He’s eighteen now. A big, solidly built, bright chestnut gelding with a white diamond and sleepy eyes. In his prime he was a Master’s Horse, spending hours in the field galloping, then he somehow came to live with my trainer, where he garnered the name Cooper and gained a cult following of young riders in the lesson program. I was not one of those riders.

In fact I distinctly remember asking to not ride him. He was lazy, and hard to work on the flat. Yet years later, there is literally no other horse I would be standing at the mounting block with. My trainer at his head, laughing at my outfit, a pair of black dress maternity pants, a coat that won’t zip up, and my black work flats. I grab a handful of his coarse red mane, and with an exaggerated hop, I make it onto his broad back. Grabbing my reins, I lean forward to give him a pat and with a prompt kick we are off.

I’m seven months pregnant, a second time mom and I’ve given up on productive riding at this point. But when Cooper had some time off, I couldn’t resist another quick walk on him, even in my work clothes. He still messes with me, ignoring my desire to walk over some poles, and most happy to poke his nose out and walk around on the buckle while we watch the lessons going on. He’s the one I turned to when I needed something that was beyond safe. The same one who walks my toddler around (ignoring her insistent clucking), and stands like a statue when my ungainly self has to climb on and off of his 16 hands.

Not only has he provided the safety of his body and brain during my time on him, but he has lent me the confidence to continue doing my favorite thing for as long as I can. You can never control everything, and horses will always be horses, but there is a trust built in certain special horses (and sleepy brown eyes). And I know that wherever our paths lead, that this horse will always have a huge part of my heart. The one who I trusted the most, when trust was most precious.  Thank you Cooper, for carrying me when no one else would.

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