Irish Bar Bay 

AQHA Quarter Horse
June 4, 1986 - May 23, 2010
24 years old

A stubborn horse walks behind you and an impatient horse walks in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you.
Author Unknown

An imitation bird whistle echoed through the brisk spring air and his head snapped up quickly picking up my location. He whinnied and shook his large, blood bay head before returning to the hay pile he’d formed by his hooves. I grinned and ran to his side burying my face in his mane and whispered, “I love you, Irish.”
I opened my eyes and stared at my ceiling. It was the morning after my beloved horse had returned from his two day stay at the vets along with the horrid news of the cancer that had been slowly eating away at his intestines and was rapidly spiraling out of control. As I continued to stare blankly at the white, textured emptiness above me a tingle ran down my spine and I knew in my heart my other half had not made it through the night.
I rolled onto my side when my father came in the room and with one look he confirmed my suspicions. As I ran with tear drops falling like rain to the horse pasture, two things came to mind. The look in his big, gorgeous brown eyes when I first met him, and the look in his eyes when I had to leave him the night before at my father’s request (he complained I would starve or get pneumonia if I didn’t go inside).
The first time his eyes met mine I could tell, even at his ripe age of twenty, he was a wild one, full of life and energy—boy, was I right. Irish never backed down or gave up, even in his last hours he was a fighter.
There was one time in particular where I was challenged, by my boyfriend Tanner, to a race. Tanner was in the saddle of a younger horse who was in far better shape than my old boy and I was seated, bareback, on my big, old bay. Tanner had never seen in person my extremely competitive side—or my horses. I knew Irish was fast, he’d never yet lost a race (even against a six year old mare!). I, of course, agreed to the race and declared the finish line. My sister played referee and called out the countdown. As she neared “one” I crouched down, laced my fingers in Irish’s long black mane and whispered, “I think he’s hungry, let’s give him some dust!” I felt his body tense up beneath me as I glanced over at our opponents and winked. When my sister yelled go, I tightened my legs around my horse's belly and shouted out, “Yah!”
Even though the race was over in seconds, I can still remember it as though it were far longer. As I shifted my weight, so did the twenty-four year old body beneath me. He dropped his head and rose his shoulders, launching his whole weight into a dead run. I signaled the turn as we neared the corner and let go of the reins, relying entirely on my legs and gravity to keep me out of the dirt as Irish executed a beautiful, barrel-like turn around the fence post and continued racing up the fence line. I took the reins back up when we neared the finish line and slowed to a halt laughing happily as I rubbed the big brown neck in front of me. Irish was always looked down on as the underdog, people learned quickly never to underestimate the underdog.
One of the best things about this horse was his ability to listen, and he really listened. It didn’t matter if I was complaining of bragging, singing or babbling on about nothing. I would crawl up on his back and talk for hours as he grazed. Every now and then I would ask a rhetorical question, obviously not looking for an answer, and he would nicker and shake his head up and down or snort and paw at the dirt. The funny thing was that it almost always seemed like a “yes” or “no.” (Especially when I would walk up and ask him if he wanted a peppermint cookie, they were his favorite, he would whinny, shake his head and try to poke his nose in my pockets.) It always seemed like he understood me.
Irish Bar Bay was his registered name, but everyone called him Goober. Goober was a nickname that was passed down from his previous owner, and it just stuck. Goob, as I sometimes called him, was the clumsiest horse I’d ever met, he could trip over thin air. Cell phones and digital cameras were very intriguing to him and he would always try to call Tokyo or take pictures of the bottom of the water trough if he was unsupervised for too long.
Even though his last night with us was a rough one, he is happier now I know and will not feel any more pain. As Cynthia Garrett once said, “To place your horse's need for you to let him leave his failing body above your need to keep him with you - that - is the greatest and purest love.”
I will always miss his velvet nose being pressed against my lips, his warm neck wrapped around my waist and the endless hours I spent lying on his back with my head resting on his tailbone and my boots crossed over his withers. "When your horse follows you without being asked, when he rubs his head on yours, and when you look at him and feel a tingle down your know you are loved." John Lyons couldn’t be any more correct.
I know I shouldn’t cry because he’s gone, but smile because I had the chance to be with him. Irish wasn’t just a horse or just my horse—he was my best friend and when I was with him I was free. Because of him I know that even when your horse is gone they still live in your heart forever.


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