*edit* (I wrote this a couple of days ago, and have just now decided to post it. I didn't know if I would or not, but here it is.)
You all will have to excuse me for already breaking my blogging streak (of an entire 2 days.) I lost my wonderful friend and companion of 18 years, my horse Yogi. If you’re a horse person, or even an animal person you’ll know how devastated I am. I got him August of 1993 when I was 11 and he was 12. He was 5 months older than me. He passed away January 2, 2011 at the grand old age of 29. I competed with him until he was 25 and finally retired him from competition for the second time (the first time was at 20 which didn’t stick and he was brought out of retirement at 22 to run for another three years. I lost another horse I had raised that year and he came out of retirement to finish out the competition year and get me over the loss of that horse.)
This horse was my best friend for years. He was such a talented horse and the comment was made about him if you’ve seen him run one time you’ve seen him run a hundred. He was so consistent and dependable. I knew I could send him into the arena at any speed and know that he was going to take care of it. Not to say he didn’t have his moments, but overall he is probably the most honest horse I have ever ridden. Because of him I got to do so many things I wouldn’t have gotten to do otherwise. We showed in the Golden Triangle Horse Show Association winning multiple championships in barrels, poles, quadrangles, and arena race. We showed in 4-H, local rodeos, junior high school rodeo, central 4-d barrel racing association, and other local associations such as the North Mississippi Barrel Racing Association. We also showed in the National Barrel Horse Association Mississippi 02 district and qualified multiple times for the Open and Youth Worlds and competed at the 1999 Youth World Show in Jackson, MS running three clean runs and missing the finals by only a few places. We were multiple award winners and won the Open 4-d Championship in 2005 winning a saddle and dominating the division that year. With that final championship I decided it was time to retire him for good.
I got to show in Mississippi, Alabama, and Oklahoma with him and I’ve got to say we were competitive and he made me look a hell of a lot better than I was. He made me better. There was no sloppy riding on Yogi. You either rode like hell or you didn’t, there was no middle ground, no low gear with him. It was wide open all the time.
As he got older and had a couple of health issues like arthritis and fused joints in his back hocks he lost a lot of that raw power and became a very technical horse. He figured out the best way to turn a barrel for him. He figured out how to make his runs work for him. He was a horse that thrived on competition. He loved the sound of a loud crowd, blaring music, and my parents yelling at us from the fence. This was a horse that loved to run, loved to be first, and most importantly be in the spotlight.
One quick story, at the 1994 Mississippi Open State Horse Show, my first State Show on Yogi, we had a great night. We were 5th in quads and 4th in Arena Race. It was my first time to ever place at the State Horse Show and I picked up my last trophy at 3:00 a.m. We raced over to the official photographer to have our picture taken and we were in luck. She said that we were her last photo of the night. This was a horse that had competed in 4 events that day starting at probably 10:00 a.m. or so. He was tired, I was tired, my mom and dad were exhausted. We stepped in front of the background, mom and dad placed the trophies on the ground in front of us, and the photographer stepped behind the camera and held up her hand to get our attention. Yogi squared up his feet, lifted his head, pricked his ears, and positively posed for the camera. It’s still one of my favorite photos.
I could go on and on. I could talk about him falling in the trailer on the way to the State 4-H horse show and still going on the next day to place in the poles. How at 16 we went to the Central 4-d national finals in Shawnee, Oklahoma and made the finals helping me to win my only national championship at that association’s first national finals show. How he ran at Ed Edens July 4th Rodeo in the rain and slop with me at 13 years old and missed placing by one place against some of the toughest professional cowgirls in our area. How at the NBHA state finals one year he lunged into the arena, snatching my reins away from me and running the pattern by himself until I finally found my reins at the third barrel. (He placed and won a check with that run by the way.) Or how at 25 in his last race he won the 4-d and completed his career a champion.
Oh he’s not Bozo or Scamper, or even a State Champion, but to me he is and always will be so much more than that. When Jan Robertson sold him to me it was like winning the lottery, or even better. I was 11 and I had watched him at horse shows and could only dream of having a horse like that. I was moving out of the pony classes and my parents were looking for me another horse but I never expected to have something like him. I had spent 4 years training my pony, I knew nothing about barrel racing when I got her and neither did she. We learned together. Dad didn’t want to see me spend another 4 years training another horse. He felt that I had paid my dues and he wanted me to have a nice horse. We got it alright, in spades. There were times he was a challenge. The first 30 days I had him I would have taken him back, but stubbornness won out and I kept him. Thank the Lord I did.
There are those that will read this and think, “It’s just a horse what’s the big deal?” But to those of you who have had that great horse in your life, you know how I feel. It’s hard to explain and I’m not even going to try. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading this, I know it’s rambling but it’s what I feel.
To my Mom and Dad thank you so much for buying Yogi. I hope you had as much fun with him as I did. You’ll never know what it meant to me and you’ll never know how much I thank you for letting him spend his life with us.
To Mrs. Jan, thank you for Yogi. I know you loved him so much and it was hard to sell him but thank you, thank you, thank you. He was very much loved and spoiled.
To Nannette and Randy Parkinson, thank you for taking me on. I know you didn’t know what you had let yourself in for that first day, I know I’ll never forget it. :) Yall have taught me so much.
To all my facebook friends, thank you all so much for your kind words. I was a totally stunned and shattered mess that afternoon and what you all said meant so much.
To all of you, thank you for reading this and bearing with me. We’ll get back to fun stuff and sewing and photography soon.