May 25, 1981 - May 28, 2007

I bought Bandit for myself as a gift when I graduated from college as a teacher. The first time I saw him, I knew in a blink of an eye he was going to be my treasure. I had always wanted a big horse and that would be him. He was gorgeous standing 17hh. He was a retired American Saddlebred registered as, Supreme Call, from the Arkansas police department. He was my noble champion that walked beside me for 13 years.

I felt as I was flying when I took his reins. He gave me the wings that I lacked. It was as if we floated on a cloud together. I always trusted his footing as we raced against the other horses. What can I say - he was the horse that fed my soul. Oh yeah, and he brought my husband and I together (soulmates also)! We were all a great team. He was a great horse with the best seat I'll ever have. It was a partnership between him and I. I think he had a magical canter, although he could sometimes be a handful, obnoxious and often frustrated me. He was incredibly headstrong, loyal, intelligent, stubborn, graceful, determined and he had a heart of gold. He could be impatient at times and many could not handle him, but if you could, it was like sheer magic. He was always the leader of the pack.

It was a wonderful adventure that we had together. We rode trails endlessly and strutted our stuff in many parades. He even took care of our two children. I am so glad that they each had the opportunity to sit upon his back and take a ride. My husband and I trusted him with the kids. That was a good feeling. He made them great riders. They started riding him at the age of 2 and 4 years old until they got their own horses.

The day before he passed away, he gave me the most memorable ride at the nature trail with my family. If fact, it was so much fun that we decided to go back the next day. Although, this day would alter my life forever because this is the day I lost Bandit to a battle with colic and also the day I lost a part of myself. When I saddled Bandit that day, I noticed his pawing and his neck dropping. He looked at me with despair as I called out to my husband that something is wrong with him. Please not today, I'm not ready!! We took him home and we each took turns walking him from 4:00 p.m. until midnight. This is when his pain became so extreme that he stood his ground and would walk no more. The pain became so severe he began moaning, sweating and shaking with every muscle in his body. I stood under his neck and rubbed him as he hugged me with his head. We stood together as one for an hour until he could stand no longer. We let him go and he headed for the barn to lie down. I knew at this moment he was going to leave me and never get up.

He was my boy and till the end he had courage and strength. He laid there in agony for more than hour. We laid a pillow under his head for comfort but he wanted our daughter's lap and mine. I could not bare the pain he was going through and I told him to let go, that I would be okay. I walked out of the barn to catch my every aching breath. When I returned I held his head, rubbed his neck and kissed him as he took his final breath. Our daughter kissed and kissed him and cried so much that she ran out of tears. She told him she loved and that she would never forget him. As my family watched him fighting so hard to stay alive, I knew the one reason he would not let go was because he loved us all so much and he was a fighter, stubborn till the very end! He never really rolled or kicked like I've heard that horses do. I wish I could have stopped the pain, as it still replays in my mind. He died in my arms Memorial Day, May 28, 2007 at 1:32. He was 26 years old with a strong heart and lungs.

I can't believe he is not coming back! What pains me is I have to let go of the life and time I'll never know again. Reality hits me hard when I go out to the barn. I will never again feel him follow me to the barn or run so swiftly through the prairie with me or feel that wonderful gait I loved so much! We buried him in the corral the next day. That was terribly hard to embrace. I know that the one place to bury a horse is in the heart of his master and he will always be there with me every place I go. My family plans on growing carrots there for the horses he leaves behind who loved him deeply. He was the love of our little herd.

As I move on with Harley, our one-year-old filly, I would like him to know that no other horse can ever match his personality, charm and work ethics. It will never be the same. I will think about him every day. On the back of him I found my paradise. He whispered in my ear and breathes on my heart. We shared great times and now there is a gap where there once was the presence of him – my friend forever. He warmed my heart and brightened my day. He will forever live in my heart and my mind and no one can take that away. I wish I had one more day with him. At the edge of my barn time stands still for me.

We galloped millions of hoof prints and they were all something special. No horse will ever be able to replace this larger-than-life horse, "Mr. Slim Jim". May your soul fly free. Goodbye for now - there are no harder words to say. I will forever cherish our time because it was ours and ours alone. I will always feel ever-lasting gratitude.

I'll remember our last ride that day at the nature center. It was a great ride. Our hoof beats were many, but our love beats as one!   I long for the moment to see you again. You gave me a special gift and blessed me with your sweet memories. I will always see you in my sleep and feel you in my days.

Drea, Joe, Ariana, Angelo, Handy, Cowboy, Kodiak, Harley, Kacy, Spirit, Ahab

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