I had to say goodbye to a friend today, and I’m not sure how I’m doin’ just yet.
Katrina, Kat for short, was a big beautiful bay mare. Registered paint, “breeding stock.” She was the reason I moved back to Colorado; she needed to be started and I needed out of Texas. She was coming 7 and big, 16 hands, plus or minus. She had the heart of a lion and a tiny little “fraidy cat” button.
She started well, just eased around and not too much bothered her. The first time I asked her to lope out, she bucked me off, right over the swells of my saddle. I landed on my feet with one rein still in my hand. She stopped bucking and looked at me like, “What the hell are you doing there?”
I never did ride out one of her bucking fits. No kidding, her front feet would be 2 feet off of the ground, and she’d be kicking her hind feet way above her head, honkin’ and bellerin’ with every jump. She always acted like it scared her, but the truth is, once she got goin’ she dug it.
She was amazingly nimble and athletic for a horse her size. She had a trot you could ride all day and roll cigarettes without ever losin’ a flake of tobacco.
I have a Christmas card photo of us down in the sand washes in New Mexico that just shows “who she was.”
She hurt herself last night, hung a foot up in the fence someplace and just damn near cut her hoof off. There was nothin’ I could do, there was no repairing the damage done.
She took her journey while I knelt by her side, crying and rubbing her neck.
She had the heart of a lion, the soul of Mother Theresa and the sense of humor of Billy Connolly.
I will miss her ...
Tom James was riding horses before he could walk. He currently hangs his hat in Ignacio. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.