June 29, 1976 - December 13, 2004

Jazz came into my life as a 4-year-old gelding. He was a 14.2 hand red chestnut Arabian with a perfect star, strip and snip. In winter, his coat turned a deep burgundy. He was a green broke juvenile and I was a 31-year-old novice rider. Certainly it was a recipe for disaster. But his sweetness and love and common sense helped us to overcome a rocky start. In those early years I remember being dumped several times on the trail, when that athletic pony turned left and I went straight. He never ran off, instead he would come back and look down on me as if to say, "What are you doing down there? You need to hang on!"

Eventually, we began to work with a trainer and soon found our way to the show ring, competing in Open English Pleasure with some success. But he excelled on the trails. His love of speed and adventure was an exhilaration that is hard to describe. And no horse loved to go out on a ride more than he did. His endurance always exceeded mine and when my legs had begun to turn to rubber, I still had a prancing bundle of energy under me.

His wisdom and intuition was something I came to respect. One ride during a very wet spring, we ventured out alone on a new trail. At one point he stopped and refused to go forward. Quite annoyed, I kicked his sides with my heels until he finally moved. We went only a few steps forward when his front legs sank deep into mud up to his knees. Not sure what to do, I gave him his head and he planted his hind legs and lifted his front legs out of the mud and swung his body to the side. I never questioned his judgement on the trail after that day.

In the barn, he was my universal baby sitter, safe with old horses with failing eyesight and stiff joints, and companion to weanlings.

When my 25-year marriage ended, Jazz at age 17 moved with me to Texas. He adjusted to his new surroundings. He never looked his age and was completely injury free his entire life. The first vet bill, besides yearly checkups, didn't occur until he was in his twenties. After a few bouts of mild colic, we decided Texas coastal bermuda hay was not for him. So, twice a year we drove to Ohio with our trailer to bring back second cutting grass hay.

For over 24 years he never failed to nicker at my approach, nor did he ever fail to come when I whistled. His face began to gray, but he was incredibly fit for a horse almost 29. He defied his age and that is what has made his passing such a shock. He was the most incredible equine partner anyone could ever have!

There are people who own horses, and there are "horse people". For horse people, I believe, horses are in our genetics, somewhere deep in our DNA. They are part of the fabric of who we are. They are how we define ourselves. When a horse person loses his equine partner, we lose a part of who we are and that is why it is so painful.

My little red Arabian will reside in my heart forever and I will always feel honored to have been able to share his life and until I take my last breath, I will miss him.

Chris Wells

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