Well, the Lord has a horse now,
I just sent Him mine,
the old pal so dear to me,
And I smile through my tears on this first day alone,
knowing he is in eternity.

Author Unknown


Benji was born in Calgary, Alberta in May, 1974. In April, 1982, at age 9, Benji selected our family as his own, and moved to our home. Shortly thereafter, all of the fences at the barn needed to be replaced with higher ones, as Benji would not be contained, and would jump out of any paddock we put him in.

Clearly, Benji loved to jump. Despite his 15"3 HH thick frame, he never, ever, stopped at a fence, no matter how badly a spot I put him in. In 1983, his first year on the show circuit, he won a Reserve Pre Green Provincial Championship. 

But the first year when Benji trained me was not easy. He had no brakes, and had no interest in developing any. Often, my father would watch us go `round and `round the arena until he was finally forced to come and stop Benji. At one point, I thought I was being smart when I turned Benji into a wall when he took off on me. At the last second, he ducked out, and I continued on into the wall. That night, Dad had to wake me every hour on the hour due to the concussion.

Benji also insisted on being the leader of the barn. He would quickly demonstrate to much bigger horses that he was the boss. Benji had a unique combination of strength and intelligence that always put him in the top of the pecking order in whatever barn he was in.

Benji showed for many years, winning many ribbons in hunter classes. During one horse show, Benji was let out of his stall during the night. He was found by the Ferris wheel, watching it go around. 

Benji loved to swim, and we hacked one day several miles to a beautiful beach. Unfortunately, I did not hang on tight enough, and Benji was suddenly on his own. He decided it was time to go back to the barn for supper, and took the highway about 6 miles back to the barn. He was standing outside of his stall door when I arrived several hours later (as I had to walk back).

In 1987, Benji was beginning to show signs that he was no longer enjoying the show circuit. It was taking some encouragement to get him to enter the show rings and horse trailers. Benji was making the transition to a jumper class when his coach was killed in a car accident. This essentially ended his showing career, and Benji made the transition to a new barn, and a life of pleasure riding. 

In 1989, Benji moved to the home where he would happily live out the rest of his days. Benji did not move here happily, however, putting the brakes on all four legs, stopping in the middle of the highway, blocking traffic for several minutes before I was forced to turn him back. We had to trailer him to his new home. 

Benji was initially fascinated by his new roommates, "cows". He was not sure why they didn't whinny back to him. He tried to get accepted into the cow herd, but they were not open, and Benji was quite distraught. At this point, he met Nippy, the Shetland pony who would become his best friend for many, many years. 

In 1993, Benji was diagnosed with Navicular on his front left leg. We recognized that Benji was becoming an older horse, and decided we should retire him. I rode him very lightly, during which Benji would suddenly develop a severe limp, and occasionally even a dramatic cough, when I got on to ride. The minute the work was over, however, he would happily trot off without any problems to play with his friends. Intelligence...

When it came time for his best friend Nippy to go, Benji showed his anger and sadness by running around the field for hours, working himself into a thick lather of sweat. He refused to enter the barn for many weeks following the loss.

By this time, Ali had moved to the barn. After several hoof-shaped marks on Ali's body, and a few teeth shaped bruises, Ali and Benji became inseparable. Ali watched everything Benji did, idolizing him and wanting to learn. Benji taught him not to run anywhere, walking would get you to the same destination without as much work.

Ali left the barn only a few short months before Benji's passing. Benji took another young horse, Thistle, under his "hoof", literally. Thistle quickly learned that this senior citizen was to be respected.

Throughout his life, Benji suffered very few side effects from his diagnoses of Heaves and Navicular. During the winter of 2002, he found it difficult to keep his weight on. The summers continued to be a joy for Benji, enjoying the never-ending grass, and warm air. The summer of 2004 was Benji's last, and he enjoyed it thoroughly.

In December, 2004, Benji started letting us know that he was growing tired. On January 8, 2005, Benji was laid to rest in the field, by his favorite tree, overlooking the fields and water. I hope he is happy now, I hope he is warm, moving freely, pain free, playing in a field, eating long grass, and showing the other horses who is the boss.     

As you can tell, Benji was my best friend. The decision to put him down was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life, and my grief is still very raw. Benji and I have grown up together, he has taught me so much. Benji has pulled me through the most difficult challenges in my life, I am not sure where one goes with their problems when their beloved horse is no longer there to listen, lean on, and provide a mane to cry in.

Benji and I spent many, many hours talking in the field, him listening while he munched happily on the grass. I know I was lucky to have him as long as I did, but now the loss is so strong, its hard to see past it. 

Benji became just as important to another member of my family, my father. They began their long chats while I was away at University, and the pain of loss in my fathers voice reminds me that I am not the only one suffering. I think Benji left knowing we would lean on each other for support.

God, please, take care of this gift I have loaned you. I expect to hear his whinny when I arrive to be with him.

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