Losing any animal you love is a sad experience, and often devastating. And I’ve found it doesn’t matter if you lose a horse, a bunny, a cat or a dog… you still grieve if you have loved.
Reno was not my horse- he was owned by a Native American friend. John owns one of the largest farms on Sauvie Island and is partial to the fine breed of Tennessee Walking Horses, who can cover a vast amount of ground at a very smooth running walk gait that no other breed of horse can do. John needs to inspect his farmland daily, so he just saddles up one of his walking horses and leaves the truck in the driveway. He always preferred Reno, because that horse knew the program and went straight to work. He could cover more ground faster than any other horse.
When I had to put my last dressage horse down, Androcoles (Andy), I was “horseless” for the first time since I was 12. I’ve spent over 10,000 hours of my life with horses, so the pain of going through horse withdrawal was long and hard. John saw this, and in his kind, understated and caring way, called me up and asked me to come over to “help him out” and ride Reno. Thus began our special friendship.
I rode Reno several times over the past 4 years, and I grew to admire, respect and love him. It slowly filled up the hole in my heart and he kept me connected. He was an intelligent, honest, and athletic horse with a great work ethic. And that running walk! You could hold a glass of champagne, lean back and let him rip and never spill a drop! That just tells you how smooth the Tennessee Walker’s gait is!
He was not old, but his time was up. Fortunately, he didn’t die alone. John was with him till the end. And when the pain became too much, the vet ended his suffering. We all know that this selfless act takes an enormous amount of courage, and I’m grateful that John was there. He and Reno had a very special bond.
I will always remember Reno ripping down country roads, at what felt like a 40 mph running walk, with my hair flying and marveling that riding a horse could be so much fun (vs. a dressage horse which is so much work!)
Last night, it was actually warm in Portland,and I was sitting outside and looking at the stars. I visualized Reno, mane flying, at his fast running walk, streaking across the sky- and I smiled. By now, I’m sure he he has made it all the way to Heaven.