He came as quite a surprise to my parents, my mother purchasing the chestnut mare with high hopes of her being the perfect fit for my older sister, which she was. My own mother’s belly was growing with me inside and it became clear—so was this mare’s.
Never having had a baby horse, my parent’s I’m sure were excited, who doesn’t think baby horses are cute? But, they had to be a bit nervous and scared. What were they to do with a foal? What was to become of this horse?
He came like fawns do, mostly legs but without the spots and he would stay as one of our own. Somehow he’d fit in. Somehow he’d work into the growing family. Little did we all know at the time, he’d end up doing just that.
While he kicked up his young heals, I grew. While he frolicked around the corral, I watched. My mother would be the first on his back having read and re-read how to do this training thing. For never having done it—they did just fine. He wouldn’t grow huge, just a small horse, but his personality and willingness to submit to those over him would become his charm.
The adventures I had on the horse we called Maverick have helped mold me into the person I am today.
Now, I realize, he’s just a horse.
However, he was my horse. My first horse. And he followed me through my life, teaching me all along the way. He was the first one to buck me off, the first to teach me that flying doesn’t have to happen way up high. He grew with me and I with him and we somehow fit, my long legs draped against his short ones.
We’d rip around our field, the 3 barrels the most fun to capture. I learned to stand on his back while he ran—a feat not many young girls could do.
That horse taught me more about responsibility and love, patience and loyalty than most people or sermons, or lectures ever have. Many of my life lessons came from that horse and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to ride such rides with such a horse.
Of course, horses get older, just as people do, and while horses live longer than dogs, cats and fish, they still don’t live forever. Many weeks ago, on a sunny wintery day, our beloved Maverick had to be put down.
He was full of arthritis, too much for me to ride anymore. His mind wasn’t as sharp and he moved with a crick or two.
But, he was still loved. Loved even until the end.
Most people don’t keep a horse for 30 years. They outgrow them. Get sick of paying for them. Whatever the reason, it’s rare to keep a horse so long.
Our entire family felt his loss. It wouldn’t be just me who would shed tears at his departure. My mother may have started him, but he worked through many of my families hands, my pair just one set. My young niece was the most recent pupil of his and she loved that horse as I had.
We say farewell to a friend, a teacher, a loyal companion and we treasure the lessons learned, the memories made and the lives touched by one simple little horse.
Goodbye my friend.