People say you’ll always remember your first love. Perhaps it was the little boy in the sandbox with freckles? Or the pig-tail girl with a big ice cream stain on her shirt? My first love was was big, hairy, and had a major gas problem. No, he was not Larry the Cable Guy! Although, if he was human, he would probably be very similar to Larry the Cable Guy.
I started riding horses when I was 7 years old because my best friend at the time started riding so naturally I wanted to too. When I was 9 one of my friends was looking to buy a horse. My Uncle told us about Duke and we went to go look at him for my friend. I got to ride him too and my mom had videotaped us riding him. My friend’s mom decided Duke wasn’t the right horse for her.
I rode in the Cumberland Fair about a month after we went to look at Duke. After the show when we were back at the barn, my parents kept looking around at the horse trailer and my father’s truck. I asked them what they were doing and they both kind of looked at each other and were like “should we tell her?” My Mom said “we bought you a horse!” My reply was “No, you didn’t. Don’t lie to me.” I didn’t believe them at first because we had never talked about buying a horse for me. Well, they surprised me with Duke! It was the best $900 my parents ever spent on me.
Duke came right out of a pasture in Caanan, Maine. He was a great horse. He had his issues though. He was literally scared of his own shadow. At the old barn I use to keep him at my father built him his own stall complete with fancy rubber mats. Well, the first time he ever went into his stall, he saw his shadow and ran back out into the pasture! He also had an issue with his canter leads. A horse’s canter is a three-beat gait. When a horse goes in a circle he will lead with his inside front leg. Some horses can only lead with the same leg, kind of like being right or left handed. However, horses need to be able to lead with either leg or else their balance will be off (and they can fall over. I was riding a pony one day when that happened). Duke had a problem picking up his left lead. Eventually we fixed his problem. Ask any who has met Duke and they will probably remember his gas problem. Duke could fart. I mean he could fart for 5 minutes continuously! He had talent that’s for sure! It never smelled, but it was just one of those very loud, almost musical farts.
We had Duke for close to 10 years. We sold him to a young girl in 4-H in 2004. I’m not 100% what ever really happened to him after that, but I’m positive that he’s now frolicking in the fields of Heaven now. When I first started dating my last boyfriend we played 20 questions one night. He asked me who my first love was and my answer was Duke. He told me that doesn’t count. Of course he does! That horse was the love of my life. I have yet to meet a man that matches that love (although I am taking applications). Duke taught me about unconditional love. I loved that horse and he loved me. We were partners. He trusted me with his life and I trusted him with mine. We had our disagreements, but no matter what the outcome was, we still loved each other. I personally believe that trust is the most important part of a relationship, whether it’s with a horse or a human. Without trust there is no foundation to build upon.
So in honor of my first love, here are some pictures of my past life! And for the record, I will not date any man who doesn’t love (or at least tolerate) horses because I plan on having at least one in the future. Horses are my blood. There is nothing better than being on top of a 1000 pound horse flying over fences!