Farewell, Red

Red (HB pencil, eraser, and watercolor)

Here is a portrait I did this week in memory of my horse, Red, whom we lost on Monday. He was 35 this year, and feisty as ever— now running and grazing in the Elysian Fields.

The finished pencilling, prior to watercolor

I’ve been planning to write about him this week, but the portrait was a softer catharsis. Instead, I’ve unearthed what I wrote three summers ago, late one August night at the Farm:

The coyotes have quieted.

Yesterday afternoon I went out to the pasture to say hey to The Dudes.

This is the collective noun we use for the horses. My guy Red is old; a 32 year old Anglo-Arab who’s held the charge of the small ‘herd’ for perhaps 13 or 14 years now.

The job has made him hard, a bit bitter, but always I can have a few minutes where he remembers when we were kids together; reckless punks, danger-prone. He head-butts me, gives me shit, accepts some scratching around his ears and muzzle. We were speed-demons in the field, cross-country jumpers with little regard for physics.

He used to be such a silly thing; so fun, jolly and bold. Now I think of it, he was a cast-off as well. Came to live here when less than a year old, his mother’s owner having just birthed a human child and unable to afford time to care for a new colt.

He and I are still friends, though always he’s irritated I left for the city.

I hope this will not be the last week I know him, but I cannot be surprised if it is. God I’ll miss him. As I still miss Chief and Buck, our other original dudes, who taught us how to be horse folk.

Seems the Farm is the island of misfit beasties; home for strays and castaways of the animal world. Pets are forever here, this stable, land-locked Ark.


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