As I read through Kayty's thread once again...through tears, I couldn't help but think about horses I've had, and the horse that was the hardest to lose by far. The horse that has my forum name Pride. He was a horse that I bought as a project horse, and he was one of those that was love at first sight. He was a Quarter Horse Arab cross, 5 yrs old at the time, and you couldn't even catch him without doing a bunch of ground work first to help him realize you weren't just going to corner him and force a halter on him. He was terrified of everything that moved, so I decided that as soon as I got him to a boarding place, that I was not going to rush him, I would take my time, and if I rode him by the end of the year, that was fine with me...I just wanted a solid, secure horse.
We moved him to one place first, and that didn't wind up working out, because the owners kept trying to work with him (when I told them to leave him alone), ending up in him jumping the round pen panels, scraping up his chest, and their horses running him through another fence. I hauled him to another place THE next day. He was the only horse there for several months, so it worked fantastic. I didn't have a round pen there, but I could still get him into a smaller pen and work him there. He progressed really quickly through most of his basic ground work, although 'object' stuff still bothered him, so I had to constantly work on bags, tarps, even leg wraps, polos, chin straps, blankets, and all that kind of basic stuff scared the daylights out of him, so we worked on that everyday, sometimes two or three times a day, until he stopped worrying about it.
By Thanksgiving of that year (2006) I decided it was time to get on and ride...my mom was up to spend the holiday with us, so I had her in the pen with me. I had already been on him several times just getting him used to me being on him rubbing him all over (in the days before), so I just hopped up like previously, bareback, and with her at his head asked him to move foward. He walked on like he'd done it his entire life. Riding from that day on was a cakewalk with that horse; he transitioned from bareback to saddle like it was nothing, although we rode bareback most of the time. I rode him all over the town we lived in, and he wound up having to live with my parents for a time, and became a trail horse for some friends who hadn't ridden in years. I couldn't have been happier when I heard that he had packed them around without being a brat, even though he had literally only about 9 months of riding time at that point.
In the year of 2008 we just continued to grow in our partnership, and he was one of the best trail horses I have ever ridden...it didn't matter how long he had been 'off' the trails either; we could hit any trail anywhere, and he was perfect...which was a good thing, since I was often bareback, or riding with a bareback pad...haha. It's just the way we rolled. When I had gotten him, I had wanted to do pleasure with him...but he just didn't have it in him; But he totally made up for it for how amazing he was on the trails, and on roads. I had hoped to have him for sooooo many years, but in May of 2009 that came to an end, when he was playing with his buddies in the pasture and got caught up in one of the hay feeders and injured himself too badly, that he had to be put down.
I now have a mare who is every bit as amazing in different ways as Pride, and I can't imagine what I would do if anything happened to her, especially with some of the stuff that I am going through in my own life right now...I guess in alot of ways, each horse can be a once in a lifetime.