By Brittney Phillips
As the hands of time keep ticking, so do we. There’s not a thing in the world that we can do to stop it, slow it down or change its course. Just as our minds grow more experienced, our body’s start to show bits and pieces of where we gained that experience.
I was raised around horses, from the time I can remember we have always had a few right in our backyard. In elementary school, I was the crazy horse girl that wore her boots to school. Every. Single. Day. After much begging, pleading, and strategically harassing my parents, I finally got a horse of my very own. Believe it or not on my eighth birthday, handpicked and delivered. I remember that birthday more vividly than most anything else. I was so excited, I can remember sitting at school repeatedly checking the time, thinking this has got to be the slowest day of my entire life. Upon getting home from school, I ran down the driveway and sat right by the mailbox (as if that would make the time pass any faster) impatiently waiting for what would soon be the greatest gift I have ever received.
Black Jack doesn’t have the greatest conformation. In fact, he has and has always had a long back, short stubby legs and a neck only a mother could love… or an eight year old little girl for that matter. He has never had a mane, and as for his tail? It was all I had! I brushed and braided it more often than I’m sure Black Jack would have preferred. Somehow, it never bothered him… I was his person.
From then until now, that horse has become a part of our family. He helped in not only raising me, but also raising two more little girls after me. In addition to those full time jobs, he somehow also got roped into being the ‘community queen horse’ as well. Countless rodeos, rodeo queen pageants and barrel races later, nearly 20 years later that is, we are now being faced with one of the most difficult and seemingly easy decisions yet; Where and how does Black Jack get to retire? The thought of finding him another home feels awful, but what feels even more awful is going home to my parents’ house on the weekends to see an animal that has given his whole life to us, sit in a stall.
His joints ache, he’s much more grey than he used to be but his mind: Golden as ever. As Black Jack got older, his girls got older too. We set our sights on running faster times, cleaner horsemanship patterns and with that we gained new partners in the arena that I’m sure Black Jack was A-Okay with. Now that we have began other endeavors, it’s only fair to give some peace to the horse that has been a patient teacher, a baby sitter, a best friend and an irreplaceable part of our family. He deserves a happy retirement full of minimal expectations, open pasture and most of all he deserves someone doting over him like the knight in shining armor he is. As hard as it will be to see him leave the Phillips home, his heart of gold and old wise soul shouldn’t go to waste.
It took a lot of thinking and some arguing with myself, but I couldn’t justify holding on to this piece of my childhood. Some things come into your life to alter your course, give you perspective and redirect you to the path that is meant for you. It’s without question Black Jack was put into our lives for that reason exactly. He taught me how to ride, how to fall and he is the one that instilled in me the utmost respect for our hooved counterparts. He started me down the path to becoming the horsewoman I am, to rodeo, and for that I am forever grateful.
May the neck scratches be endless and the workload light. Here’s to greener pastures, more cookies and a happy, happy retirement, my old friend.