A friend never to be forgotten…
I met Basix as a sixteen-year-old girl. If you’ve read my journey, you know I’d been through three lessons, and my fourth was on this horse, also his first-ever lesson. He was scraggly and scrawny, ribby, and out of condition when I first saw him standing in the stall at the age of four. He’d been brought in by my trainer as an option for me, along with a push-button twelve-year-old mare. He knew about as much as I did, which was relatively nothing.
Within a few weeks, we were riding together. Within a few months, we were inseparable. I spent every afternoon at the barn after school and nearly all day on the weekends. We did everything we were told, everything we probably shouldn’t, and not a day passed that we weren’t together. He knew my secrets, my dreams, my hopes. He nuzzled away my tears when life didn’t go the way I thought it would. In return, I had boundless love to give, and sometimes, when he was worn out from heavy showing, he’d lie down in his stall, content to sleep with his head in my lap. If I could have made him a house pet, I would have, and I’d have let him sleep beside my bed.
Officially, we showed in Huntseat, Costume, and Dressage, and I have a pile of ribbons he accumulated throughout the years. Unofficially, we jumped, we rode trails, we swam in creeks, and we chased deer and calves. We shared meals: I ate the hot dog, he ate the bun–he loved mustard. He loved baby horses and often turned into the babysitter; on more than one occasion we had to later wean a foal off him.
Basix went with me everywhere–to college, across barns, across states, and eventually to the home in the country where he spent the last several years of his life, and our trail rides turned into miles-long jogs to visit the neighbors. He indulged my children, and on occasion, a novice rider or two. Really though, he hated being ridden by other people, and only cooperated because he knew he should. He absolutely refused, however, to ever let a man on his back, which made it quick and easy to avoid occasional requests from boyfriends to ride. I never really wanted to share him with anyone. Ironically, as much time as we spent together, I have one photograph of him, and how I wish I’d thought ahead, to save the memories, to stop, for an instant, and create something tangible. But then, I never really considered I’d ever be without him.
In 2012, I lost Basix, quite unexpectedly, as a result of a choke complication. I’d always said that had it been him who underwent colic surgery, not Zakk, I would have stayed with him in the veterinary hospital and they would have had to drag me out of there. It’s probably a good thing the vet and I didn’t realize how extensive the complication was–I would have thrown every last dime I had, mortgaged my house, whatever it took to save his life. For when he went, he took my heart with him, and nothing has ever been the same. Losing him nearly took me out of horses forever.
It’s been five years, and I’m returning to the world he introduced me to. I’m excited, and yet, there’s not a day that passes where I don’t think of him. Where I don’t look out the window and squint to see if he’s in the yard, only to realize no, he won’t be. He’s under the tree where I still have to plant flowers. Where someday, I too, will be buried. I still cry, and my heart still hurts. I still make holiday decorations for him. And each time I take down his bridle to fit it on another horse, a part of me screams in protest. He’s still with me. I suspect he always will be. I can only hope that as I move forward he’ll whisper in the horses’ ears. “She’s not so bad. Give her a chance. Take care of her until I can again.”