I’ve been working with horses for about 13 years now, and I love every minute with it. I’d like to share with you a story about someone who I hold very near and dear to my heart…
June 16 will mark the fourth anniversary of my best friend’s death. He may have only been a horse to some, but to me he was everything. Pooky made me who I am today. So in memory of him I wanted to share this story with everyone.
At the time I was 12 and living in Charlotte City. I never really had any friends. I had one friend with horses and had been enjoying riding since I was 11. When I turned 13, my sisters graduated, and my parents and I moved to a small town of about 100 people called Tlell. They own 8.5 acres with beach and dune as far as the eye can see.
I really wanted to get a horse of my own, but mom and dad said we really didn’t have the money at the time. So I figured that there was bound to be a horse out there that I could spend some time with. Sure enough, one of my teachers said he had a friend with two horses close to where I lived and as far as he knew, nothing was being done with them. I got the name and number of the lady and gave her a call.
She agreed to let me start spending time with her horses, so my dad drove me over to meet them. I walked into the field and was greeted by a Haflinger named Pooky and his Appaloosa mother Mercury. Right away I was in awe by the powerful look of Pooky. He wasn’t a tall horse. He stood only 14.3 hands. He was 14 years old, and had a huge neck with a Mohawk mane.
His owner proceeded to tell me stories about how he once broke though a barbwire fence with so much force that he barely even cut himself. It had been a year since he was ridden, and his last riding experience wasn’t very pleasant. A girl had been using him for 4-H and took him to a meeting, but left Mercury behind. Pooky had never been weaned from Mercury. So as you could imagine, he was very herd bound to her.
He flipped out so badly that people had to tie him to the back of a truck, because no one could hold onto him. This is where he got the nickname “The Tractor”. After the stories, the owner handed me the lead rope and walked away. I’ve always been a small built person, and at 13 years old, I stood at 5 feet tall and weighed about 68 pounds. Needless to say, I felt a little intimidated.
I started spending as much time with Pooky as I could, mostly just grooming him and leading him around the field. After a couple of weeks, my dad also got involved and started spending time with Mercury. It took me almost a year to get to the point where I could get on Pooky and take him out of the field. He was very strong and was not going to make it easy for me. Sometimes, I’d get on him and he’d grab my leg and yank me off. I could see why a lot of people gave up on him in the past. But I was not going to be one of those people. I knew that somewhere in that hard shell was a kind, soft soul, and I was determined to reach it.
Pooky and I grew closer and closer day by day, as school got harder and harder for me. After a particularly bad day, I got off the school bus, walked into the field, sat on a log and proceeded to cry. Suddenly, I heard Pooky neigh, and I looked up to see him running to me. He put his head over my shoulder and held me there. I put my arms around his massive neck and cried. He held me there the whole time, just comforting me. I knew that there was softness in that horse, and an amazing connection!
This went on for a while – I’d get off the school bus crying, and Pooky would comfort me. My parents ended up pulling me out of school for a couple of years to try some home schooling. During that time Pooky and Mercury were brought to our place. Pooky and I become inseparable. He was tough for anyone but me. I could get him to leave Mercury, we were one of the best in 4-H and we did hours of beach riding. Those home school years were the best riding years I ever had.
Pooky helped me get through the hard school years. But all good things must come to an end. I graduated and moved. Pooky foundered in all four feet and battled it for three years. About two years ago, I got the dreaded call from my dad. Pooky’s owner informed him that Pooky had passed away. I don’t ever remember crying that hard, and I still cry to this day.
Although I have had other horses that have helped me and also touched my heart, none can compare to this phenomenal horse. He was, and still is my best friend in the entire world. He gave me the ambition to pursue a career with horses. I am now 23 and have been working with horses as a profession since I was 19. My dreams are still strong as I work with some of the most wonderful horses I have ever met. It warms my heart to know that my best buddy is watching over me. I think of him as my Equine Angel. Thank you, Pooky, for sharing your world with me and letting me into you heart. You will always be in mine. I love you forever.