Four years ago, just a week after my 10th birthday, my parents came home with small a grey pony.
She was about 11 hands high (I never really measured her) and she had a flowing, shaggy mane that would never be tamed.
My dad worked with the people we got her from, so after they had had her for a few years and couldn't take care of her anymore, my dad offered to take her rather than them sending her to auction where she likely would have been slaughtered.
Her hooves were overgrown, and she was moderately underweight; you could see the outlines of her largest ribs and her withers and spine stuck out. She hadn't been dewormed in more that a year. We certainly had our work cut out for us.
I decided to name her "Belle": the french word for "Beautiful"
It was almost four months before she could walk more than a quarter of a mile before it hurt to much.
Over the years, her hooves had a hard time recovering; she gained weight easily enough but she never would really look healthy. We struggled with getting her into a really healthy state, and sometimes her hooves would be feeling better for a few days to a week and she could be ridden by a light rider.
I think she might have been part Shetland because of her shaggy main and tail, but she was rather lanky for a full Shetland.
After just the first year or so, she started having a very hard time putting on weight. She got skinny and it wasn't until the following spring when she had access to 24/7 grazing that she got back to a moderately healthy weight.
The picture below is her during that spring; that was as filled out as we could ever get her. I decided to take advantage of her ever-growing mane and do something stylish
Henche the layering, lol. That is my sister holding her by the way (we look nothing alike FYI
The winter I was 13, three years after I got her (the winter of 2011/2012) she started doing really bad. She would fall down and not get back up.
This persisted for nearly three months.
She never seemed to be in any pain, but simply sad, like she knew it was almost time.
It was a Friday and my parents came to pick me up after school. I could see in their faces something was wrong.
I knew Belle had been having an especially hard time that week. After we started drving my mom slowly broke the news to me that Belle had passed away that morning.
They had had the vet come out and check on her just before it happened. The vet said that their wasn't anything they could have done, that it was simply old age.
The people we got her from had been told that she was 5 when they got her, so she would have been 8 or 9 at this time. But the vet, after taking a look at her teeth, said that there was no way she was any younger than 30. It was simply her time.
That pony escorted me directly into the heart of the horse world.
I had always loved horses, and even though I couldn't ride her, she was my dream come true. She taught me how to love every horse, healthy and unhealthy, nice and mean, big and small. No matter where I go in life, that lesson will always be with me.