Tristan and Moe are both gone now, Tristan dying just about a week ago, Moe, months earlier.
Moe was a sturdy little mutt of a pony; Tristan, a tall, elegant thoroughbred who quaked like an aspen leaf when the tree frogs came out in force every spring.
Our youngest daughter owned Moe and when she graduated to another games pony, sold him to buy her first car. He lived out his days with a wonderful, caring trail rider in South Carolina (although how she coped with his refusal to step into shadows on the ground, I’ve never heard).
Tristan (One Tin Soldier on his registration papers) was a loaner, the best ever. His owner went away to college, and our daughter was lucky enough to use him for her last several years of US Pony Club. He was a gentleman and a scholar. Never once in the time he lived with us did we see him go after a human or a horse.
When he didn’t want to get on the trailer (and that was often), he never struck out or tried to bite. He just turned around and left, one of the few times he ever used his strength against a lead rope.
As you can see from his close-up, his forelock was straggly and his mane never amounted to much either. One time he hitched a ride with another Pony-Clubber’s mount on the way home from a regional rally, and that pony ate Tristan’s tail. We were not aware of any complaining; certainly, the other Pony Club mom felt no kicking or rearing from her trailer.
When you live with animals, you assume you’ll grieve their deaths someday. I’ve heard people say they won’t have pets for just that reason. I think you miss a grand slice of life if you never communicate with other species, never risk sharing your heart, even knowing that it’s temporary (and everything is temporary, is it not?).
I would have missed knowing how my Matt sped up as soon as we got into a woods, any woods. He obviously fancied himself a “Last of the Mohicans” mount. Not to mention how he enjoyed plowing into other horses at his one and only Polocrosse rally.
I’d have missed smelling their hay-scented breath and touching their noses that feel like fresh red raspberries. And all the great people we met in pony club. And galloping across a field.
Our daughter loved every horse she rode, but Mo and Tristan were special, Mo for what he wouldn’t do and Tristan for what he would. When Mo didn’t want to do something or was tired of it, he just stopped. Like a mule. Tristan never quit which was both his charm and his sometime curse.
One time our daughter’s rally coach told her to “just let him go” up the cross-country course at FENCE in Tryon, NC. Go, he did. So fast she had to walk him down that hill in order not to incur a speeding penalty.
Another time she was cross-country training at a fancy-pants farm in eastern NC. She said they walked onto the challenging course and she was scared (which she very rarely was). But, she said, she could feel Tristan say, though the reins, through his body as he perked his big ears and surveyed the landscape, “I got this, kid.” And, indeed, he did — he loved his job and did it well.
Rest in peace, boys, but not too much. I like to think of you kicking up your heels together in the fields of Elysium (lush, clover-y fields that make you drool like bloodhounds), along with Belle, Gem, Matt, Gage, Panda, Rose, Oreo, Mist, Ben, Martha, Puck and Lilac, all the beloveds who’ve crossed that Rainbow Bridge ahead of us. We’ll see you there.