JAF Twilight Magic

Morgan gelding
April 22, 2003 - July 9, 2007

Animals come into our lives for many reasons. They touch our lives in different ways. I learned many things from Magic, not only about horses, but about people as well.

This story may be long, his time with us was all too short.

My husband sent his Quarter horse filly to a friend who was also a Morgan horse breeder and trainer. After working with this filly, she thought that the horse was better suited for me. She offered Dan one of her yearling colts to replace the filly. He had promise of being a better horse to carry a man. He wasn't much to look at, but had a pretty head and a large, kind eye. It wasn't like we really needed another horse, but Dan said he wanted another baby. He was offered to us at a lower than usual price if we took him now, with the agreement that we would pay her for 3 months of training when he was ready to be ridden. We agreed.  

This breeder/trainer/friend had helped us learn how to train horses using methods of Buck Brannaman and Clinton Anderson. We had used them on the filly with success. I was excited. We had a new student!

Young horses are so fun to work with. Magic learned his lessons quickly. We did a lot of groundwork and desensitizing. We ponied him out on rides. Nothing upset him. His first saddling was as uneventful as everything else.

It was January of 2006. Magic would be turning three soon. Dan started making plans for Magic's training under saddle. He decided that he wanted Magic ridden for the first time at a Bryan Neubert clinic that spring (April?). He made the offer to our friend Debra to ride him in the clinic. (neither one of us wanted to do it - too nervous!). He then talked with Magic's breeder to make sure that she would have time for him following the clinic. She never did give a definite "yes", but indicated that it should be okay. Dan grew impatient, checking with her every month. He never got a specific answer to when she would start Magic's 90 days of training.

The clinic date came quickly. Dan was worried about Magic making the long trailer ride all the way to Paso Robles by himself. Dan was more bothered and nervous than his horse!

The first day of the clinic, Bryan spends time with each colt, checking them out from the ground. Some of the young horses were very bothered by what he did. He would work with them for as much time as needed, until he saw a change. Magic was next. I had butterflies in my stomach. Bryan took him, did a little of this and a little of that and then said he was good. Honestly, I was disappointed that he spent so little time with Magic, but I knew it was because we had prepared him well.

Bryan put everyone through their paces. All the colts and riders were doing well. One exercise that he had the riders do: Bryan stands off the rail with something like a bag, while his wife is up on the rail with something also. They start out having the riders go between the two of them, while they move the bag and have it make noise. They start out small, so as not to upset the horses too much. The first horses would not go. Debra and Magic approached and went right on through, while the others decided it was safe to follow. Bryan made the comment, "Nothing seems to bother this guy".

One of the days Bryan asked if anyone wanted to lope their horses. Debra and one other lady were the only ones that said, "Yes". Bryan coached them as they went trotting away down the long side of the arena. Magic was following the other colt, and finally went into the lope as they turned the end. He was relaxed and doing well, until he looked back and saw Debra. He got a surprised look on his face and then immediately sped up, heading back to the other horses. Debra did not overreact. She slowly turned and stopped him as he approached the other horse and riders. Bryan told her that she handled the situation perfectly. The rest of the weekend went well. We were so proud of Magic and Debra. 

Dan was ready for Magic to start his training. He checked with Magic's breeder each month. He never got a date. Finally, in July, he told me that he was tired of waiting and was going to send Magic to someone else. I asked him if he was sure that that was what he wanted to do and he said, "Yes" (Uh oh, I thought). So in August, Magic went off to start his 90 days of training. It was hard to send him away from home and to someone we really didn't know. But this trainer had been used and recommended to us by other friends.

His first day at the trainers and Magic was saddled and ridden without any problems. We went every weekend to visit him and watch him being ridden. Finally the day came, they told Dan he could ride him. I had to laugh, because he was nervous! This is the same person that would tell me not to worry when I would ride my young mare. Suddenly the tables were turned. Dan even wanted me to lope Magic before he did. I am a nervous Nelly when it comes to riding young horses. For some reason, that day, I wasn't nervous! I got on Magic, rode him around at a trot and a lope and he did just fine.

We brought Magic home the beginning of October. Dan is only home on the weekends - so for whatever reasons, Magic didn't get ridden much after that. But spring time came and we took him out on his first trail ride. Magic was a real trooper. Our friends that we rode with even commented on how calm and well behaved he was - like a more experienced horse than a youngster.

It was sometime soon afterwards that I noticed a swelling on his left hip. I thought he had probably gotten kicked by one of the mares. It didn't seem to bother him. I decided to keep an eye on it.

Shortly thereafter, we took Magic on his first big group ride. He was very well behaved for that also. He was showing promise of becoming a good solid riding horse!

I am not sure of the exact timeline or chain of events. But shortly after that group ride, the swelling in his hip got worse. I had our vet come out to take a look at it. After examining it, he said it was most likely an abscess, a hematoma or a tumor. We treated it like it was one of the first two. I gave him oral medication and rubbed goopy stuff on the area. It got better.

But as time went on, things got worse. The swelling in his hip got bigger and went to his sheath. His overall condition deteriorated quickly. It was the 4th of July holiday weekend. Dan went out to feed one morning. He came back in and said Magic didn't want to eat. It wasn't until then that I realized something was seriously wrong. Dan called the vet, who arrived later that morning. I think that was when he did the ultrasound and a further exam. He talked about doing a biopsy and the time on getting results back because of the holiday. But then, as he stood there thinking and looking at Magic, he finally said that he was pretty sure that it was cancer. My heart sank! The dreaded "C" word. I couldn't believe it. I never once thought that he wouldn't be okay. How could this be happening to a young and healthy horse?  Thinking back, Dan knew. I must have been in denial.

It all happened so quickly. I wish we had made arrangements to have him buried on our property, but we didn't. Dan didn't want me to be here when the vet came. I already had a lesson scheduled for that day that I went to. I tried my best to concentrate and work the cows, but I broke down crying. I couldn't ride.

When I told Magic's breeder that he was sent to a different trainer, she got very angry. I knew it would cause a problem. But now, I know that Dan had made the right decision. If he had waited, he would have had even less time riding Magic. We used to spend a lot of time at her ranch and time riding with her. We thought she was our friend. That all came to an end.

As I sit here and write this, it is almost exactly one year since we lost Magic. So this is my tribute to him. We had different nicknames for him.  First it was "Little Guy". He grew quickly, so then we called him "Big Boy". Sometimes we called him Magic Man. He was a dark chestnut with a beautiful mane and thick tail comprised of flaxen, gray and chestnut. He had the unusual characteristic of having white or flaxen areas on different parts of his body of different shapes and sizes. I laughed about it and told his breeder that he was a "Morgaloosa"! It didn't matter. Good horses come in all breeds, colors and gender, and Magic turned out to be a good horse. Too bad we had such a short time to enjoy him. I only rode him a few times and Dan was lucky to have ridden him maybe 14 times in all. He had a nice lope, an awesome trot and a long relaxed walk that we called his "homeboy" walk. 

We miss you Magic. Dan gave him a kiss and a hug and told him he would ride him again when he saw him in heaven.

Animals come into our lives for many reasons. They touch our lives in many ways. I learned many things from Magic, not only about horses, but about people as well.


Name Index
Return to Hoofprints On My Heart home.

Copyright © 2008 Hoofbeats In Heaven. All rights reserved.
Text and photos may not be reproduced in any form.