This is not a very good photo - it's blurry, and the horses are off in the distance. But it shows our little herd back in the old days before we moved barns and before ... well, let me tell you who they are.
On the left is Kelsey. We bought her for our then 8-year old eldest daughter, and she remained with our family until said daughter was 23. She died late last year - at age 26, old enough to say she died "of old age," but there was something else wrong with her that the vet couldn't figure out. We added calories, had her teeth floated, had tests done - but she went downhill pretty quickly. I think she was a Hempfling "North Wind." She was a trooper, and although she had her own opinions and was never a "quiet" horse, she would stand like a rock at liberty in the field and let you scramble onto her back.
Second from the left is Miscato. He was given to us as an 8-year old ex-racehorse in 2000. He was a little on the anxious side at times, but gentle and sweet and kind. He loved people and would always stay with you as long as you were in the field, following you to the gate and looking after you as you walked away. He died last spring of osteosarcoma. With hindsight, we think he must have been sick for quite a while. He had lacked energy for a long time, and I'm very glad I never succumbed to the advice to "use a stick" on him.
Third from the left is Misty, queen of the herd, an Arab/QH mare - we adopted her when she was 22. She died last year at age 35, very thin but cheerful to the end. When she first came to live with us, she was stiff and arthritic. I had just started learning about dressage, and Misty became my partner. We would go and work at a walk in the neighbor's arena. After about ten minutes, Misty would walk to the center and say, "I'm done." And I always let her quit. As time went by, with joint supplements and exercise, she would work for longer and longer periods of time before asking to quit, until eventually she would go for as much as an hour. At the end of her life, she was too thin and I had grown too heavy for me to ride her. The last time I rode her was a year or so before she died - we walked down the trail for about half a mile, and then she stopped and said, "I'm done with you." I swapped horses with my much lighter daughter, and she continued happily for the rest of the ride.
These three were a tight-knit little group. They all passed away before the strange new Spilker regime hit our household. Each one of them was a good teacher, and I'd love to know what more they could have taught if I had known how to listen better.
Then on the far right, we see Chloe, looking at the human taking the photo. She is the one who has survived into the new era. As she looks at the camera, I can see that she was, even then, curious about us - willing to listen and be heard. I am very grateful to have that second chance with her.