This story began 32 years ago. My mom heard a knock at the door and went to find someone holding an 18 month old Morgan horse with a big bow around his neck. He had been given as a gift from friends and others in the patrol department where my dad had worked. A few months earlier, my dad who was a highway patrolman was killed while assisting at a traffic accident. His name was Billy - something we all found somewhat ironic since my own dad's name had been William (Bill).
So, my love story with Billy began when he was half my age: I was three and he was 1 1/2. I think neither Krista nor I remember life before Billy. These many years that have filled in the timeline of our lives since the day he arrived have been filled with so many memories. He has been a part of every season, every event, every change, a part of who we grew up to be.
Some of the memories I am quickest to recall:
He loved the horse trailer. Most horses are hard to load, but being food motivated as he was, he saw it as a place of sustenance and happiness. One time, when Krista and I were little, we were both riding on him bareback while he was being led and I guess Mom and Dad forgot we were up there, because they loaded us right into the trailer with him!
He ALWAYS nickered when he sensed that a meal was in order. Sometimes - well, often - the nicker would be accompanied by an enthusiastic rear and elegant display with his front hooves, followed by a buck and fart. So funny. So Billy.
We used to ride for hours and hours every week in the woods behind our house. We lived in a very isolated town (Nutrioso, Arizona) with few people, so our horses were our source of sanity, in a way. Riding Billy was always exciting, in one way or another. He never let the ride be dull... it was always some stunt or another that he was pulling. His personal favorite: when we were cantering on a long stretch he would suddenly and randomly pull a 90 degree turn straight through the trees, up a hill, over a log, or through a creek. We both learned to ride with a death grip "just in case". :-) He is definitely responsible for making us better riders.
When I decided to pull my own "Man from Snowy River" stunt and ride down the face of a mountain, Billy was game. He was game for anything. He just slid down that ridiculous incline without hesitation. And amazingly we both survived. I was so proud... and stupid. What a horse!
There are so many memories... they simply never end. That is a brief summary of my love story with this horse. Every member of my family has his/her own love story with him and they are all unique and special.
Today, his story ends, but his legacy, I feel, will go on in our hearts as long as we live. He will be desperately missed, and I think these memories that we have in bounty will be very comforting to us in the coming days as we grow accustomed to his absence and our loss.