She was probably my closest friend. I fell in love with her the first moment that I saw her. We had an incredible bond and could communicate without a single word.
My wife had just gotten a new horse for our daughter; he was a beautiful purebred black Arabian named SS Ebony Ali. His barn name was Coal. Coal grew to be such a dear friend to all of us. He was always so polite and so sweet and gentle. And he was a joy to ride. He had this floating rhythm much like a carousel horse. I had been considering getting a horse of my own for quite some time. I hadn’t really had much riding experience other than a few times when I was a kid on rental horses. And of course I had been riding Coal a little bit since we purchased him. But his sweetness, his gentle nature, his athleticism, and his intelligence led me to believe I should be looking for an Arabian, for at least a half Arab for my horse.
We saw an ad in the classifieds for a half Arab that a lady was selling up in Layton. I had a business trip planned to go to Washington, so I had to put the whole thing on hold for a couple of weeks. When we got back, much to my surprise that ad had reappeared. My wife and I made arrangements to go see this horse. Layton is quite a journey from our house, so it was something we had to definitely plan into our schedule.
When we went to the house, the horse’s owner, Becky, told us to meet her around back at a circle down below as the corral and horse trailer were nearby. A couple minutes later Becky came riding up the path on this beautiful bay horse. Becky told me that the horse’s name was “Perhaps”. Perhaps looked at me, and I looked at her sweet eyes. I told her that she was quite pretty, and I leaned my head over and we touched foreheads. It was at that moment that I knew I had found my horse. Now I just had to talk my wife into this as she is the horse expert in our world.
As Sheri knew that I didn’t have a lot of riding experience, she asked if it was okay if she rode Perhaps first. Becky told us that Perhaps had not been ridden in some time as she had been away at college, and that is why she had to sell the horse. Perhaps wasn’t the most cooperative in getting saddled, and I guess she gave Sheri some difficulties on her test ride. She came back in a few minutes, and told me that she thought the horse was pretty hot and quite a handful. She was pretty reluctant for me to even get on. But I was insistent, and I told her that I would be okay.
So I hopped on Perhaps, and asked her to turn as we headed for the trail. She bounded down the hill through the tall grass until we hit the trail. She seems so happy, and we rode a little ways down the trail back to the circle where I had first seen her. I wanted a little more time on her, so I turned her around and we started back up the trail again towards Becky’s trailer. I took a couple of short detours, and then we stopped under a large tree to take in the shade. I bent over so that I could pet her mane, and stroked her neck several times. I told her she was really cute, and I thought that we would make a good team. She seemed quite happy and contented, and evidently we had stopped and had our “conversation” a little longer than I had guessed. When we finally made it back up to the trailer, Sheri was quite concerned and asked me if I was okay. I laughed, and I told her that I was great, and that I thought Perhaps was awesome. I explained that I just stopped in the shade to pet her and to think about things for a few minutes.
Sheri being the practical person that she is, told me that we should go look at other horses before I made any decisions. Of course I did that begrudgingly, but I did think it was a good idea. However, in my heart I had already made the decision that Perhaps and I were going to be buddies.
Well, you can probably figure out what happened next. The next day she came home with us in our horse trailer. We formed an incredible bond that lasted the rest of her life. We spent countless hours riding, grooming, and just spending time together. One of her favorite things to do with me was to untie herself from the hitching post while I was getting ready to ride. Perhaps was an absolute magician as I could never figure out how she could untie that rope so smoothly that I never felt a thing. I would be brushing her legs or cleaning her feet, and look up and realize that she had untied herself. She used to like to nibble the grass under the hitching post. I would ask her how she did this, and she always gave me this look as if to say, “Hey, you just didn’t tie me up.”
We took riding lessons together as I needed to learn my skills, and I think Perhaps knew that I needed to learn some things as well. During our first riding lesson, the trainer made us ride in what seemed like endless circles, over and over. Out of the blue, Perhaps suddenly bolted out of her circle and trotted right over in front of the trainer. She looked the trainer in the eyes, and I know what she was thinking: “We’re sick of circles; let’s do something else.”
