If I've learned one thing this year it's that our horses are never with us for long enough. So this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for every single moment I've gotten to spend with the special senior horses in my life.

As you might remember, my family and I said good bye to our 27-year-old Appaloosa gelding earlier this year. He'd been with us for 15 wonderful years, and none of us could imagine life without him. I cried for a week before and weeks after Taz died, but with time, our wounds began to slowly heal.

I'll always cherish these photos as they were some of the last ones I had the chance to take of Taz and Brandy.

Photos: Erica Larson

But in a sad twist of fate, our wounds were torn open again when Brandy, our 24-year-old Miniature Horse, died very suddenly and unexpectedly in October. Losing one member of your family in a year is bad enough and losing two beloved senior horses proved almost unbearable, but I took comfort in the fact that they were back together again, having lived with each other for more than a decade on earth.

Through the pain, though, my husband prompted me to remember the good times I had with Brandy, just as he'd when  we lost Taz earlier in the year. And now looking back, I'm thankful for every second—good and bad—that I spent with both of them, because every moment shaped the incredible bond we formed.

I'm thankful for falling off Taz during my first test ride on him at his old owners' farm when he spooked at a bike skidding on gravel, and I'm thankful for the first championship ribbon we won together at a farm I took lessons at as a child.

I'm thankful that we rescued Brandy from living in a shed and eating goat food, and I'm thankful that she flipped a driving cart on me in front of an entire horse camp.

I'm thankful Taz "protected" me from boys he didn't deem worthy of talking with me in high school, and I'm thankful he went to sleep quietly and with dignity.

I'm thankful Brandy's veterinarians helped us control her laminitis and Cushing's disease so she could enjoy her retirement healthily and happily, and I'm thankful for all the times I just sat with her as she grazed outside her dry lot.

On the day Brandy died I went to the barn and hugged 17-year-old Dorado, who I swear hugged me back. I was reminded to cherish every moment with my crazy, goofy Thoroughbred, and I've been extra thankful for him ever since.

So this Thanksgiving, give your horse a hug and cherish every single moment you have with them. Do it for Brandy and for Taz, and so you can someday look back and say, "My horse couldn't have been loved more and I couldn't have appreciated my time with him any better."

Happy Thanksgiving.