I went to bad sad last night. Sad but grateful.

We sold one of our Arabian geldings earlier this week and the new owner came yesterday afternoon with a friend, a truck and a trailer and got him. As they headed out, Tango and Shiloh called back and forth to each other. Tango from the trailer and Shiloh from the paddock. We could hear Tango still whinnying as the truck and trailer disappeared around the curve a quarter-mile away. Shiloh spun away from the fence and raced across the pen, punctuating his despair with a buck and kick. He made a couple of runs around the perimeter, then calmed down and came up to the shed. Randa fed him a handful of sweet feed and rubbed his neck a little. Then, he trotted back over to the southeast corner of the lot and stood there, ears perked forward, looking over the fence in the direction the trailer had gone.

I didn’t run or kick or yell but I do miss Tango. He was the first horse I ever spent any significant time with even though I’d been around a couple others many years ago.

Dad bought a big pinto pony named Sam when I was twelve or so. He bucked me off the first time I rode on him. I avoided him for a while after that but later started going out to the pasture alone with a halter and some sugar cubes. He’d let me ride him bareback around the field. Two or three weeks after I’d started doing that I came from school one day, changed clothes and headed to the field. Sam was gone.

“Where’s Sam?” I asked Dad. “I sold him.” I couldn’t believe it.

“You sold him?”

“You kids weren’t riding him or anything, so I sold him,” Dad replied, more firmly than necessary.

“I’ve ridden him every day for the last two weeks,” I responded, eyes burning and throat tightening.

“Well, I didn’t know that.”

That was the end of the discussion and the end of my horse experience until six years later when my sister-in-law finally persuaded me to get on her horse. He took off running through the woods while I hung on, hunkered down beneath the branches and kept jerking on the reins until he finally turned out of the trees. As soon as we cleared the last limb, I jumped off and swore off of riding. Well, at least I swore.

Tango didn’t run me under any branches or buck me off in the pen or pasture. He just wasn’t trained enough to make riding him a relaxing or pleasurable activity. Even though she is an excellent rider, Randa found him frustrating and aggravating.

We debated for months about what to do with him, whether to hire a trainer or just sell him. In the end, selling him won out over putting more and more money into a horse that would still be neurotic, even after the training. I know we made the right decision but sometimes, even the right decision can leave us with a bit of sadness. We wanted a horse that would be safe for me and the grandkids. But man, oh, man, Tango was a beautiful horse. The pictures we posted on Craigslist and EquineNow look like something from a calendar.

But a few bad habits can overcome infatuation and a fully trained horse with slightly less refined features is much preferred here over an eight-hundred-pound self-propelled lawn ornament. Which is why Shiloh is still in the pasture this morning.

And I am remembering that God prefers obedience over sacrifice.

H. Arnett


About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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