Taking advantage of a numb moment to try and write some things down before it hurts too much to think about him again. It might help, it might not, but it can't hurt more.
Heart horse just doesn't seem like enough to describe Rex. It doesn't embody the joy he gave me and it certainly doesn't embody the agony I'm feeling now that he's gone. Even when that beautiful old boy was jig jogging, snorting and carrying on he was perfect.
The very first day I met him, he was in the last stall at the end of the aisle. I walked down, chatting with his then owner about him and just before we reached the door he stuck his head out. I had gone to see him partly for me, but also partly to be a lesson horse for a riding school I was working for. As soon as I saw his beautiful face I knew we were buying him. He was brought out of the stall and I looked him over for any faults. Maybe there were some there, but I didn't see any. He was put in the roundyard and lunged so I could see how he moved. He kicked up his heels and threw his head when he was asked to canter. That only made me like him more.
When he came home, it was as a school horse, but he was "my" horse. My first rides on him were bareback in a halter and lead. He was wonderful. Eventually we went out on the trails. He was jiggy and always did a mini bolt whenever we had to go under a low hanging branch. He was still perfect. He always knew when he had a beginner on his back and he took care of them. Sometimes he was unbelievably lazy and at other times he was full of attitude.
On the morning of my 21st birthday I was taken out to the property. It had rained the night before and Rexy was filthy. So filthy that it wasn't until I got close to him that I noticed the ribbon tied around his neck. He was my birthday present. Although he had been "mine" all along, he was now actually MINE.
In the 3 years since then we haven't logged a lot of saddle time. First it was greasy heel, then he collapsed, then he went lame and was diagnosed with bad arthritis and was semi-retired. I was contemplating getting on him and going for a bit of a plod when he put himself through the fence last month, so once again I postponed it.
While he wasn't ridden a whole lot in the time I had him, I spent countless hours with him. Whether it be just chilling in his paddock, grooming him, doctoring injuries, crying in to his neck or most recently, painting him like a zebra just for a laugh, Rexy was always my go to boy. When I just needed some down time, he was always happy to hang out and occasionally nuzzle me for treats.
Today I worked up the guts to go outside for the first time since the accident. On the way out there were so many reminders of him. The new bandages I had bought for his wound, sitting unused on the table, the tub of bute paste in the fridge, his specially fitted, but never used on him saddle sitting in the corner, his spare halter hanging in the shed. The hardest thing to see was the broken gate and fence and his uneaten dinner laying just inside it.
I went to where he is buried and I stood and I sobbed and I apologised. I apologised for the times I swore at him, for the times I confused him, for the times I forgot to truly appreciate how amazing of a horse he was and how fortunate I was to have him as a part of my life. He made me better in so many ways. I hope that in time I will be able to go to that spot and thank him for that.
I'm not ready to get back involved with the other horses. I'm not sure how long it will take before I am. I only hope that when the time comes Rex will help me to be better for them too.
I can feel the lump in my throat returning now, so I'll stop. Treasure every single moment with your horses and if you are lucky enough to have that one horse who is perfect even at their worst, appreciate how truly amazing that is. I don't think everybody gets to experience that.