When I was twelve years old something wonderful happened. My father read my heart and bought me a horse. I had no idea he was buying me a horse.
I remember coming home very tired and dreading the chore of stacking wood for the winter. For three days in a row my father had brought home several cords of wood for me to stack. I felt like rebelling- no other kids I knew worked as hard as me. (When you are twelve, you always think no one has it as hard as you do.) And here he came with a horse trailer behind his truck. I was sure it was loaded with more wood.
He came into the house and gave the order to come help him unload the trailer. It passed through my mind to wonder where he had gotten a horse trailer, but then I just assumed he had borrowed it to be able to load even more wood than the truck would take. I drug myself outside and rounded the back of the trailer.
A tail was hanging over the back half-door of the trailer and it gave a swish as I walked into view. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Rebellion and tiredness vanished in a split second. In a heart beat I was turning and running to my Dad to throw my arms around his neck and blubber tears and thanks all at the same time. It was the happiest moment in my life to that day.
Tiko was a beautiful Welsh/Morgan pony. We had no idea at that time how old he was (later we learned that he was already about 23 years old). He was 13.1 hands high, and full of spirit. I was in LOVE!
My family has more “Tiko Stories” to tell than any others we share. There are stories of the tricks he would play on all of us; stories of how kindness turned him into a gentle partner from a pony that other people thought we should destroy; stories about how he helped rescue my mother and little sister when they were badly hurt and laying in the road and I had to ride for help; stories of his intelligence, and speed, and agility; stories of how he earned his name Super Pony. In the near future I will be trying to write some of these down to share.
Right now, I can’t pick one memory as a favorite. His presence filled my childhood from the day he came into my life, and he was there as a friend until I married and moved away. He gave me and my little sister so much knowledge, and built our courage and our confidence. I do not know who we would be today if we had not had Tiko. Tiko opened the door for my father to find a passion for horses that has carried on to this day, keeping him young and happy. When my family had no other way to communicate with one another, we had our horses, and Tiko was the first to give us that bond.
Not half and hour ago I got the news that my friend has died. He was 49 years old. He had gone blind and deaf in the last few years, but he was never sick or in pain. He had a companion horse that loved him and stayed with him as his eyes. He knew his corral and barn so well that he ran around and acted just as spry as a horse half his age. He got lots of treats and attention, and he helped a third generation learn how to ride. He loved his kids. None of us are surprised that he has passed away at this age, but we are all in pain over the loss.
It is some sort of comfort to know that he never suffered. He got up in the morning and ate his feed of warm mash like he always did. He played affectionately with my Dad, and in the afternoon he was running around his pen enjoying the sun. That evening he simply lay down and went to sleep. My father found him when he went to give him his evening feed, no sign of a struggle or pain.
The horse that had been his companion for years, Cassie, she was my mother’s horse and a beloved family member too. She had been lame for quite a while, retired from being able to be ridden. My parents struggled with the decision of putting her down because of an arthritic hip, but they kept her out of pain with Bute for as long as they could. Recently they had begun to suspect that the Bute was not enough and that she was suffering. My father made the very hard decision to put Cassie down and bury her with Tiko in the same grave. Companions in life they are still together now.
I don’t have words to describe how much Tiko meant to me, or how much I hurt right now. Tiko and Cassie will be missed in ways I can’t even imagine right now.
Jehovah, if you ever want to make another horse like Tiko, you know I will be there to love him.