There have been red, tingling blisters covering my hand from a rope burn because he wanted to be a rebel. I have felt heavy legs from staying on his back after fighting a bucking fit. And I cannot forget the time he ran away—I can count the moments on my ten fingers. Once he ran only a mile into the hay field in front of his pasture when the water was done dripping off his skin and was soon replaced with brown splashes. This was after he had been scrubbed by my anxious hands at least three times; no one warned me about the hassles of having a white horse as my companion. There was also the occurrence of him taking off in the dark after a sweaty summer horse show. I felt as if my heart had jumped onto his back, running too fast so his white body was clashing with the black sky. But Patchez stopped his dance of terror. The stars were his savior that night and I am so thankful for their eyes.
Patchez was a surprise. He was already standing when I came back from school. But he was not supposed to be there. When I left eight hours earlier I only had one horse and now I had two. This was pretty confusing for a fourteen-year-old. The people who sold me Rosie told me a baby could be born in a month; the month came and there was no baby. I was not surprised until seven months later when I saw a white horse with brownish, redish spots. Happy is not a strong enough word to describe how I felt that day. Words were not needed. I stayed outside until dark because I was getting to know my new friend. And the next day my best friend came over to meet Patchez. She brought a card she made for him. He was beautiful then and he is beautiful now. I will never have a surprise party that beats Patchez’s birth.
It is weird to think about getting rid of something so big in my life. If I had to get rid of Patchez today then functioning would be surreal. I think I would forget how to breathe first. The daily life of going outside to feed him his hay is a sixth sense. My legs would be the next to go. They would cuddle into each other looking for comfort that would not be found. My stomach would be going simultaneously. My words would be turning into emotions that would turn into sad sickness. My fingers would desire my feet when there was nothing else touching my heart anymore. It would be a secluded world without wanting to feel anything anymore. I would rather be lonely in a place where I could hear warm nostrils overreaching my small shoulders.
Perfection was the realization that he does not necessarily need me in his life. He could have chosen any human to be his and he chose me. We are a collision of wanting to share the passion between our two companioned souls. And I love your nose kisses.
But I do not care about all those inflexible moments. It all comes down to how much I care about Patchez. He has been my constant friend for ten years. He has looked forward to feeling my presence with every new day, and he has always loved me no matter the result of his ride that day. “I am not going to do what you want even if I know what you want” is how I feel after a ride when he goes right when I ask for left. I have changed his name to Sass on these days. There are perfect rides where he responds to my body movement. We do not have to talk much on these days. Patchez’s ears are open—they are listening to the sound of the birds and the noises that I cannot hear. There is a prance in his step. He has always been one to be filled with spirit. And I relax. I am reminded that it is okay to just breathe sometimes.
I have learned that I am capable of learning new tasks and applying those to him. Patchez is more intelligent than I give him credit for. He is an expert at pushing my buttons as well. But you know what is cool? When my horse can keep his right foot planted as he turns in a tight circle because we have worked on it together. He understands what I am saying: walk, trot, lope, back, and whoa. There was an incident when he spooked and took off in unexpected bolt of three feet, only three feet because he listened to that shaken whoa. Another foot would have put us into a single, thin wire. I had never been more proud and relieved all at once. It is these moments that make me realize how much Patchez listens to me. It is not the way he holds his ears, but the soft, mist of his eyes. I feel the kindness every time he looks at me.
There is one word he does not enjoy hearing—“no.” Patchez stop eating your rope, brush, halter, and etc. If he can put it in his mouth then I only have one guess on where the item will end up. Patchez will start licking my back when I am not focused on him. It is as if he is saying I am here and I love you. He is that oversized dog that I should not bring in the house, but it does not stop him from licking my hand with his tongue with pleasure plastered on his face. I wish I could be as happy as he.
I like to sit on his back without saddle or direction as we watch the clouds dance and bugs sing. Sometimes I like to go outside just a half hour before the sunset to see it framed between Patchez’s ears. It is not a moment I need to capture on camera because the photo sets perfectly on the walls inside my brain. Have you ever seen a horse get so happy at the sight of four inches of grass? Patchez could live in that moment forever. I am a happy kid when I get sour patch candy and he is an ecstatic child with five snow days in a row at the sight of the green dessert. He is simple in his manners; he enjoys treats of apples, carrots, bread, and bananas. Have you ever seen a horse eat a banana? He loves them as much as monkeys (probably more). It only takes five seconds for his teeth to mush it down his throat and come back begging for more. I love him more than fresh baked blueberry muffins and I am addicted to those.
Occasionally I wonder what others will think when I tell them one of my best friends is a horse. But I forget to care. I know he cannot talk back or tell me what I should do with my life. I know he cannot tell me everything is going to be all right. He doesn’t need to talk. Patchez shows it when he neighs after I ask if he is ready to explore the snow covered grass today. He loves to see what the world will bring; if I am coming out to visit him in the far field then I can always trust him to meet me halfway. People like to look into their lover’s eyes for comfort and I do the same thing, but Patchez’s eyes are full of: wonder, thoughts, and love that cannot be replaced by my boyfriend. My best friend’s eyes are like a new bedtime story. I am too intrigued by the words to fall asleep. When he is outside he runs with grace along the fence as he kicks up his heels that kiss the air. There is something powerful in watching him run fast enough while throwing all four hooves in the infinite.
My time with Patchez will not be forever because horses do not live forever. I know this. I will be able to hold onto the memories from kissing my back to sitting in the grass together. He loves me and I love him. But when he is my soul and my other half there is no way that I will have to say bye. The thought isn’t worth all the puppies in the world. And do not tell me he is just a horse. I mean you are simply a human.
Originally Published in the January/February 2016 Issue.