24 Praises for 24 Years

A letter to my favorite sass filled Crapple, on your 24th birthday... Stories, promises, and nothing but love!

1. Sorry I cut your forelock 10 years ago with scissors and gave you a bowl cut the day before a “big” clinic. I remember the tongue-lashing I got for that! Thankfully, it grew out. You were still handsome.

2. I understand your buddy-sour tendency, now that I’m a better horsewoman. I know I kept you alone sometimes when you lived on my parent’s property and you were scared. I promise buddy, I never meant to isolate you. I simply didn’t know all those years ago how social you were. You’ll never, ever be alone again.

3. I admire your memory. You always remembered the three loops of our neighborhood and would make a good pass around each of them before settling back in the creek-bed when you managed to escape. Remember the time you ran away and a school bus driver had to help me locate you? I remember! Chasing you was the best cardio I ever had! Thank god you outgrew that.

4. Dressage was never your forte, but I understand why now. We were good partners, but you, a bit of a nervous nelly, really needed someone to give you confidence and correct dressage training. Confidence and training I didn’t have as a pre-teen. I hope that all the knowledge I’ve gained in the past decade (especially about my heavy hands and your sensitive mouth) has made you more comfortable and a happier dressage horse. You certainly look adorable strutting your stuff.

5. SO SORRY I EVER TRIED TO CONNECT YOUR DOTS WITH PAINT. THAT WAS JUST A HUGE MISTAKE.

6. Also about that time when I gave you a bath before a show and put a red wool cooler on you that stained you pink… For days? You rocked it, but I’m so sorry.

7. I fell off because I couldn’t see distances, not because you ever did anything wrong.

8. Minus your broncing. That was on you. How in the world can a 13.3h pony buck that high?? I never stood a chance at 6! But you taught me how to take a hard fall with grace, that’s for sure. Eventually, I learned to ride them out, but you’re still the only pony/horse I know could put me into the ground if you so chose, even with 3 good legs. You never failed to keep me humble and, while I was embarrassed and frustrated as a child, I’m beyond thankful for that constant reality check as an adult.

9. Falling asleep with you that milky spring day in the pasture was one of my most cherished memories. In that moment, I knew what trust was. You belly made an awesome pillow.

10. I loved I could always trust you with kids of any age. You walked with the most delicate, slow steps. You took timid kids and grew them into experienced, thoughtful, empathetic, and bold riders. You always knew when they needed a reality check, but you knew just what to do remind them riding is a privilege and you’re never finished learning as a rider.

11. That nine-month abscess was the stuff of my nightmares. At 14, I struggled with the concept of you being permanently lame, but it didn’t stop me from changing your dressing, cleaning the hole, repacking, and re-bandaging it every day for those nine months. You being sound that day before spring break started was one of the most euphoric memories I have. I cried and cried, so happy you were finally feeling better.

12. I know your stifle has always caused you some trouble. I’m sorry I didn’t know about Cosequin or Previcox sooner. I didn’t have the right guidance, but I know better now. You’ll never be in pain again.

13. Remember that time you untied yourself and found my movie theater sized box of Nerd candies? WELL I DO. Thanks for shaking that thing so hard your rainbow foam flew across the barn. Similar to the unopened back of treats. Except those hurt when you shook the bag so hard they pelted me like paintballs.

14. I remember that little feral kitten you found. The way she wound her way between your hooves and you nudged her; cleaned her the way you would clean your feed bucket. She trusted you when she didn’t trust anyone else, just like kids (and myself) did, and you cared for her as if you had been a mom in another life. The world is a better place with you in it.

15. About Joy… I promise I didn’t know she was going to be such a handful, but you never failed to handle her with just the right amount of authority. There’s a reason you always ended up with the babies – you were a perfect role model.

16. About Fbomb… You might not know about him yet, but you will soon. I hope you love him and teach him about being a horse as much as you taught the four babies you handled before him. You’ll get extra treats for every tantrum he throws. Pinky promise.

17. You should be made a saint. Watching you carefully guide children from the therapeutic riding school around the same arenas you threw me off in was heartwarming. You allowed them to be a part of something bigger than themselves with your kindness.

18. Your pony passage is KILLER. I know we may not get to work it again, but that was one of the most fun things to teach you. Your ability to sit behind is fascinating for a pony your size.

19. Speaking of size, you’ve always been the perfect sized pony. Any bigger, you would’ve been a hellion. Any smaller, I wouldn’t have been able to continue riding you past being 10 years old. I know you have a pony card somewhere… I wish National Pony Cup had been around when we were competing!

20. It wasn’t until I began to study genetics that I realized just how special your lovely coat is. A liver chestnut leopard appaloosa with leg flashing, a full blaze, white scelera, a stocking, a sock, AND a full mane/tail?? Some breeder hit the jackpot with you! It’s hard to believe I don’t know your registration paperwork. If I have to pull any hairs from your cute little butt, it’s for POA DNA testing, okay?

21. That late summer day we did trot/canter sets in 2015 with Joy wreaking havoc behind us? She came in more winded than you did. You barely broke a sweat! It’s hard to believe I could ever be happier. It was a special day, one that I’ll always cherish.

22. All your leg drama of 2016/2017 made me cherish every time you run, play, roll, buck, and are comfortable enough to act like a horse. I’ll strive to keep you that way for the rest of your days.

23. I dread the day we have to part our ways with every fiber of my being. Sometimes it keeps me up at night. However, when it comes, I’ll be there for you the way you’ve been there for me.

24. You are truly and completely the pony of a lifetime. No one could be more special to me than you are. Joy holds a good portion of my heart, but you are the original; the reason I fell in love with riding and followed it on this wild, unbelievable journey. For the 17 years past and however many we have left, I’m beyond thankful. I’m entrenched in your debt. I won’t ever let you forget how loved you are!