Friday, June 12, 2009

Characters Everywhere



Everyone has a backstory. Even peripheral characters. Even pets. I'm sure Runner Bean from the Charlie Bone books a story to tell.

This is a picture of two old souls with long stories.
They were both old when I met them; thoroughbreds retired from the racetrack to the show ring, and then retired from the show ring to the lesson barn, both at the end of their carriers. The gray was a huge old gelding named Dwight. I have no idea what his registered name was, although he had the tattooed upper lip that proved he was at one time a racehorse.
The chestnut mare was his best friend, Cheerios. At the time she was 29, still perky, with a little bit of grey on her nose. She still had a strong, straight back and sound legs. She gave lessons to the littlest beginners, five and six year old girls who were so excited to ride a real racehorse. She was the low mare on the totem pole out in the pasture, and she stuck very close to me when I brought her out in the evenings.

I last saw them about seven years ago. Cheerios, after decades of carrying riders over racetracks and jumps and trails, was finally beginning to slow down, and Dwight was developing back problems that would retire him from riding permanently.
Not long after, probably some time around her 30th birthday, Cheerios was finally put to sleep. Dwight might still be around, but I haven't heard from him in a while. He would be in his 20s, which is a good age for any horse.

They were a great old pair, always looking out for each other, always together out in the pasture. They must have had wild stories to tell. Each one could have been owned by dozens of people, traveled the country, carried hundreds of riders and won countless ribbons and rosettes. Someone somewhere has other photos of them, at shows, in other pastures, with other horses, with a jockey in the saddle.

Some horses have well documented lives. But the ones living at riding stables, or working as lesson horses, they have the colorful backstories.