King James

Registered Thoroughbred gelding

28 years old

Born April 20, 1981 - Humanely euthanized March 17, 2009

It was the Spring of 1985 and I was looking for another horse to replace my beloved jumper, Kingston, whom had to be put down, due to a sudden illness. I went to Portland Meadows race track in Portland, Oregon where they had just wrapped up their racing season. I looked at several horses that day, knowing that if they didn't find homes, their next trailer ride might be to the kill plant. My heart was heavy as I looked at horse after horse, wishing I could find homes for all of them. Then my eyes saw a skinny bay gelding being led from the barns and headed for a trailer. I followed them and asked about the horse. I was told they were going to sell him or turn him out to pasture, "Seems he just doesn't want to run". The horse turned to me and stuck his nose in my chest as if to say ,"Please save me". That's all it took! I paid the man and took him home. The horse turned out to be King James. His father was the great Jim, who had a good race record and had even won the Longacres Mile. But poor James, he just didn't want to run. His racing career was short. The few starts he had, he ran dead last every time. And so his fate was sealed. I am afraid that had we not found each other that day, that trailer ride might have been his last.

It took several months to get the race track out of him. He hated being in a stall. So I spent time just letting him be a horse with lots of turn-out time in the pasture. When I did start riding him, I found a willing partner and a wonderful friend. We both looked forward to our afternoon rides. During this time my mother had been diagnosed with cancer. I spent a lot of time with her and when I would come home, there would be James with his big brown eyes and long soft neck for me to hide my face in and cry. I lost my mother in August 1986. The next month (with much encouragement from friends) I took James to his first Thoroughbred Exhibitor Association horse show. He loved it! He was a star in every class. He also loved to have his picture taken and would pose for the photographer. He thought horse shows were alright!

My life took a turn in late 1988 when I remarried and moved to Nevada to live and work on a cattle ranch. And of course James made the adjustment too. We arrived at our new home in a snow storm. At that point I was told he would be turned out with about 20 other horses. I was having a fit, but he loved it. I remember as he ran away with the herd, he looked back as if to say, "Thanks, see you in the Spring". And so Spring came and so did James. We started back to work again and it was like we were never apart. We spent hours riding the desert, and learning to work cows. He enjoyed working the cattle. But his favorite thing was looking forward to the end of the day when the stock truck would come and pick us up and he could ride home in it. It was a big open stock truck and he could stand up there and let the wind blow in his face. During this time, my three step-sons also learned to ride on James.

With so many horses to ride on the ranch, James found himself standing around most of the time. So when my nephew, Ian, took up riding, I sent James to help him. Ian and James made a good team and placed well in many 4-H events and open shows. After two years, Ian was ready for a horse of his own and James came back home.

I had always wanted to have a driving horse. I guess it was in my genes because I remember listening to my Grandpa telling stories of farming with horses. And years later, meeting people that knew him and said, "Amos Jones always had the best team of driving horses". So I decided to see if James might think this was a good idea. With the help of my best friend, Denise Smith, he did. In one day, we went from harness, ground driving, dragging poles, cart and driving. He took to it like he had been doing it all his life. We showed in local shows in open driving classes, where he won against "driving breeds". He was also the first Thoroughbred to win the Oregon Horsemen's Association Year End Driving Award in 1994. We also made our yearly 640 mile round trip to Canby, Oregon to show at the Thoroughbred Exhibitor Association shows where he went on to win several year-end awards and Most Versatile Thoroughbred three different years.

In 1998, at age 17, even through he showed no sign of slowing down, I decided to retire him from the show ring. A friend called and asked if she could borrow him for her daughters to learn to ride on. So off he went to carry two of her girls to many blue ribbons in 4-H and open horse shows for three years. After three years of him being away from me, and the girls getting their own horses, James came back home for good this time. There once again was my willing partner and friend, standing in the pasture to greet me each day. When I came home from work, he would meet me and off for a ride we would go.

In August 2002, I lost my father, who was my biggest supporter when it came to my horses, and there once again was my James and his big brown eyes saying, "It's going to be alright". That September at age 21, 16 years after his first Thoroughbred Exhibitor Association horse show, James once again stepped into the show ring with my five year old great niece, Kelsie, on his back in a lead line class. How proud I was, as I led them in and how careful James was with each step as he carried his precious cargo. The third generation of our family that had the privilege to ride him. We even took home a couple of blue ribbons that day in some western classes!

During the last seven months, James and I started a new chapter in our lives together and moved to Canby, Oregon. We found a wonderful person named Janelle to board with. She and her son Alex took very good care of James during the day, and I feel so blessed to have found them. I will forever be thankful to them both. Dr. Wilson, from Oregon Equine Inc, your care and compassion will never be forgotten. My friend, Cyndy Marshall, how can I ever thank you for your help these last few days. And your wonderful husband, Ansel, for his support. My Farrier, David Mims, who has been James's Farrier for over 20 years, you're the best! Most of all, Bob, you are my rock and I don't know what I would do without you.

To James: My beautiful Soul, you were the best friend a girl could have ever had. 24 years together went by so fast. It seems like yesterday you were that scared racehorse that turned to me and said, "Please save me". I am so glad you came into my life. I am a better person for knowing you. I can't even begin to think what my life would have been without you. We shared a bond that I have not experienced with any other horse. I am so thankful to you for letting me be a part of your life and for you enriching mine. I love you and will never forget you. Please run free my friend, and eat all the grass you want. Heaven welcomes you.

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