Around the Bluhmin’ Town
She was the best horse I never rode. A palomino pony with a thick white mane who could run like the wind, get into all kinds of mischief, sometimes act naughty, yet still be a safe and sound ride for kids. She was a Navajo pony living on The Rez, roaming wild in a herd and somehow ended up in a small dirt pen, without shade or much else. She was trained to carry children around at birthday parties but was underutilized and just “an afterthought” on a large horse ranch.
After one of our mares had died, we inquired with a local rescue and came across Buttercup. My husband, Doug, went to see her first. She stood alone, looking dejected and turned her back to him when he approached. He called me to say, “she needs us” and without further thought, Miss Buttercup was loaded into a trailer and headed to her new life. That was fifteen years ago.
Buttercup had probably never seen a barn, open yet secure pasture, and the attention fit for a princess. She got off the trailer trotting, quickly getting the other three horses worked up as she raced around in circles. She was feisty, as beautiful as a unicorn (as the grand girls like to say) and although very small, showed the big horses how to run.
We had an old dog named Bo, who had a special affection for Buttercup. In the summer, when apples fell off the tree in our yard, Bo would pick one up and race down to the pasture and place one in front of Buttercup as a gift. The other horses were a bit jealous. When Bo passed, it was hard on Buttercup. She would pace the pasture and stare up towards the house, nickering for her friend.
Buttercup was an easy ride for the kids. We got her a pony saddle with a pink halter and reins to complete the ensemble. She carried many girls around, from age nine months to ten years old, stepping very gently with her precious cargo. She allowed the kids to braid her mane, even put a unicorn horn on her head like a party hat. The only thing missing was her wings.
Buttercup liked to play. She would splish-splash her front hooves in the horse water tanks like doing patty-cake, while the other horses would stop and stare. She loved people and other animals. One day a rooster, who we eventually called Roy, showed up in the barn. He liked to sleep with Buttercup in her stall. So, Roy, a few feral cats, her horse buddies, and a cattle dog all became best friends.
I know that she was just a horse. There are more important losses, like when parents, spouses or children pass. But grief happens because we shared love. And I loved her. The holidays seems to punctuate those who are missing from our lives.
Buttercup left her earthly bounds on a crisp autumn day, surrounded by those who loved her and a Vet who did as much as he could. She Is running free again. She got her wings.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Contact Judy at [email protected] or visit www.aroundthebluhmintown.com.