When a Horse is Your Best Friend

I’ve always been a lover of both books and horses. Sometimes I’d even combine the two and read while sitting or laying on the back of my horse while he was eating. During my childhood, one of my absolute favorite books was BLACK BEAUTY. If you’ve never read this classic by Anne Sewell, and you have any interest in horses, I highly recommend it. It taught me a lot on how to treat animals, as well as human beings.

I first met my own personal Black Beauty when I was ten years old. My dad took my out to the horse pastures one spring and showed me the new crop of foals grazing alongside their mothers. Then he took me over to a dun colored mare with a striking solid black foal and said, “If you want, he can be yours.”

He was such a spunky little foal. I loved being out them with him, rubbing him down and getting to know him. About four years later, and lots of training sessions under his girth strap, I was finally allowed to ride my big black horse. He stood over 16 hands tall, which is quite tall for a quarter horse, and had a full black mane and tail.

I went everywhere I could with this guy. Every day of the summer I rode him and made sure to get time in on school days after I finished my homework. After I got married and moved away for graduate school, I didn’t get to ride near as often. However, whenever we got a chance when we visited family, we went riding.

Then one day I got a phone call from my dad telling me that my horse, who was reaching the age of about 22, had been kicked by another horse, broke his leg, and had to be put down. It was hard to look at all my photos with him in it and not feel a pang of loss. He’d been my best friend through those rough high school days when it felt like no one was my friend except him.

I also couldn’t stop smiling every time I thought of him and the places we had explored, the mountains we climbed, and the rivers beds we played in.

Then I decided to write a book, and my main character rode a black horse because I had ridden a black horse. Though in that first book I had given the animal a different name. But with the release of my third book, I wanted to honor my black horse and best friend by putting him in the book. Therefore, he came to be the one to carry our infamous Reina Aventi on her many adventures in THE QUEEN OF THE NIGHT.

I owe so much to the horses who’ve been in my life. They’ve taught me much about people and how to interact with others. Without their help, I’d never have learned to trust my instincts and share my light, and my books, with others.

Here’s to you Jag.

While attending a yoga retreat, we were asked to paint anything that came to our minds. I found my thoughts centering on my horse, so I painted him as a memorial to all the wonderful times we shared.

Published by Vanessa Thurgood

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