Anyone who has ever loved a horse will be touched by this tribute. Congratulations to the 2019 Golden Oats Essay winner, Heather Stalker.
You were not my first, but you were the first that I bred myself. I remember the wonder and the terror as I waited for you to be born. I remember pulling you from your mother when she was too tired to continue. You were the cutest foal – so solid and so interested in everything around you. You were the first to come when I called to you and your brother and the last to leave. You would lay down beside me in the field just to keep me company. I didn’t teach you to lunge – you watched others from the fence line and knew how to do it when I first put the line on and asked you to work around me. You acted like you had been ridden all of your whole life when I first swung a foot over your back. You were not perfect – you could be sassy and opinionated. I still know the underside of your neck and can feel it on my palm from all of the times you walked around on your hind legs. You taught me to teach you with patience and determination. You taught me how quickly flying changes can be learned and how difficult they are to unlearn. You won me championships and you taught me humility, but you were always there with me, and you could always make me laugh.
You had bone chips in your fetlock for years before a vet finally found them, worn smooth as pebbles. I sat glued to the observation window for hours while you were in surgery and was blessed just to be able to bring you home, but you were not done…you were only getting started. You won me my first national reserve championship. When you foundered, I prayed every day for your strength and determination to fight it, and you did. When I again got to sit on you, it was like a present from above. When I was able to take you to a show, it was like all was right in the world to have you with me. When we decided to try western dressage to make life easier, you took to it like a duck to water. You won 3 regional championships, and I needed to be excused from the fourth class because of your antics. I was as happy with the antics as I was with the wins. They were a part of you, and I loved that you could still express yourself. When the founder came again, again I prayed, but it was not enough. I was glad that I could set you free before the pain was too bad. You will live in my heart forever, you were my world. Twenty-three years was not nearly enough. I will be thinking about you until we meet again my friend.
Tswannee Tsultan 4-7-1997 to 11-21-2019