I lost my closest and dearest friend of 14 years on Memorial Day. He had a stroke at the young age of 18 before either of us were ready to let go of each other. Through a long night I held his head in my lap while he ate his last carrots until the vet came at dawn.

His registered name was Day Latch, an American Quarter horse, 16 hands, true black. To me he was Gifford P. McNasty, affectionately known as "Giffy the Gifster". He was the horse I had always wanted, a dream come true, my present to me for my 50th birthday. I saw him in a pasture, tracked the young owner down, and rode him the first time in a dress and high heels. Fell in love at first ride and brought him home to be my friend and companion for the next 14 years.

We went back to college together (straight A's in horsemanship classes) finished 32 hours of core clases and decided that we had the best part, Gif didn't like the lecture classes. We showed in western pleasure, english pleasure, hunter under saddle, dressage, jumped a respectable course, rode trails in all weather and all places. As part of a daring duo of two black horses known as "the Blues Brothers", Giffy learned tricks, he bowed on voice command, grinned, shook hands, picked up my glove or hat or whip when I dropped it, retreived a bucket that he then passed around to gather gummy worms, payday candy bars, carrots or whatever he could collect from the many admirers who loved to watch him do his stuff. He did the preshow entertainment for the TEXAS outdoor dramam one whole hot summer. He packed little kids around in beginning classes, donated his time to WTAM University to participate in the shows when they needed a well- mannered gentleman for the school to use. He entertained at 4-H meetings for Halloween trick or treats. He was always more than willing to visit Camp Alfie for young cancer victims to bring a smile and provide a careful and safe ride for kids who were too sick to ride other horses. He knew he had a precious cargo and walked on egg shells, even allowing some petting on his nose that he never allowed anyone else to do. He showed off to visiting working ranch cowboys who were non believers in the gentle horse training techniques, thought his tricks were a waste of a good horse until his finale. He brought the boots off the wall and wiped the derisive grins off the faces of hardened cowboys when he grinned at them when he was asked, stretched out and urinated when he was told it was time to get ready for bed.

We rode in Parelli, clinics, Craig Cameron clinics, learned a lot and survived the Cameron ranch experience for four days in the Texas panhandle heat and wind. We negotiated a contract that worked well for us. I never touched him with a rein or whip behind the saddle and he didn't unload me. His contract required that there be carrots, gummy worms, and Paydays. Doughnuts would do in a pinch. He opened any gate that was not double locked, even as a two year old before he came to live with me at age 4, he opened the gate to the young mares pasture and sired himself one son, earning his first name of Mr. Poke, changed due to it not being appropriate after he became a gelding.

When we lost him on Memorial day, my companion Ethan House wrote Giffy's goodbye to me. I share it with all of you who have lost a part of your heart when you lost the horse who stole your heart and became part of your soul and reason to be.

Sandra McCartt

Silent Hoofbeats

It's 1987 Mom, and I have arrived,
New to this big world.
But this is not where I need to be Mom,
This is only a place to be for awhile.

It's 1991 Mom, four years later,
I have seen you drive by,
Admiring me in this pasture Mom,
But what can I say, I am admirable.

I'm with you now Mom,
This is where I was supposed to be.
With you to experience and love Mom.
to see new places, and create new memories.

We have traveled many miles Mom,
Together, just you and me.
We have had a few wrecks along the the way Mom,
But those are the brick and mortar.

You have given me a purpose Mom,
To love you no questions asked.
You do everything for me Mom,
Anything I want, no matter the cost.

I have given you a purpose Mom,
To love me no questions asked.
I do everything you ask Mom,
Anything you want, no matter the cost.

Fourteen years together Mom,
The best years of our lives
No matter what came our way Mom,
We stood by each other to ease the pain.

Thank you for the life you gave me, Mom.
Thank you for showing me the Love and Trust.
You're welcome for the life I gave you Mom,
You're welcome for the gift of Love and Trust.

I have to go now Mom,
God needs a good horse and has called me to duty.
But I will never be far away Mom,
I will live in your heart forever.

I was laid to rest May 30, 2005 Mom,
In a place I spent many happy years with you.
He was ever so careful with me Mom,
He knew I was scared and needed a gentle hand.

I was placed facing the North, Mom,
North to the Moon and the Stars.
I am safe now Mom,
I am in a safe place with beautiful landscapes.

Care for them all as you did me Mom,
They all love you for how special you are.
My hoofbeats are silent to all ears but yours Mom,
Put your hand on your heart when you want to hear them.

This is not goodbye, Mom,
It's only a place to be for a while,
I love you very much Mom,
You will live in my heart forever.

Written by Ethan House for Gifford
To Sandra McCartt
May 30, 2005

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