Willow – Stayready Sunshine – Little Miss

Here is nobility without conceit, friendship without envy, beauty without vanity.  A willing servant, yet no slave.

-Robert Duncan

Some people saw Willow as a small horse, standing only 14.2 hands high but to me she was larger then life. When she was only two years old Mark and Marcia trusted me to bring her through her young life training her to be the best. I took this responsibility and rode her like she was my very own. I don’t ever expect to have such an amazing horse again. From the bucks she threw to the steady trot she sometimes did just for me, I loved every bit of her. She had a large spot on her belly that you could only see when she rolled, and her mane split off onto both sides despite my attempts to tame it. Ever since she was just a baby she loved to have her tail scratched and I loved to do it for her. I loved the feel of her soft nose on my back when I bent down to pick her feet and the way that her ears felt when they rubbed against my face. I will never forget those big blue eyes that looked to me for guidance and the way she let me kiss the soft skin of her eyelid when I told her what a good girl she was. I couldn’t have loved her one bit more.

I will never forget the look she gave me when I called her name out in the feedlot. She would wait where she was until I asked her “Whatcha doin babe?” and told her what a pretty girl she was and on came my baby girl. Walking with her head swinging side to side just slightly, her ears perked forward. I remember not long ago when I arrived at the barn, I said something to a rider in the ring and when I reached the feedlot Willow was already peeked around a feeder over another horse waiting for my greeting. I know that she would do anything I asked of her up until the very last moment. I have never felt that kind of connection with anyone in my life. It almost surprised me when she would switch directions with a shift in my weight and stop on a dime when I would exhale just loud enough for her to hear. When I got on top of her my worries were washed away and it was only her and I that mattered most. Not a kick, just a kiss, and we would be flying as fast as she could carry me.

I fell off of her out on the trail a couple years ago, when she was running as fast as could be, without prompting by me though I do think she thought I would enjoy it as much as she did! I broke my ankle that day but there wasn’t a moment when I was upset with her. She bared my weight and walked with me to safety ignoring the biting mosquitoes, almost like she apologized for wanting to have so much fun. I wish now that I could bear her weight. Willow deserves so much respect and love; she was the best little horse.

As a team, others remember us best for our competitive nature in the game events. Through the years we developed a special bond where each of us anticipated the next move that should be made -- an unbeatable pair. It made me laugh sometimes when Willow would decide she knew best and would think two poles ahead. If we skipped the last two we could be finished with the pattern now and get a better time! Right? She often knew what I was thinking before even I knew. I remember a time I was cantering around the ring and she saw a barrel and ducked in towards it, a beautiful turn she made and a burst of speed towards home, around the ring and in towards the barrel again and a burst towards home. She was my little spitfire. I wouldn’t trade the time we had together for anything in the world. A team until the end perhaps is not the wording to use for she will be forever a part of who I am and who I become, not only as a horse rider but in the person I become.

Willow was an amazing horse who can never be replaced.

Thank you for the support through this terribly difficult time. I know that I have a lot of friends who love and care for me and I am very grateful. A special thanks to my family and to my Brumbie buddies, I don’t know where I would be without you. 

"Somewhere in time's own space

there must be some sweet pastured place

where creeks sing on and tall trees grow,

some paradise where horses go.

For by the love that guides my pen, I

know great horses live again."

-Stanley Harrison