Jim

After years and years of being in love with horses and wishing for my very own, Jim came into my life. He was loved by everyone here, and will always be in our hearts. This is my tribute to a very special horse.

The trailer pulled up, and I watched as he walked out. He was not what I would call a “dream horse.” He was short, extremely furry, and quite pot bellied. He didn’t seem to have a care in the world, the one exception of course being the fresh pile of hay beyond the fence. It was cold out; I had spent days getting the barn ready, and had felt the depth of the chill. Steam rose from his tubby body.

As I watched him shuffle over to the hay bale, something inside me began to die. It wasn’t something that I needed, just something that I had been harboring for a long time. Visions of noble, dished faces, sleek black coats, fine long legs and perfectly balanced barrels vied for a place with what I was now seeing. The visions didn't know it yet, but they were losing.

As the weeks turned to months, and winter gave way to spring, something precious was building in my heart. It was an absolute love for my horse. When I was told that he was short and fat, I shook my head. “No,” I said, “He is beautiful, wait and see.” I couldn’t explain what it was that I saw. I just knew the hours I spent with him were far from wasted. Every time I climbed on his back, the world faded out, and it was just us.

Spring bloomed into glorious summer. The extra pounds dropped away, and the proper care and exercise began to reveal a trim body, muscled legs, and a coat that shined like a bright copper penny. There was always a wisdom in his eyes, the kind of wisdom that only age, pain and wasted years can bring.

He loved my daughters. If anything ever brought a spark into that old boy, it was a child. My oldest daughter shared her mamma’s love for this miracle on four legs. He never failed to do what was asked of him, and that included shining the light of love into the soul of every child that he met.

Years passed by. When ever something went wrong, or those who came later became frightened or upset, he was always there to help. He was my rock, my unshakeable foundation, the love of my life.

And above all, he was beautiful.

When he passed away on September 18th, 2007, something else within me died. This was something that I needed, and it will never be replaced. The love is still there, but it is no longer reciprocated. There are no more joyful whinnies from that much loved throat. There are no more kisses from his soft muzzle. I can no longer tangle my fingers in his mane and feel the wind on my face. I no longer see him gallop towards me across the field, so long as my eyes are open. There is a hole in my heart that no time will ever heal.

I didn’t lose a pet. I didn’t lose a piece of property. I lost my best friend.

I feel that loss with every breath that I take. The grieving process will never end. And to those that still say that he was old, fat, pot bellied and imperfect, I am telling you that he was the most beautiful horse that ever lived.

My sustaining hope is that I will meet him again someday. I don’t know if there is an afterlife, but it is certainly my dearest wish that this most deserving of horses is somewhere, running with the wind in his face, through luscious green grass, remembering the one that once ran with him, with nothing but her fingers in his mane and her life held in his very capable grasp.

To Jim, my first horse, thank you for teaching me that impressive breeding and show ribbons don’t make a true bond between horses and people. It is love, only love.

Kristina

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