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Friends Come in All Shapes and Sizes
There he was. Being underweight, under muscled, with a shaggy mud covered coat didn’t make him exactly picture perfect, but at that moment I didn’t think the horse could be more beautiful. I had no idea who the horse was but I was content with just admiring him as he was tied up. “Oh. Hi, Lexie.” My trainer greeted me as she walked in the barn door. “I see you’ve met Maverick. You’ll be riding him in your lesson today.” As soon as I heard those words I froze, standing there dumbstruck with a grin on my face, pride welling up inside me. Seeing my expression my trainer laughed and walked back into her office. With a new spring in my step I moved toward the dark bay horse. I gently stroked his velvety nose and whispered, “Maverick,” his ears flickering toward me. From that moment I felt a true bond connecting me to the underweight thoroughbred. I was beginning to learn that there is nothing as special as a girl and her horse and that friends came in all shapes and sizes.
With a handful of brightly colored ribbons, I opened the gate to the arena. I needed to fulfill my duty as ribbon girl at our local horse show. Just as I was about to enter the dusty arena my trainer called out to me, “Oh Lexie. Maverick’s owner is putting him up for lease. Let me know if you’re interested.” My heart started pounding in my chest as I quickly tossed ribbons into winning riders hands. I quickly reached for my cell phone to call my mom. As soon as I heard my mother’s voice on the other line I changed to my sweet daughter voice and cooed, “Oh, Mommy. I just have the best news.”
In the next few weeks to follow I devoted all my time to convincing my parents to let me lease Maverick. I dropped hints everywhere, made sure the topic arose in all conversations, and even wrote a letter explaining why it was a good idea to start the lease. I refused to go down without a fight.
I sighed as I walked into the barn about a month later. It had been tough, but I’d done good. Maverick was my new leased horse. “Mavykins!” I called and was greeted with a soft nicker in return. Seeing Mav in his new stall sporting a bright purple blanket made think life couldn’t get any better.
I led the big Thoroughbred into the cross-ties and began tacking up, with my mom snapping pictures here and there. It would be nice to say my first ride on Maverick as my leased horse was perfect. It would be nice to say that we moved gracefully around the arena looking like a true team. However, after a couple of times around the ring Maverick took off at a dead gallop. Still a beginner rider I panicked, What’s going on? How do I stop this thing? But most of all, Get me off this horse! I managed to keep my seat a couple times around but after we barreled through one corner I fell flat on my back surrounded by a large cloud of dirt. I closed my eyes for a brief second trying to piece together what had just happened. Suddenly I felt a warm breath against my check and opened my eyes to find a big nose in my face. Wow, I thought, I have a feeling this is the start of something very interesting.
I’d like to say this first take-off was our first ad final one. I’d also like to say our other rides were perfect. But the truth is we had at least four more runaways. After these consecutive events we were quarantined to staying in small circles to help me gain my confidence again. Not much longer though and we were back to proudly cantering around the ring. Team Lexie and Maverick were back on their ‘A’ game.
It had happened. I felt like I was alone in an empty room and the walls were collapsing on top of me. I was moving. Changing schools, homes, and barns. But the worst part of all was too much to bear, Maverick would be sent to Colorado back to his owner. The very thought of my pony being taken away from me brought tears to my eyes. I didn’t get any sleep I cried so much the night his owner called to say she’d be picking him up after Christmas because. I felt like someone had taken a part of me away that I could never gain back. Needless to say, I was a wreck.
As the Christmas season approached I was both looking forward to it and dreading it. After Maverick was gone I didn’t know what I would do. Sure I’d continue riding, but it wouldn’t be the same.
On Christmas morning I ran downstairs to open presents with my brother. My mom stopped me before I could tear the paper off the second gift. “Wait. Open the card to that first,” she instructed. Something in the way my parents looked at me made me think something was up. I read the card, confused. It was from Mav’s owner thanking me for taking such good care of Maverick and to have fun with my new horse. I slowly reached for the flat gift and ripped off the paper. My heart started pounding the same way it had a year ago that day at the horseshow was I saw Maverick’s registration papers. Could it be? I looked into my mom’s eyes. “Wh-wh-what?” I stammered. She smiled and nodded, “Yes Lexie. He’s yours.” In a sudden rush I got the sensation that thousands of butterflies had been set loose in my stomach and were all fluttering around. My mom says I spent the rest of the day with a grin plastered on my face, hardly uttering a word. I didn’t need to, my smile said it all.
It has been two years now since that memorable day. I still own Maverick and he is still my very best friend. Though together we aren’t always perfect, I wouldn’t have it any other way. To some it might seem strange that I am so attached to a stinky animal that spends most of his time eating. Personally, I could care less that he basically lives in poop and out ways me by about a thousand pounds. Friends come in all shapes and sizes.