I said see you later and you were ready but it still broke my heart.
I still remember the first time I saw you.. though I don’t remember much about the trip. I don’t remember being told much other than we were getting a new horse. I am sure it was a trip that seemed like forever in my excitement at a mere 7 years old. I remember looking out through the back glass of that old blue pick up truck and seeing a sharp looking red colt. And he was chewing on the fence. I’d later come to know that was called cribbing and you never stopped that a day in your 25 years. I remember fighting with my sister over your name, she liked Jet and I loved that name. That was to be my future champions name after all. So I offered “Twister” since your blaze looked like one. And it stuck. Twister it was. And little did I know, I wouldn’t ever need a horse named Jet to take me to the top.
You taught me so many lessons and covered so many firsts. My first lesson on how to keep my reins short when you sprint fresh horses, how to mind where a colts teeth were and heels too. But you covered the good stuff too. How good for drying tears manes were. How much could be said between two souls without saying a word.
You would teach my Dad and I everything we needed to know about starting barrel horses. It was a long haul of 12 years getting you and I to be a finished pair. But we did it and oh did we ever do it. We started out in the little gymkhauna and western pleasure shows. We quickly figured out which you preferred but we managed that first blue ribbon at the county fair anyway! I was so proud! Then we shifted our focus to mainly speed events which you took to flawlessly. Plug was definitely your favorite but barrels weren’t far off. We got better still and started going to 4D jackpots and LBW rodeos. Winning a little money was more fun than ribbons now! We moved through that to traveling a little more to bigger 4D races and even the Youth World Championships in Mississippi. This fast became our annual family vacation! All because of you and your dedication to those little girls who fussed over you mercilessly. You took me to the heights of competition in whatever arena we tried NBHA and College Rodeo, we were always in the mix at the top. Right up to our last race together! We were second and I’ll never forget that run. I knew I might be our last but I dared not dwell on it. You never quit me.
Even all those times you tried to die on me between running through the fence, the purpura hemorrhagica and the colic surgery, you still came through. I think you knew I still needed you too much for you to leave. The ever tough, stoic boy.. a trait that made today even harder. But I know you are tired.
You have seen me through every stage of my life so far my dearest friend. Every stage of growing up, moved with me to college, and saw me find my true love.. carried my own babies on your back dutifully right up until today. 23.5 years together.
You have always been there. My oldest and at times, only friend. I don’t know how to do this next stage without you. But I’m honored that I have had the privilege to walk next to you all these years. Based on all our hairy experiences I never thought I would have to be the one to make the call! But you wouldn’t leave me on your own. I have watched you get a little slower this year, a little less bossy.. and you haven’t been able to hold your weight well despite our best efforts. And most of all I could see your pain. You tried to hide it, but I knew. All those years of being my partner in the arena have caught up with you. It’s hard for you to get up and down, harder for you to keep up with your friends. And I always said if I got lucky enough to see you into old age, I’d never let you get past the point of being able to be you. You are too proud to shuffle, too proud to be low man, too proud to be anything less than you always have been, top of the heap. So I knew this summer would be our last together.
I hope I have made you proud. My only wish is it never had to end. I wish good horses lived forever. And in a way they do, I know through all my conversations with God, He made sure my mansion up there has a very special spot just for you. I hope some day years down the road, Jesus himself will bring you to the gate to pick me up and take me home. And I hope we can go straight to rodeo. I know they have them up there! And we can hear them call our name again to run under the brightest lights, the best ground, and the loudest crowd. I can’t wait to see you again my friend. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be ok. Eventually. You are teaching me even now as I sit here alone.. teaching me the value of a life well lived. I don’t have you here physically anymore but you and I will always be kindred spirits. I’ll carry a piece of you in my heart forever..once I get it put back together. You were simply the best.
May 23 1996- September 3 2021