The Arena Bound Amateur: Horses Are Forever In Our Hearts

In the last month, I’ve said goodbye to two horses. I sold one and buried the other. Neither was easy.

Photo: Lean On Fritz aka Freddy

When I was seven-years-old, my parents bought a two-year-old stud colt and put him in a reining training barn. The colt grew into a successful performance stallion earning an AQHA Superior, an NRHA title and produced offspring just like him in looks and athletic ability.
I don’t have many horse memories before “Freddy” aka Lean On Fritz, and in the past couple of weeks, I’ve been confronted with the harsh reality that horses, although I wish it differently, don’t live forever.
I found out about his passing while on a work trip in Ohio, ironically in an arena full of horses preparing to show. I broke down in tears at the edge of the show pen, but after a few minutes, composed myself enough and got on with my job. I felt comfort in knowing I could walk up to anyone in that building, tell him or her why my heart was hurting and they would understand. In fact, each individual probably had a story and a heartache similar to what I was (and am currently still) experiencing.
Freddy was 21, and full of life. He was the horse through the years, that although young and still learning my correct leads, introduced me to a high standard of how a horse should be ridden and how “it”, looked like. He was the horse I brushed, fed, and took random “selfies” with later in his life. And when I was struggling with feeling what was happening underneath my saddle with other horses, I would saddle him up and he would show me the right way I should ride. More often than not, his teaching methods included a pump up if I spurred too hard, or a look that said, “I’m not going to move forward until you put your hand down and ask me softly.” Regardless, when I rode the right way, he would answer with incredible maneuvers, so correct, so willing, so…Freddy.
Without a doubt, Freddy was the patriarch of my parents’ business, and a dream come true for my family. For nineteen years, he was “the man”, and really in our hearts, he continues to be. He was my Dad’s partner in the breeding pen, my mom’s real-life dream come true and vision for the future of our farm, and for the horse industry in our area.
I really don’t know if losing him will ever get easier, but then having the pleasure of knowing him will always be present.

Photo: Crusin By Moonlight aka Comrade
About a month ago, I sold a horse, an all-around gelding, and even though I know he’s at a dream come true home, alive, healthy and loved, I miss him too.
“Comrade,” aka Cruisin By Moonlight was a horse my family referred to as a “reboot”. He debuted his career as yearling longe line baby and became an all-arounder. Somehow or another, even after having a career in the show pen, he fell through the cracks and ended up in one of our neighbor’s roping horse pastures. We purchased him and spent the next few years “rebooting” him until it was time to let him go to a new home. He was the horse I told Cody he could ride on our 3rd date (to see if he was really a horse guy since he said he was). I rode Comrade at various shows, events, and he was that horse you could pull out of the pasture and be the same as he was the last time you rode him months ago. Even though I always knew reselling him was the ultimate goal, I still teared up as I watched the trailer go down the road.

Earlier this week with the loss of these horses swimming in my mind, I watched my husband ride Jake (Freddy’s 17-year-old offspring- the oldest offspring he had). I couldn’t help but wonder, “How do other people spend their evenings?” An odd question, I know. And then I wondered, “At its core, how do I spend mine?” The only answer that came to my mind, “I spend my time with my family”.
These horses, technically defined as livestock, have so much life and love to give us, their owners, and their providers. They LITERALLY devote their lives to our wishes, demands, and requests. If we say, “be ridden”, they become willing, if we want to produce offspring, they reproduce, if we asked them to fly, I’m sure there are a few horses out there who would spread their wings.
Is living this life, owning these horses, knowing that you will feel inevitable pain worth the commitment? With no hesitation, I answer, “absolutely”.
Part of owning horses is losing horses. Sometimes we let them go so they may continue their journey making people happy, just like my family did with Comrade. Sometimes, horses fall asleep and are eternally laid to rest under a group of shade trees, just like where we have visited Freddy.
I just thank the Lord that He believed in me enough to gift me with these amazing animals. Horses are truly the closest thing to Heaven on earth.
May we all someday be able to meet all of our good horses at the back gate. Until then, good horses. Until then.

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