King (formerly named Wimpy) , 1982-2007

king
Meg Thompson and King

Remembering King
by Meg Thompson

The first time I rode King, it was also the first time I had ever been in group lessons at Windy Ridge. My dad and I grabbed his halter and set out to find him. I tentatively called his name. We walked around the horsey hotel a couple times.  My dad asked me why a bay horse was following us around. I didn’t really pay attention; I was too busy worrying about how I was going to find this horse. Finally I went back inside and asked someone what the heck he looked like. After hearing the description, I realized that King had been following us all along! As I stood unbuckling the wrong buckles and getting very frustrated, King just waited patiently. Finally with the help of other considerate riders, I was up and ready.

The first few lessons were rough, I admit. King was not my dream “black stallion” and I certainly wasn’t National Velvet or anything. One especially frustrating time, when King and I were not having a very good ride, Mark told me to get off and watch. As soon as he got on him, with seemingly no direction, King took off at one of the fastest gallops I’ve ever seen him do. As they rounded the turn, I knew that I was going to ride King like that someday.

Well, later that summer, he and I got the chance. We were participating in the four-person team barrels. I had never seen the pattern before, and it was my first show. I worked with King, urging him to go off my leg. Finally our time came.  We stepped out from under the tree, into the sun. The group started a fast canter, with king coming right along. I was the only one riding English, and King was the oldest horse. But he gave it his all. I could feel him trying his hardest. Now this, I thought, is riding. We were doing great until the final barrel.  Due to my own ignorance, not any fault of King’s, we took a wrong turn and were disqualified.  I was having so much fun with him, I didn’t even care about not getting a ribbon.

When my friend got bucked off on a trail ride and didn’t want to ride her horse back, I offered King, because I knew he would carry her safely back. I trusted that ole boy with my life.

King taught me how to ride. He carried me on his bony withers and old back to where I am now. When I moved on to Captain, it was not because of my skill, but King’s work. That old horse gave me all he could, and I gave as much as I could back.  He doesn’t owe me anything.  He gave all he could.

On Saturday morning, after class, I went into the pasture to see him. The shine had gone from his reddish coat, and he seemed to have less balance. I climbed over the fence and held him, stroking the face I had stood next to, brushed, pulled bridles over, and stroked for two years. I fed him a carrot, and the treat he had once crunched in three seconds flat now hung loosely from his mouth. I encouraged him, now getting teary. “C’mon, KG, you love these.  Please?”  I saw a flicker of light in his deep brown eyes. His lips moved, and the carrot disappeared. I fed him two more. Then his body spun slowly away.  I could have sworn that I saw a pleading look as he uncontrollably turned away. Make it stop. Please. You with the carrots.  I just stood next to him, making up for all the disagreements that we had, the cold nights I didn’t visit him, the time I didn’t spend riding with him, petting and stroking and hugging him, spilling tears on his dark coat. I told him how much I loved him, over an over. Then I said goodbye, and walked quickly to the car. I didn’t want to look back, because I knew I’d never leave if I did. I sobbed the whole way home.

I know that no one could have done anything to keep him there.  He had lived a good long life, and I had been extremely blessed to spend even a minute with him.  I thank God for the good times I had with him.  But even this knowledge won’t fill the empty space once filled by him.

I love you, King.

Meg Thompson

 

Memories of King
by Katie Lynch

King was a very good and trustworthy horse.  I only rode King for a year.  This was about four years ago and I remember that time as being very special with him.  I had not been riding for a couple of years and I had asked Mark for a “reliable horse that I could trust”.   This was also because I had recently had surgery and I had a one year old baby at home.  I loved and trusted King.  

King had a very soft mouth and was very responsive.  He could really set a pace and one time in class I remember Mark laughing and asking me if I had been ready for King’s burst of speed during a lesson where we were doing “back to front” of the line.  King had kept asking to go by poking his nose out and I had to keep bringing his head back in and telling him that we had to wait our turn and when it was- we were flying.

There are stories of King and his “personality” which at times showed through as he pulled a few pranks and certainly tested his riders with years of wisdom.  I think he had everyone pegged.  But, through it all he gave each of his riders what they needed.  He gave me confidence to get back into riding.   King had a great heart.

I rode King for a ski jorring demonstration at a Valentine Fun Show.  One of the spectators said “King?”, as we headed towards the pasture to perform.  Well, King never gave skis and especially pulling Molly on skis behind him, a second thought.  After we had sped through the pasture and woods, King was really surprised by all the people clapping for him- his head and ears went up, as he looked around and then … he was proud.

It was very difficult to see him in such sad shape his last night at WRR.  There he stood loyal and true as always.  He pushed his head into my jacket and stood quietly while I pat him and talked to him.  There was concern about his condition making it difficult to leave the barn and load into the trailer.  Not to worry, steadfast as always he walked out of the barn and then after considering the trailer for awhile he climbed right in-a very good boy to the end.

Good bye King, you wonderful, wonderful horse.

Katie Lynch