For Great Justice

I shall not write about World of Warcraft today.  You see, today is the 20th of March. 

Five years ago,  at the not-so-brilliant age of 19, I gave myself an early birthday present (ten days if you’re counting along at home, my dears).  It was a foolish present that no one in my situation, and possessing any sense, should have gotten.  But who has common sense at that age?  Sure as hell not me.

At the time, I volunteered at an equine rescue, because horses were-are!-my deepest passion in life.  I rode very seldom, for most of the horses there were unsuitable for complete novices like myself, but I still enjoyed dispensing love and attention to them all.  But as almost always happens when the truly horse crazy lingers around a rescue too long…

Two new arrivals came in.  One was a strapping Thoroughbred/Percheron gelding, a show horse who had been retired after one too many injuries caused by his owner jumping a horse who had no business jumping.  But never mind that.  His name was Starbuck, he was huge, and he was also a domineering horse who would make your life living hell if he sensed the slightest bit of pushover about you.  After our first Come to Jesus moment, we got long amiably enough, but my 6′ something friend latched onto him.

The second was a horse that I originally pegged as a youngster, because he was into every single god damned thing.  Brush?  What’s this?  Can I eat it?  Omnomnom.  Oh hey, it fell off the table.  What’s this?  Can I eat it?  Omnomnom oh hey look, that fell off too. Oh hey, a gate!  I want out!  What is this chain?  Omnomnom.  Oh look, it opened!  Etc, etc, etc. 

I found out later that he was actually much older than that, a Tennessee Walking Horse, and a complete attention whore.  In a stroke of utter brilliance, young and on my own and working a shitty job and with no offiical riding skills what so ever, I adopted him.

Believe it or not, that is the face of a saint.  Or the face of a horse who was merely too lazy to pull any of the shenanigans I doubtlessly deserved-hard to say, really.

His name was Beau Justice, and I loved him.  And he loved me, in his quirky little way.  He met me at the gate, whickering.  If I did not open it fast enough he’d rest his hoof on the bottom of the fence and glare.  If I tried to fetch another horse out of the pasture he played Herd the Owner, and if I stopped by just to say hi and tried to leave before he wanted me too (read: before I fed him), he’d grab my shirt in my teeth.

It was the stupidest thing I’d ever done in my life, and more than once my horse got his feet trimmed on time and I didn’t have a cell phone for a few weeks.  But he also saved my sanity during a time when my life spiraled into hell, complete with whackjob abusive boyfriend.  He was love.  He was acceptance.  He was freedom.  He was a lazy son of a bitch with crooked legs, little training, and no papers, and I’d give anything to have him again.

He died last year, for he was older than I’d been told.  He died last year, and I hadn’t seen him in…two years?  Because I’d moved, and left him behind, and while the intent had been to bring him to me as soon as possible, life has a way of being a bitch.  In the end he was a far more faithful companion than the man I left him behind for, but even if I was not there, I can tell myself that he died comfortably and cared for, and not the lonely and neglected animal I first acquired.

It doesn’t work, of course.  The 20th of March will always be a bittersweet day. The day I did the Best Stupid Thing Ever.  The day I’ll kick myself for leaving him behind.  The day I’ll remember him stepping on my foot and permanently fucking up my toe nail.  And I’ll remember one long, glorious trail ride together-our favorite thing to do.  And the time he broke the watering trough three times in two weeks so that he could stick his head in the spray.  And all the times he patiently made his way around the pasture while I taught myself to ride (sort of).  And all the times he let me put other people on his back and took damned fine care of them.  And all the times his response to me telling him to canter was the worst pace EVER to teach me the error of my ways. 

So I dedicate today to the best horse ever: part saint, part toddler, part overgrown dog.  Thanks for putting up with my, Beau m’boy, and I promise I’ll learn what the fuck I’m doing before I aquire your successor.

I hope I didn’t do too badly by you.  At least I didn’t abandon you in a field like your previous owner-I’ve got to have some credit due for that, I guess.  And if I hadn’t adopted you, Roger would have kept you, and Roger was a shitastic person.  So I’ll stop feeling guilty some day, maybe.  We had some good years together, you and I.  

Every weekend I volunteer at the barn, it’s mostly because I miss you.
-Amber

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  1. #1 by Holy Dueg! on March 20, 2009 - 10:22 am

    The thing that is both great and terrible about having animals as our companions is that they give us so much love for only a short period of time. Just remember that without you, his life would’ve been that much colder and lonely. You did what you had to do and he accepted you for who you were and that’s better than you’ll get from some people. Don’t ever let go of youre memories and always cherish them.

  2. #2 by dorgol on March 20, 2009 - 10:24 am

    A very touching tribute.

  3. #3 by Lewis on March 20, 2009 - 10:48 am

    Hang on, my monitor’s getting all blurry…oh. It’s not the monitor. It’s my eyes.

    Really neat post. Animals do make the best friends, don’t they? They have less of a capacity to screw you over than your fellow human beings sometimes do.

  4. #4 by Myssidia on March 20, 2009 - 12:05 pm

    ;.; He’s adorable.

  5. #5 by Elleiras on March 20, 2009 - 12:11 pm

    Damn you, Amber. One of my coworkers just walked by and asked me why I was crying.

    I’ve been involved in rescue (canine, feline and equine) for most of my adult life. The stories of abuse and neglect are absoultely soul-crushing. But stories like this — sad and bittersweet and uplifting, all at the same time — are what keep us all going, as I’m sure you know well. Thank you for sharing it.

    /hug

  6. #6 by kyrilean on March 20, 2009 - 2:08 pm

    Very well written. Very touching. Very heartfelt.

  7. #7 by Pixelated Executioner on March 20, 2009 - 6:38 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Amber. It’s funny just how much animals touch our lives, no matter how long they’re with us.

    My heart goes out to you; when I left North Carolina, I had to leave my best friend behind – my cat – with my ex-wife. One day, I know that I’ll hear from her that he’s gone, and I’ll be a complete wreck (yeah, hush, guys can get emotional, too).

    Hopefully the memories of the time I had with him will be enough. I hope they always will be for you, too.

  8. #8 by Anea on March 20, 2009 - 11:46 pm

    Very touching – I’m so glad you had a chance to make his life better.

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