Several months ago, I made a hard decision to donate all four of my horses to an equine therapy group. For the first time in 28 years, I didn’t own a horse. A week later, three of them returned. Saturday, my beloved Gambler returned. The drought that has plagued us here in Texas ended the therapy program.
In a strange way, I’m happy. If you’ve never owned a pet you might not understand the connection. I delivered Gambler–reached shoulder deep into his mama and pulled him out. I cleaned him, doctored him, helped him find his mother’s teet. For sixteen years, he’s been with me, except for the last few months and the year he raced. We share a history that has crossed two states and other things.
The man who returned him, an old horse trainer, said Gambler began nickering when he crossed the first bridge where our property starts. When Gambler saw me, he whickered–a loud-body shaking-from the hooves up-whinny then surged toward me. He stuck his nose in my chest, then chuffed on me. I didn’t care I had horse snot all over my shirt. I wanted to cry with joy.
However, not everyone was delighted to see him as I was. Sue was a total bitch–as a spurned woman would be. She turned her butt then kicked at him. 🙂 The man said that Gambler had been the horse he could pen with any other horse. I’d never thought Gambler as laid-back.
I watched enthralled as Gambler ran the pasture with his head high, neck arched worthy of any stallion, mane flowing and his tail flagged. Clots of earth flew from his hooves. His snorts came to me on the wind. I didn’t want to speak, or share the moment, or be distracted with company. Yet, I had to.
The man related what a wonderful horse I had. Gambler had been a favorite. The children in wheelchairs were rolled up to him where he stood statue still while the kids curry combed him. His head hung relaxed, his body loose, as he enjoyed the attention. Or when teaching children and autistic adults how to feed treats to a horse, he would gently use only his lips to lift.
Gambler had settled to graze on the verdant winter rye. Our pasture is now complete. My horse has come home, back where he belongs.