When You Lose a Friend


Vale Poteen 1995 - 16 May 2014  A much-loved and very special friend.

Vale Poteen 1995 – 16 May 2014 A much-loved and very special friend.

It has taken me a long time to get around to this, mainly because I could not face my loss. But on 16th May I lost a very special friend: the little horse that appears on my author and contact pages.

It was love at first sight, that day, eleven years ago, when I first met my future dressage pony, Poteen(pronounced Potcheen, Potch for short). He looked so happy, trotting up the hill with his cadenced rhythmic stride that promised piaffe, passage and extensions to die for. Too fast then, of course. But later, to my inexpressible joy, the promise was fulfilled, using the training methods of the AEBC.

It says much for his character that he embraced dressage, without a blink, after years of trail-riding and stock work. We had our first official dressage outing when he was nine and he went so well that I was thrilled.

A delightful personality, he was sweet, smart and full of lovable pony character. To add to all these wonderful attributes, he had a work ethic: willing and expressive. He also had a naughty sense of humour, but he was one hundred per cent loyal: In public, he never let anyone think he wasn’t a push-button, bomb-proof pony!

I was never really sure of his origins. We aged him by his teeth. He was believed to be a grandson of the legendary Dell Mingo out of a Welsh Mountain Pony mare. He may have been a heavyweight small galloway(14 -14.2hh) with a rich Quarter Horse colour, but his mind was all pony. Adorable!

It is impossible to explain the depth of the connection that develops between horse and human when you spend years together, painstakingly working on a common language: A language that becomes so refined that you only have to think of the movement you want and your horse, sweet and generous, does it for you to the best of his ability. What a privilege! The euphoria this brings is beyond description. Two beings, responding to the one thought. When you are that close, it is like losing a part of yourself when you lose them. Especially, when it is before their time.

I am in tears remembering the dreadful day that I found him rolling in agony, black with sweat, great drops rolling off his poor little face. I knew immediately that there was nothing we could do. The vet arrived to take away his pain. And it all ended on a patch of soft, green grass in the paddock where we’d spent so many happy hours together.

Au revoir, my dear little friend. There are still three beautiful horses in my paddock, yet it looks so empty without you. May you graze the lush fields of heaven to your heart’s content, without fear of colic or founder. You will be in my heart until the day I meet you on the bridge with all our other four-legged friends.

Life is just not the same without you.


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