The Gentleman aka “Plato” leaves the ring after a winning round.

There was an acute stress in the air that danger was present in the barn that night. Her fellow riders sent nervous, empathetic glances her way but avoided getting too close. She kept her fears silent. She realized she did have it in her to rise above what was unfolding.

Plato came into her life through a side door. Powers came to know him as just a horse. He was boarding at Madeira, her high school. Meg, then his owner, was keeping him there and very kindly started to let her ride him.

It actually took her some time before she realized what a special creature this massive horse was. She had no idea then how important and significant he would become to her. Now looking back, everything they had done with horses up to that point had been so exact and precise. This just happened.

Their time together was so magical, and so perfect, filled with so many firsts. It was a time when neither horse nor rider experienced setbacks or challenges, the road they were on had them galloping very fast, to the stars. Galloping on that horse was the only place she ever wanted to be.

That fateful evening closed with both of them bloodied and exhausted. Plato traveled to the equine hospital for surgery.

The two weeks that followed during his hospital stay were filled with some promising moments, and some brutal disappointments. All hospitals seem to have a smell, and equine hospitals are no exception. It is an odd smell with a mix of chemicals both sweet and bitter, a constant reminder that life is “on hold” in that place.

And then, almost unceremoniously it became clear. There she stood outside his stall looking in at him, hooked up to an IV, stomach wrapped in tight bandages, and knowing that they were going to end his life. It did not matter that they were absolutely doing the right things. The vet took his horseshoes off first. That struck her the hardest, it’s as if they were declaring him no longer useful. An hour later, he was ashes.

The winter that followed was impossibly long, cold and relentless. Sometimes when she thinks about explaining her career with horses, Powers thinks about detailing the impact of all the hard work and dedication it took for her to achieve great things in her sport.

Instead, what you really need to know about her is that she connects: with people, animals, problems, environments, successes and challenges. She connects, she commits, and she actively engages in everything she does.

During that difficult time, she realized that it’s this passion, not just for horses and her sport, which was going to make her the person she wanted to be. Now, she understands how circumstances in life weave and cross to create moments that define what living really is. They are so powerful that the impact is permanent. Yet the perfection of time and place is fleeting. That may be the biggest lesson of all.

When springtime finally made its way into May that year, a lovely grey mare came trotting into her life. Plato would approve.