I remember the first time I saw him. He was skin and bones. He had patches of fur missing. His body was scarred from who knows what. His back swayed with age and the grey on his face told me that he had been alive for many years.
I rode into the arena on my grey Arabian Mare, and to my surprise, this beast called to my horse and me. This animal looked as if it should have been dead long ago. If not dead, then very close. However, this horse screamed with cheery gusto.
I went around the arena again and again. Every time I passed the pen he was turned out in he went to play with my partner and me. I got a closer look at the animal. He was a red bay with a blaze on his face. His fur was ragged, and his body worn out. To me, he was the most beautiful horse because he held a bright spark in his eye. I asked one of the barn staff if this horse had belonged to the barn manager who rescued horses often. I knew her personally and cheered her on for her noble actions. It had turned out he belonged to this woman and I was able to gain permission to spend time with the horse that took to me so well. I remember grooming him and turning him out. An unbreakable bond formed. I asked the owner if I could take him to my family’s small farm. There, he could spend time with my horse, graze, and be loved on.
Fostering this gelding was one of the best decisions I had ever made. I saw his bodily conditions improve and his temper soar. I fundraised for him so he could be rehabilitated and spoiled in his senior years. This horse, though starved and likely beaten, kept going. He inspired me every day to get through complicated situations. This animal had every right to hate people, and yet he was extremely loving. It inspired me to care for even the most difficult people. The owner eventually asked me if I would like to adopt the little red horse and I accepted. My family and I were enamored with our new family member Shortly thereafter he was named Percy, short for Perseverance. His winning attitude awarded him such a name.
Alas, beautiful Percy did not get to make a full recovery. He had come so far and was at peace in his last months. I could see the white hairs of age spreading. I joked that if he became any whiter he would become a shining white Pegasus and fly away. In my heart, this was used to cope with the knowledge that my old friend's body might fail him any day.
I remember getting the devastating call that Percy had stumbled in the field and was not able to get up. I walked out of class with tears pooling in my eyes and raced home to say goodbye. The vet was already at the scene and had given him a sedative to calm his rapid heartbeat. The young woman told me softly that it would be best to let him go so he would not suffer. I buried my face in his mane, choking back sobs. The horse had taught me how to love deeper and how to persevere when disaster rears its ugly head. It felt impossible to say goodbye, but I knew Percy was about to gain his wings. I hoped he would go on to a greener pasture where he could frolic as a colt again. I gave him a final kiss on the neck, and Percy crossed the rainbow bridge.
The grief after losing my old friend was devastating, but I got through it. That was what the little horse had taught me to do. Percy lived to be almost 30 years old and enjoyed his last months. I will always hold close the horse that taught me to be better.