Sunday, August 28, 2011

Stardust


The very first horse I ever owned, my parents bought her for fifty dollars. After years of reading The Black Stallion series, Black Beauty, My Friend Flicka and others in the same genre, I had built up a pretty insistent theme of wanting a horse of my own. Our family having recently relocated from town to a small farm in the country, one day early in the school year of my fifth grade I came home to find this exquisite gray mare in one of the stalls of the 100 plus year old cypress barn that stood on the acreage adjacent to my parents' farm house in south central Louisiana. Truly the stuff of dreams come true.

(As an aside my parents still live in the same house but one of their farmer neighbors [my old school bus driver] has since reclaimed the wood from our old barn but made a lovely cypress bench from the wood that made up Stardust's stall which he presented to Chris and me as a wedding gift-- and my parents still have the board on which I painted her name above her stall door.)

The following several years a friendship deepened between me and "Girl" that only those who have had the privilege of calling a horse a comrade will ever understand-- and for those no words of explanation are necessary. After several months my dad finally purchased a western saddle for Girl but even after that I preferred to ride her bareback. The saddle was reserved for the weekends when Dad would saddle up Girl and the three of us would ride out together on the turnrows of the acres of surrounding farms.

Late in my junior year of high school Girl developed a gas colic and we had to take her to our local country vet. She stayed over night and back then my family just wasn't in the position to authorize surgery on a twenty-something fifty dollar horse-- though priceless in my eyes-- and she was humanely euthanized to prevent further suffering. I remember praying for her to recover and even "making deals" with God but He saw fit to take her away. As hard as it was then I've since learned that as we become sensible adults with goals of medals and expensive riding habits and many blue ribbons and lessons later it is still just as hard, just as sad, just as miserable to say goodbye. The years have mellowed the frustration and sadness of that moment into fun and beautiful memories but her loss is still keenly felt.

My heart goes out to each one that has lost an animal friend. They will always be remembered and as hard as it is when we lose their physical bodies we will never lose the love that grows between two friends.



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