His love affair with horses began early—when he was a mere toddler. It started with his still-staunch supporter, the inimitable Dream Horse, a blue, sparkly stuffed confection of equine sass who has been Edgar’s constant companion for years.
When he learned at age three that people ride horses and the potential for his riding one day actually existed, he began his ardent campaign. And as anyone with experience with three-year-olds knows, they can be equally stubborn and convincing.
On the eve of (well, two months prior to) his fourth birthday, my twenty-something-pound son and I walked into Ponies as Partners and met the owner Sabina. She took one look at his tiny self and asked how old he was. To know Sabina is to know this is a woman who doesn’t suffer fools or put up with much nonsense. She asked, “How old is he?”
“Almost four?” I replied with a question mark, hoping my answer was enough to get him in the ring.
Perhaps it was his disarming blue eyes or her incredibly kind heart and spot-on instincts, but she said, “Okay, let’s try it.”
Indy came out, a pony of dignity and gentleness, and he and Edgar were best friends from first sight. Indy understood Edgar was small and, later, when Edgar was diagnosed with epilepsy, seemed to understand his vulnerabilities. It was only after Edgar’s one-year seizure-free anniversary that Indy showed Edgar just how silly horses can be, providing him with a little crow-hop, leaving Edgar to prove that, after many, many rides, he understood what to do and what not to do in such situations. After Indy stopped and my maternal blood pressure returned to normal, Edgar leaned over and kissed Indy on the head and said, “That was awesome.” Indy seemed to know Edgar could handle this, and I realized then the depths to which they understood one another.
Edgar has always been small, his muscle tone and balance compromised. His gait is often unsteady, his inability to control his body obvious. But when he is on a horse, something changes. Nothing short of alchemy, he sits tall and strong in the saddle and can maintain his balance in ways he cannot do outside the ring. I watch him and know he belongs.
Indy died this week—after a dignified life, his end was equally so; but the loss for Edgar is palpable. Indy’s photo resides in Edgar’s room, and fresh tears flow whenever Indy’s name comes up. What this horse meant to our family is almost indescribable, what he did for my son profound. He gave Edgar confidence and an opportunity to showcase the strength that resides behind the instability that plagues him. Indy showed me what Edgar can do, his true potential. And because he showed me what Edgar is capable of inside the ring, he armed me with the conviction and passion I need to fight for my son, to get him what he needs so that the skill, grace, and strength I know he possesses can be actualized outside the ring.
An incomparable horse who not only understood the needs of his young rider, but his mother as well, Indy’s was a life that made a difference, perhaps the difference, in ours. Thank you seems inadequate, but it’s all I have.
It has been said that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Thank you, Indy, for appearing, for showing me my son, and for teaching me what I needed to know.