We have been together for 16 years today. On March 25, 1996, I had no idea what my future with you would bring. I only knew that, suddenly!, you were mine--you, a spirited little firecracker of a Thoroughbred mare, a little bay thing with a huge white blaze. You were quite unlike anything I had ever sat on before--other Thoroughbreds included! At the time, I couldn't pinpoint why--I did not yet comprehend that comfortable yet giddy feeling.
But I can today. In sitting on your back for the first time, and each of the thousands of times since, I have been at home.
March 25, 1996
Riding aside, we had so many ups and downs over the years, as can happen when a young mare and a young girl grow up together. Only in the past six or years or so have we truly settled down and fallen into a familiar routine with one another. While we have had 16 years together, I feel like our time has only begun. Each day with you is a gift and a promise. Each moment is savored, and each goodbye for the evening is harder than the last.
You have taken me on quite a journey! Always interested in history, particularly Thoroughbred history, I have dug deep into your heritage and your past. I spent endless hours researching your family online. I wrote your breeder letters. I wrote people who knew your trainer, people who knew your breeder, people who knew (and loved) horses related to you (and apparently you are not the only Hot Oil filly to be hot-headed!). I found a photograph of your handsome sire, Hot Oil. I found photographs (and so much more!) of his famous sire, Damascus. I found so many photographs, and have folders full of color and black and white images of your ancestors--their blazed faces, strong shoulders, well-conformed, compact physiques reminding me of yours. And yes, two or three are also over at the knee!
I have found photographs of your lone full sister's sons and daughters--your nephews and nieces. All have blazes, and one--Cuchulainn's Honor--is the spitting image of you. I have taken an interest in other sons of Damascus, namely Ogygian. I call him your uncle and he is my favorite horse at Old Friends. He, too, has your compact, powerful body.
I have collected emails, notes, memos, and endless links to possible information. And my journey is far from done.
Also, thanks to you, I have renewed a dream I once had--a desire to live on my own little horse farm somewhere in the rolling hills of Kentucky. And prominent in that dream is you--your little bay, blazed self grazing in my backyard alongside an equine friend or two.
16 years ago today, as we looked one another in the eyes, who knew how far we would go together? Who knew just how important and central to my life you would become?
A couple months ago, I found a quarter while riding you--it was the only coin I had ever found while riding. When I dismounted, I picked it up and put it in my pocket. The next evening, when I put the same pair of jeans on, I found the quarter again. To my amazement, the year was 1991--your foaling year. What are the odds? In a flash, that coin went from being worth 25 cents to priceless. I cleaned it, mounted it in a sterling silver coin holder and added emeralds--the birthstone of May, your foaling month--to the pendant.
It is a tribute to you, as is this entire blog. It is the nature of the artist within me to try to capture through words, photographs and more just how alive you make my spirit. You have gone from a girl's first horse, to a valued training partner, to a hard lesson in equine hoof health, to an equally difficult lesson in managing a hard-keeping and particular mare, to a priceless friend, equine sister, therapist, and muse.
Love, your ever-grateful "person",