Another time when we were getting ready for our lesson, we both noticed that there was only one radio left, but there was another lady in front of us ready to grab the radio. Well, you would just have to know Perhaps as she was quite the problem solver. As soon as I stepped up onto the stirrup, she took off at a trot headed straight for that radio. She headed off the lady, and put me in the perfect position to just lean over and grab that radio. I snagged it, and quickly clipped it to my belt. (Our trainer used two way radios to help us communicate in the large arena.) Needless to say, the trainer was none too happy with our moves. But even though I got in trouble, I leaned over and made sure to tell Perhaps how impressed I was with her moves.
I could go on and on with the stories about our adventures together. We were truly best friends, and I always felt so at peace when I was with her. Sometimes if I was having a bad day, I would just go out and spend time with her either while she was on the pasture, or I would groom her in her stall.
One evening I had been out changing irrigation water, and I stopped into the barn to say hello, and give Perhaps and the others some treats before bedtime. I noticed that Perhaps was limping really badly as she came over to get the treats out of my hand. She had been fine that morning and seemed fine when we put her in her stall for the evening. So I thought that it was possible she had developed an abscess in one of the front hooves as she had recently been shoed. The next morning I could tell she was still in serious pain, so we took her to the vet.
After some testing and some x-rays the doctor told me that she had severe laminitis, and that there had been rotation in both of her front hooves. That is the news that every horse owner dreads as it is usually a death sentence for your horse. Laminitis is a condition in which the connective tissue between the hoof wall and the foot bone becomes inflamed and can tear. If the tissue tears, that can allow the foot bone to rotate within the hoof capsule. This is what happened to Perhaps. I was absolutely devastated.
We fought the battle for three weeks. Our vet brought in a special farrier who had experience in orthotic shoeing and corrective procedures for laminitis. At first she seemed like she was improving, but then she took another turn for the worst. The last few days, she mostly laid down a lot. Her stall run was pretty deep sand, so I let her spend some time in there as she always loved being outdoors. I knew I had to take her back to the doctor, but I was scared. I knew I didn’t want to know what they were going to tell me.
We backed the horse trailer up to some grass next to the pasture to make it easier for Perhaps to get in the trailer. We had given her some pain meds about an hour before we were going to load her into the trailer, hoping this would make the journey more tolerable. I will never forget this for the rest of my days. She got in the trailer on her own with no problems. I could tell it hurt a lot, but she was so brave. Our vet is about 25 miles south of our house, so the journey takes a little while. As soon as we pulled into their parking lot, I jumped out to check on Perhaps. The pain medication was in full force, and she seemed alright. She willfully hobbled out of the trailer, and we walked into the exam room together.
The doctor checked her over, and then he x-rayed both of her front feet again. There was more rotation, and one of her bones was going to come down through the bottom of her hoof. I knew what was coming. The doctor told me that there was no choice at this point in time. In another day or two her foot bone would burst through the bottom of her hoof capsule. He told me that we needed to put her down as that would be the most compassionate thing to do. There was no way to save her.
I looked in her eyes, and I didn’t have to say a word. I know that she knew. The doctor told me to take as much time as I wanted to tell Perhaps goodbye. I looked into her eyes again, and I told her how much I loved her. I told her that she had been my best friend, and I told her that she made me a better person. I told her that she taught me patience, and that she taught me more compassion. I thanked her for the time that she had spent teaching me how to ride and for all of the good times we had together. I told her how brave I thought she was, and I told her that she taught me to cherish every moment of every day. I learned these things from her.
When it was time, the doctor gave her the medicine. She lay down, then she closed her eyes. And then Perhaps was gone. I sat with her for a long time petting her and hugging her. I cannot describe how this felt other than to say that I was completely devastated.
It was a year before I could go into her stall without completely breaking down. Perhaps has been gone now five years ago last August. I have not gotten another horse. I don’t think I can go through that again. To this day, thinking about the situation brings me to tears. I don’t know if I will ever fully recover. I just try to think about all of the good times that we had together. Perhaps was truly my best buddy.