This year has been a whirlwind of unexpected loss and I’ve done a terrible job writing about all of it. I’ve kept the world updated on Instagram, but not everyone is on Instagram, so it’s time to share the goings on, here.
To start, we have to go all the way back to May.
On May 16, 2018, I had to say goodbye to one of my dearest friends, Gump.
That day was the last day I got to rub his neck, or place my head in his mane. When I had a bad day, he could be counted on to turn it around. At 22, Gump wasn’t exceptionally old, but in his 22 years he lived a lot of life. For several years he’d found himself retired. He’d had kids groom him, but hadn’t been ridden since around 2013, as his arthritis had gotten the better of him. I retired him from barrel racing in 2012.
He was the fastest horse I’ve ever thrown a leg over. And also one of the kindest. He pretty much taught me how to rope in a branding pen (I’m still not a good roper but he kept me safe nonetheless). You couldn’t have a bad ride on him. It simply wasn’t possible.
He was solid as an oak, and always tried hard. We ran barrels in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, as well as here at home.
He was a gift. And I mean in the literal sense as well. He was what my Cowboy gave me for my 31st birthday.
At first, Gump was hard for me to catch, because I carried a lot of angst, anger and agenda in me. He read me better than I read myself. He taught me, how to be better. How to have more patience. How to read a situation. How to come at him with no agenda, simply to be his friend. He changed the way I look at the horse-human relationship. He taught me, and others, plenty in his lifetime. I am forever grateful.
I knew his time might be coming, but I wasn’t ready. To make matters worse, the Cowboy was gone when the decision had to be made. So it was up to me to do the best thing for my friend and that decision is never easy. He will be missed by this entire family.