Thursday, June 15, 2017

Miramar Remembered

I think every horse owner has had that one special horse in their life. The one they will always remember either because it was an outstandingly good horse, or maybe bad horse, or as in the case of Miramar, both.

Miramar in her Younger days
Miramar was 35 years old when she died Thursday, May 28, 2009. She was a registered half-Arabian, although the folks I bought her from said she was really a purebred. She didn’t live with me in her final years. Friends were keeping her on their farm in my hometown. I retired from running a lesson barn because I got just too old to be lifting hay and unloading bags of feed, and the cost of keeping horses had become more than I could make teaching lessons. I was very blessed that my friends wanted Mira. See, Tara had taken lessons on Mira as a little girl. She, like many others of my students, loved Mira. She said yes when I asked if she wanted her, and I realize they did that for me as much as any personal reason. They knew how important it was for me to know Mira would be loved and cared for the way I wished I could do myself. I rested easy knowing Tara and Wyatt would do that for me. What a blessing to have such good friends.

Tara, and her husband Wyatt, drove all the way to my house – about a two-hour drive – to tell me in person that Mira had crossed over the rainbow bridge. “We just didn’t think it was the kind of news to give you over the phone,” Wyatt said.

They told me the vet suspected Mira died of a heart attack. I could see over the winter Mira had failed quite a bit. Winters have taken a toll on her for the past several years, but when spring rolled around she would seem to bounce back. But she always was just a little older looking and acting than the previous year. I’d been thinking about whether or not the time had come to talk about putting her down. I am glad nature took over where we did not want to go.

Tara and Wyatt spent the night and left Friday morning. That is when I gave myself permission to take the day off to grieve for my old friend and business partner. I pulled out the scrapbooks and photographs. My youngest daughter called after reading my email. We talked about how many kids and grownups have been taught to ride by Mira —hundreds I suppose. We also laughed a little as we remembered some of Mira’s antics. She was a good broodmare and a wonderful lesson horse. She could have been a great show horse, but nine times out of ten she’d find a way to make us look like idiots at the horse show.

One time I especially remember was at the NC State 4-H Championships. We were talking off her halter to put on her bridle when she slung her hear in that way only an Arabian can do, pushed past us and through the open stall door. She didn’t stop running until she reached the in-gate of the main area. Terrified 4-Hers who were inside showing had to stop their horses. Dr. Bob Mowery borrowed a halter and handed it to me. Yes, I’d followed Mira across the grounds

to the area without thinking to grab the halter first. No one was hurt, unless you count my feelings of embarrassment. I am pretty sure I heard Mira laugh at us when we got back to the barn and put her in her stall.

She was not a good trail riding horse. She did not like stuff touching her! So, woodsy trails through weeds and vines irritated her. Even riding through a field of tall grass that tickled her belly sent her into crow-hopping and sometimes bucking. We could ride down a road without too much ado, unless we passed by cows. Then it was “Nelly, hold onto your hat!” Mira would spin around, leave you hanging in the air, and run toward the barn before you could even think about gathering leather and reining her in.

Yes, we remember two Miramars. The gentle, sweet old gray mare who tolerated little kids bouncing on her back until they learned to post, and bumping her mouth with the bit until they learned to ride with a fluid hand. Those people knew Mira during her golden years.

But, others, who knew the Queen of the Barn in her younger days, remember a horse full of “presence and attitude.” She was the mare who when she trotted looked like a helium balloon dancing in air. She was the horse that beat the local favorite quarter horse stallion in a halter class at the Albemarle Circuit Horse Show in Windsor, NC many years ago and the same mare who ran away at the 4-H show I described above.

Mira let me cry into her neck many nights when I slipped out to the barn for the solace I knew I could find there. She kept all my secrets. I think we had an understanding by the last leg of her life. We knew we’d weathered some storms together. She talked to me. Even bystanders could see her tell me where I could go with that horse wormer, and that the only reason I successfully got the dose in her mouth was because she decided to let me. And when it was time for a lesson to be over, it was over sister. OVER!

I still miss the old girl. Miramar, you were The Queen of the Barn.

Miramar is one of the main characters in my children's book Puddin' Tain Comes to Twin Pines Stables

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