He was "my" horse, but everyone loved him and I was happy to share him. I knew what it was like not to have your own horse (and here I am again), and I knew that allowing him to be used in lessons, camps, and leasing him was a way to "pay it forward", or maybe it's pay back? Either way.
I didn't foresee the impact it would have, which came to a crescendo this week. We moved to our current barn in November 2011. The BO mentioned she wanted to start a show series at the barn and the idea became a reality last summer with 5 shows. I think I rode in 3 of the 5 and was in attendance for part of one more, so I only missed one. They were so much fun. I volunteered to run the registration table at 4 of the shows. I showed Junior western for the first one, then English for the others. One or two shows I shared him with his Other People and he was used by a few lesson kids and in nearly every medal class for the IEA riders.
On Sunday we had our first year-end banquet for the show series. The BO really outdid herself. The season awards were beautiful, the venue was great, and there were two huge projection screens showing photos from the shows. It was hard to look at the ones of Junior, but it was also wonderful to see the ones I hadn't seen before, including his OP lady riding him in Musketeer costume and bobbing for apples at the show I missed.
When awards were given out I was surprised to find out I had won 3 of the classes: Trail, Equitation/Horsemanship Pattern WTC, and Adult WT Equitation. We also had 2nd in Showmanship, and 4th in Command Class. We even received a tie for High Point Rider at the first show. The BO gave us big beautiful tri-color ribbons. I've never received a tri-color before, and now, thanks to that awesome roan oaf, I have four.
Each time my name was called and I went up to the front to receive the ribbon and have my photo taken, I had a harder time holding myself together. It was bitter sweet to celebrate how awesome my horse was, while being reminded he is gone and that our success together was over. Junior's OP each won some placings, too, and his guy won "Shiniest Horse Award" because he had slipped right off him during a bareback class. I wasn't even there and I don't own showsheen so I cannot be held responsible, but it gave us all a good chuckle and he was a good sport about it.
At the end of the ceremony. The BO announced that there was a new perpetual award for the horse of the year. She said there was no question that it was Junior, that the award would be forever called "The Junebug Horse of the Year Award", and that there would be a trophy in the lounge with each winner's name engraved. At this point I was not able to hold the tears back and I went up to receive a lovely silver bowl engraved with:
Junebug Horse of the Year Perpetual Award
Glaciers Majestic JR
|Yes, a friend even found me a bottle of pinot named after him.|
I hugged the BO while we both cried and the whole room (110+ people) gave us a standing ovation. I received lots of hugs afterwards and there were many people sharing the bittersweet tears of celebrating such a wonderful horse. It wasn't until I was on my drive home that I wished I would have asked for a photo with all of the "kids" who'd ever ridden him or worked with him in the summer camps. It would have been such a huge group. This perpetual trophy is a beautiful and humbling tribute to Junior's life.
Everyone loved Junior. Everywhere we went, strangers would tell me how "cute" or "beautiful" he was. Every trainer we worked with thought he was great and had tons of potential, from my Dressage trainer who called him my "soul mate", to the cow-horse trainer who was impressed by how quickly he went from "WTF are those!" to "Lemme at 'em!" and everyone in between. The round-pen/behaviorist thought he was very intelligent and responsive, the announcer at the Cowboy Challenge was agog that he was actually an "arena horse" the day we took home 2nd place. The vets/techs at the equine hospital all adored him. And you all loved him, too, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this. I wish you all could have met him, ridden him, gotten loved-on by him.
He taught me so much and tolerated so much of my shenanigans, just as I tolerated many of his. He was the life of the party and the light of my life. I will never have a horse like him again. He truly was a once-in-a-lifetime horse. I miss him so much, but eventually I am going to heal, and he will always be with me.