To My Best Friend
by Jenni Degree

To my best friend, of all the things I remember. I began riding Keeper when I was fourteen years old, eight years ago. His attitude and rowdiness almost sent me back to Sport, but I remember Mark pushing me to keep with it. How could a 4’10” girl control this 16.1hh bucking bronco? It took six months and a spooky trail ride, where I succeeded to calm him, to finally gain Keeper’s trust. I realized Keeper could never be controlled and that he would only show his beauty when you allowed him to be himself.

From that day on, my life changed forever. He was my best friend and sole confident through the rough days of high school. He wasn’t afraid to let me know when I pushed him too far, and sometimes he let me be right… sometimes. After much patience, he let me lead him on trail rides alone, on which I talked, cried, and even sang to him (I can’t believe he didn’t buck me off then). He was an elegant jumper, and like I always told people when they noticed his grace, “I don’t jump Keeper. Keeper jumps me.” My love for gaming didn’t stop this English splendor as he tried to be the best western horse that he could be for me. While we didn’t win many ribbons, I think our friendship and companionship won many hearts, especially mine.

He was my life, at least five days a week for six years. College eventually tore us apart, but I have since heard many beautiful stories of him from other riders that are similar to my own. Who I am today is a result of Keeper and his endless love. He was a patient, determined, and giving horse to say the least. I am almost positive his favorite moments were when I let him gallop freely down the old gallop strip. I gave him my trust, and he knew how much that meant. He held his head (and tail) high and proud, giving me the ride of my life. Although I ride alone now, I can still see him on the trail with me like so many other days, listening to my tears.

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