
Her memory was tricky, the information she received went in, but she could not retrieve it herself without help or cues. She knew she had cancer, but she told us herself not to be reminded that she was terminal, she would just forget the conversations anyway.
Every once in a great while she could remember and remember it all (for a very short time) as if it was the first time hearing it. Towards the last week of her life one day, I caught her staring at me intently, I asked if she was ok, and she answered no. She then began a list of demands and promises I HAD to keep. One being I must find my way back to the horses, find my passion again as she put it. She knew me so well, and now I see she was trying to save me, make sure I will be ok after she was gone.
Keeping the promises I made that day was my only mission for the first couple of years. Checking off her own bucket list with her friends and family kept me going, just knowing I still could do things for her. If I could do things for her, then she cannot possibly be gone, could she? And I cannot imagine how I would have survived without having those duties to fulfill. Her knowing me so well, knowing what I needed to hear/do, gives me a satisfaction that yes, we truly had a strong bond between us.
Hours before her passing on December 19, 2015, I would repeatedly whisper in her ear that when she really needed me to know that she was near, she would leave a white feather for me to find. In the last 5 years have found feathers in the strangest places and at the exact time I need to find them. I always said they were feathers left from her wings.
After her passing, I sold my restaurant and stopped all riding tours, put the horses we had in early retirement, and put my businesses on hold. Months passed, then remembering I had those promises to keep, I got to work at them, the biggest hurdle was finding a new 4-legged life partner to share my journey with. I found a sweet 8-year-old quarter horse mare named Taco, but unfortunately, only after 1.5 years with her, she had to be put down due to severe arthritis. So, at the brink of giving up again, and while at a weekend trip to Colorado (I live in Sweden) for the 2018 Savvy Summit filled with inspiration, a friend sent me a link to look at a new horse.
Enter Mel Hooligan, then a 3-year-old Appaloosa gelding! What the heck was I going to do with a 3-year-old? But the signs just kept coming, so I bought him. Who now I am sure of, is part Jasmine in spirit, Because they both are little hooligans!
Living Without Her, While Trying To Live
Fast forward to 2020, It’s gone 2 years since Mel came to live with us and my riding (for myself, no tours, no lessons just me and my boy) has made leaps and bounds, Mel has turned my life around in ways that are truly hard to explain. I have a connection with this horse that I have never experienced since I was 6 and had a one-eyed pony named Ginger. I even took up Horseback Archery, AT 50!!? And I love it. All thanks to one little promise.
In my riding tours, I only had Parelli/NHS saddles to my horses and almost all of them were Performers. So, wanting a change and riding more out in the forest by myself I decided it was time for a new saddle. And it was going to be the Australian Hybrid. Love at first sight, yum! And that I got to design it myself was so exciting. Seems like it took forever to decide how it should look, I have to give it to the NHS staff that are so incredibly helpful but mostly for their patience with answering all my wacky questions.
I was almost done with the design but felt something was missing. I felt that it was Jasmine that got me here, and she should be with me always while riding so I wanted her to be remembered in this beautiful design. What better way to honor her than to incorporate her in the design, with a pair of angel wings. Since I know she is the one that carries me, protects me, and made it possible for me to soar with Mel. I love her even more for that.
When I finally was able to saddle up and ride in this new saddle, it was an experience I thoroughly enjoyed. I wanted to notice everything and searched for all the comparative feelings and sensations I could find. The close contact I felt and the feeling that I sat deep down in his back was new. I felt comfortable and I felt safe. While saddling Mel could not stop turning to see and smell it. He knew immediately that it was different as well. Riding he offered canters that he never did before, Not sure from his happiness or mine. I didn’t care, I felt like I was floating, the 3 of us on a cloud.