I'm not real sure where to start this story as it has many turns and twists. I learned my love of horses from my aunt. She was about 18 years older than I am and was diagnosed with cancer the same year I was born. She lived with my grandparents her entire life. She was a successful barrel racer and the best aunt any little girl could ask for. She made farm life fun and had a zest for life despite the looming prognosis.
Denise, my aunt, died March 5th 1984. I was 9. In those 9 years I learned how to ride, love, laugh, and care for horses, I attended more rodeos than most little girls should. I was privileged to get to be behind the scenes and had the opportunity to ride many a horse I probably had no business on.
My aunt owned 3 horses, 1 her barrel horse, 2 her mare, and 3 was her gelding Kip. Whom I learned to ride on. Her mare foaled a beautiful palomino colt the week she died. He was named cocoa...Grandpa wasn't the best with names. Kip died about 2 years later and Dolly followed Kip the following year... It was tragic and heartbreaking as both of those horses passed before their time. I have a feeling that it was of broken hearts, both horses just "gave up". At least that is my opinion.
I was told today that Cocoa died. He was nearly 25 years old. He was more than just a horse. He probably had been ridden less than 50 times his whole life. He was the link between a family's loss and the hope that new life brings. Although Cocoa did not get to know the pleasures of hacking out 3-4 times a week or the grandeur of blue ribbons or success. He has had more tears shed on him than any horse should have had to bear.
I have caught just about everyone of my relatives returning from the pasture red-eyed after a good long hard cry. I was no stranger to burying my hands in his mane and just crying until I could cry no longer.
He represented the very gift of life going on. He was loved my all of my family. He was the pasture pet extraordinaire and I can't imagine the farm without him whinnying at the gate. As he was always there to greet every visitor to the farm.
Rest in peace old friend and thank you for your years of loyal service and helping my family through some of the roughest times.