Lisa Munniksma

freelance writing, editing, farming, travel

Missing Red


Red at home in Indiana

Red on a farm in Indiana

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.


  1. So sorry Lisa I’m sure he loved you just as much. Glad you were with him to say goodbye.

  2. Awwww. Beautiful tribute to your love.

  3. I loved all of Reds noratic ticks! Such as the constant banging on the door in the barn at the fair and the fact that both our horses were afraid of the ribbon when we rode in the ribbon race.

    I will never forget the time I came over & you were riding/fighting each other. I actually told you to get off him & go kick things in the barn while I streched & massaged Red to calm down. When you guys calmed down & came back together after blowing off steam, you had an awesome.

    He was a great horse & you stayed devoted to him, & he to you despite your stubborn power struggles. Very sad it was a sad end for such a great horse I will always remember fondly. 🙂

    • Ha! The ribbon race! That’s hilarious. 🙂 I remember the day you’re talking about when you came out to help me with Red, too. You were a huge support to me, Tara! And, wow, did we all have so much fun (and drama) in 4-H!

  4. I was lucky enough to watch the two of you meet, spar, bond and become best friends. During those years I laughed, cried and saw an unbelievable relationship form. I saw each of you win some battles and lose some, but in the end it was a tie. I will always remember the great love story I saw and treasure it always. Love you, Dad XO

  5. Ahhh… a horse with a taste for chicken mcnuggets! Such a wonderful remembering, Lisa! Thank you for sharing. Your word inspired in me memories of other horses I’ve known….the one who loved powdered sugar donuts or the one who could never be tied to a fence post because he’d simply throw all his weight and bulk backwards until the rope or the post broke! I remember countless hours of my own youth learning from horses the ways of the world…of a horse vastly more patient than my youthful impatient self! Reading your words I can smell the rich scent of hay, the tang of horse urine mixed with manure and the delightful nature of beasts who outweighed me in wisdom as well as mass. Hugs to you in your remembering!

    • Thanks for the nice comments, Deb! Your message reminds me of the road trip you, me, Red, Rooster and Annie took from Nebraska to Indiana five years ago. What troopers we all were on that 14-hour stretch with the truck and trailer with malfunctioning turn signals. 🙂

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