A letter to Brittany about her new horse

August 06, 2015. Photo by Fred Solis.

Before you take the horse, there are a few things you should know.

His name is Frosty, he’s 16 years old and likes when you scratch him under the jaw.

When I met you last week, you seemed kind enough and respectful. I even think Frosty liked you.

I didn’t talk much. I wasn’t mad at you or your parents or even your grandfather.

I was just quiet because I had a lot of different emotions going on inside me.

Lately, when I open my mouth, those feelings flow out, and I have trouble stopping them.

Perhaps you already know, or perhaps you’ll find out in a few years, but it’s possible to be happy and sad at the same time, to have your brain know you’re doing the right thing but have your heart ache for it.

I kind of just leaned against the fence and watched you all. Your dad had a good, calloused handshake, which I noted. His left hand was gentle enough to hold your shy younger brother the entire time. I noted that as well.

Your mom was kind to my mom. That’s all I wanted to see. That interaction made the drive up from the farm a lot better than the drive down to the farm.

I was a year younger than you when I first met Frosty, a colt at the time.

He comes from great bloodlines and was meant to be a show horse, but his mother stepped on him. That’s where that small scar on his back leg comes from.

A man named Dave was working on some fences where Frosty was born and saved him from being put down.

The problem was Dave didn’t have a place to keep him.

So he went driving and found an old farm with a barn in need of paint and repairs. With that old farm he found an old man who wanted nothing to do with horses. That man was my dad. Dave convinced him keep the horse there in exchange for cleaning out the barn’s stable.

Dave labored for months to clean out the three feet of horse and cow manure that built up over the decades.

I’d talk to Dave as he worked. I learned about horses, fishing, fireworks and that heroes have the habit of also being human. We ended up owning Frosty years later.

Buildings often have personality and lives of their own. Frosty woke the barn from years of slumber. Dave and my family began to start repairing the barn. We fixed the floors, the stairs and cleaned out the hayloft. My sister got married up there.

The old farmer was proud of the barn and he was proud of Frosty.

As Frosty grew older, Dave broke him, and he was mine to ride.

I haven’t ridden him in many years, but when I was young, he seemed fast.

I remember those first gallops across the pasture, absolutely free. I remember how happy I was to wave to Dave or my dad or Mike Downs. Mike also kept horses at the farm. He’s the one who’s trimmed Frosty’s hooves for the last how many years. He’s responsible for the good shape the horse is in.

I thought riding Frosty was a great use of my time, but plenty of boys at school thought riding a horse was a strange hobby. They would say things, and I started riding less and less and growing more and more worried about who was driving by.

One day I fell hard from Frosty. I was about 16. I never rode him after that. It was easier to let my dad believe the fall was the reason I stopped riding. I don’t regret a lot of things about my relationship with him, but that would be one of them.

You one day learn that you’ll forget most of the negative people in your life. You’ll always hold close the ones you care about.

Regardless, I grew up, went to college.

I got busy with my life and lost a little touch with Frosty. The other horses that Frosty lived with were either sold or died. Outside of Mike’s occasional visits, it was just my dad out there to feed him and talk to him for the most part. Those two were great buddies. Frosty grew older and so did my Dad. One day he stopped coming to visit Frosty.

I had to go deliver the news to the horse, sneaking away from our yard full of people. He let me lean against him, and we had a good cry together.

That left Frosty all alone, and while I had a lot of people I could talk to, he only had a big open pasture. Horses can be a lot of work, something you’ll soon find out, and with winter coming, none of us wanted my mother to have to shoulder the entire responsibility. He needed someone to love him and care for him.

I pondered this while your family talked to us about the good home Frosty would have on your seven acres of brome. Your grandpa smiled, knowing what a good deal you all were getting on the horse. None of us cared about the money. We just didn’t want Frosty to be alone.

That’s why we ended up being willing to sell him when your family approached us. I know that’s the right decision, but I’ve been a mess about it the past week.

Frosty wasn’t just a horse to me; he was apart of a lot of memories I had, a lot of my childhood and a lot of people I cared about.

I think you’re going to take good care of him. I wouldn’t have let him go if I didn’t think of that.

Just know when you take him away you’re taking a small bit of my heart with you. Take care of Frosty. Love him. And remember all this the day you learn that a part of love means being willing to say goodbye.