I'd been thinking about it for months. Maybe even a year. Then the day came and went, and I didn't even acknowledge it, at least not the way I should have. I told a handful of people, "My old grey horse, Reggie, turns 30 today."
Reggie is my grand old lesson pony, left in the fabulous care of a dear friend in Colorado when I moved to Califonia in 2008. It broke my heart to have to leave him, but it would have been selfish to uproot him and haul him halfway across the country at his age.
I'd intended to write something sigificant, something memorable, something that would adequately capture the essence of the little grey horse that could. But every time I sat down to tackle the task I realized just how much there was - just how big this little grey horse really is.
So many stories, so little internet!
Nearly eleven years ago, I had just arrived in Colorado and was in desperate need of a good "baby beginner" lesson mount for my newly established Premier Riding School. A friend of a friend of a friend told me about this 19 year-old grey Arabian gelding, registered with the Purebred Arabian Horse Association as High Regard. He was described as having "a lot of use left in him" and the owner was looking to give him to a good home so that he "didn't go to waste". I'd like to say I rescued him from a nearly abandoned barn, regretfully leaving his stablemate behind, but I realize now that he saved me. Because he quickly established himself as the safest, most trustworthy, most well-trained lesson horse I've ever had the privilege to call my own. He became the anchor of my riding lesson program.
Reggie was the horse that endured bouncing, pulling and mixed signals as students learned the basics of horsemanship and balance. Not that he was a dead-head or without flaws, but I quickly learned not to judge this rough, fleabitten, arthritic, old gelding by his cover. He was smart. Too smart, sometimes. He was sensitive and opinionated (ask my vet!). And he was funny. As in, he laughed at his own jokes. This little grey horse was unmatched in the humor department, and he reminded me to lighten up when I needed it. So, I laughed with him.
He understood his job, and took it very seriously. He didn't just carry people around - he safely instilled confidence in the most timid of riders, but knew when a student had turned a corner and was ready to take it to the next level. He taught me how to teach people to ride. Over the years I watched him humble countless riding students when they needed it, including advanced show riders and adults. Just try getting on him with any inkling in your mind that you know more than he does. Sometimes an advanced adult rider wouldn't be able to get him to trot. At all. He was his own version of, "So you think you can ride?"
But he was so much more than just any lesson horse. I spent at least an hour a day with Reggie, usually six days a week, for seven years. He was my business partner and my friend. He taught my students every bit of horsemanship, from the ground up. I used to tell people, "he teaches the lessons, not me!" He didn't just teach students to ride, but to listen, as well. Myself included.
But wait, there's so much more: Reggie has touched the lives of so many, please complete his story, from your perspective, in the comments below. Whether it's a whole story, or just a quick sentence, Reg and I want to hear from you! Spread the word...there's a PRIZE involved - ten notecards with Reggie's face on them to my favorite comment before August 15, 2010!