Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Dark Jewel

I want to take a moment to memorialize a very special horse who was lost yesterday.

Desdemona was a young Canadian school horse at a barn I worked at over ten years ago, a horse with a gentle enough soul to carry kids around as a 3-year-old.  I took her on as my special project, wanting to preserve her extraordinary nature by sparing her being pulled and bounced on all day.   Missing that incomparable relationship with one horse, weary of hopping on something different constantly, Desi gave me that stability and the feeling of a horse that was mine during my time there. 

I have ridden probably close to one hundred horses in my life, and while they each had something to offer and teach, few have touched my heart like that mare.  Only a handful would I have liked to have as my own, and while it wasn't a possibility at the time, I would have bought Desi in a heartbeat.

She was a dark bay mare with a star and a lovely strip, an elongated triangle with the point toward her nose.  She had a delicate face and a refined build.  She was one of the kindest horses I have ever met, her generosity astonished me on so many occasions. 

One day when I was clipping her, I nicked the edge of her sweet ear, drawing a spot of blood.  I felt terrible, and rather than pulling away, she angelically lowered her head to let me try again.  I promised to do better.  I started her over fences and early on she took a bad stumble on landing and fell to her knees; I barely managed to stay on.  We took the jump again, and despite the scare she offered no hesitation. She was that kind of horse.

In the deep of winter when I would have evening lessons I would take her from her stall, scrape the icicles off her belly and sit on her in the arena to stay warm.

My favorite memory of her is getting to take her out on a conditioning ride with two other trainers on a couple of fancy imported warmbloods.  We took the horses to the polo fields and let them open up into a true gallop - the last time I have done so.  She didn't have to be asked twice - we flew over the earth and the velocity made my eyes water as I leaned over Desdemona's neck, her black mane whipping against my face.  She was pure speed and freedom; I trusted her completely.  While the warmbloods stayed keyed up for the rest of the ride, Desdemona came back to a peaceful walk.  

I started dressage work with her and when I said goodbye we rode a quiet test in the outdoor arena, a precious, reverent ride I knew would be our last. She was perfect and giving, as ever. 

I was overjoyed when I learned later that a mother and daughter who were among my favorite students had bought Desdemona. I couldn't have imagined a better match for a horse so deserving of her own people.  I am so deeply saddened for their loss. 

Thank you, Desdemona, for your beauty and grace.  You will never be forgotten. 

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