It’s been four years since life as I knew it became something else entirely. Those who were lucky enough to have known my horse Red knew he was sassy, pushy and full of heart. And they knew he was my love.
The horse that never got sick did get sick—he coliced—on July 12, 2009, and on July 13, a vet put him down on a beautiful farm in Kentucky. I had many friends kindly offer to be there with me, but it was exactly like it needed to be: me and him, and my generous and caring boarding-farm owner, Frances.
I’d like to say that 16 years wasn’t long enough to have with Red, but he did everything I needed him to do for me, often in the wisest of ways. It’s because of this horse that I found the worlds of horses and agriculture, which led to the many amazing horse people I have in my life and to this freelance writing career that I’m so blessed with. It’s because of his leaving, too, that I found the road calling me to explore distant farms and places over the past two-plus years, each adventure bringing with it more people who I value so much and more experience from which to write.
So, Redley, today I’m remembering your sense of humor, your arrogant head tosses, your suspicious nature, your tolerance for being dressed up in costume, your fear of the human ego, your ability to sleep anywhere, your many fast miles, your intense love of chicken nuggets and children, your unabashed distaste for incongruence and your own inability to be incongruent, your insane displays of impatience, and the way you both took care of and screwed with riders who thought they knew how to ride. Some of your quirks were my own, which is exactly why we clashed for so long before I opened myself up to figuring you out.
I have so many ridiculous, funny and near-death stories that involve this horse, it would be difficult to begin to pick out the best to write about here (but I’d love to hear your memories of him!). The only two regrets I have from all the many mistakes I made over those years are never having had good photos taken and not getting to introduce everyone I know to Red. If I could start again as a teenager with a crazy Standardbred off the track that had never been ridden, knowing what I know about horses and about myself now, I’d do it, and we’d take over the world, working one cow at a time.