Today marks the 3rd anniversary of my first horse's passing.
I've had a few "first" horses. Those who taught me what it takes to own a horse, to ride, and the sacrifices I have to make.
None, however, have ever stolen my heart like Harly did. It was the fall of 2001 when I first met her. At the time she belonged to a friend of my grandmother's. Said friend had purchased Harly for his granddaughter but never showed much interest.
So one day, my grandma and mom decide to round all the kiddos up and go see her.
As you can imagine, I'm a horse-crazed seven year old who cannot get enough of horses. So I'm sure you can understand how excited I was to see her.
We arrives at the friends house and head down to see her in her small pasture. I loves her the very moment that I saw her. Something struck a chord, like fingers strumming a guitar. We were meant to meet each other.
After a little bit of coaxing, I had convinced my mom to let me ride her. So all 60 pounds of me sprawled on her back. Bareback, helmetless, and having never ridden a horse before, I felt like I was on top of the world. I had a grin that stretched from ear to ear. Harly was extremely careful with me. Watching every step as I steered her through the hilly pasture. Being as I hadn't ridden a horse before, I wasn't very balanced and well...I slid right off the side of her, face down and covered in dirt. Harly didn't move a muscle and I sprung right back up and asked if I could get back on. I was having a blast, and Harly was enjoying it too. Her ears would prick forward every so often but she was quiet attentive to me. She was there to take care of me, and I of her.
A few years past and Harly's owner had decided to move her to my grandma's so she could have a larger pasture. I was elated. We would go out to my grandma's house and I would spend hours with her. I'd try to find anything tall enough to climb on and go for a ride.
This went on for about 6 years. At this point, Harly is in her late twenties. Her back was swayed and her lower lip sagged, but I still thought she was beautiful. I saw no flaw. Only perfection. So what if she wasn't the fastest or strongest. She was my girl, anything anyone else said didn't matter to me.
Come the summer of 2008, Harly's health had declined. She was still full of spunk but had a harder time getting around than she used to. It was at this point that I stopped riding her. She deserved her rest, after teaching me so much. I spent the rest of that year pampering her with any treat, toy, scratch, or good ol' fashioned lovin' I could think of. I think that was our best time together. She taught me that simple is better. I didn't have to ride to enjoy her. All I had to do was be there. To scratch the crest of her neck or put fly spray on her back.
After the end of that year, things really got worse. She was dropping weight fast and she was becoming weaker. Yet she was still herself. What she now lacked in strength, she made up in being ornery. If she wasn't fed on time, I'd better expect a feed dish flung halfway across the pasture and a pissy face waiting for supper. She was a character all right. I don't think I'll ever meet another like her.
It was late April when the time had finally come. I prepared myself for what was going to happen.
It may sound cruel, but I wanted her to go when she was ready. She always made it known that she was going to do what she wanted. Not what someone else said to do. So I told myself she had til the end of May. I think she knew what was going to happen. Darn old mare beat me to the punch line.
On a sunny day in May, the 8th to be exact, she took her final step. She layer down, closed her eyes, let out one last sigh, and went to sleep. I just sat there with her. Her head in my lap, softly caressing her long forelock. I sat there for what seems like a lifetime. Not wanting to leave her, afraid of what it would be like without her.
So on May 8th, 2009, I layer to rest my best friend. She was in her thirties, and I was 14. Even though she was never officially mine, she held my heart. She still holds it to this day. I've loved many and lost more. None will ever compare to her. I will always love and remember her. I pray she watches over me as I grow and live out my life. I hope that one day, my son or daughter can find that same cranky old lady who wouldn't dare ruffle a hair on their head.
Rest in Peace, my sweet girl. I'll always, always love you.
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