Percheron Draft Horse and The Gentlest of Giants

Departed December 21, 2006

What Wasn't Said?

What can I say about Major that hasn't been said before? That wasn't in the Rural Heritage magazine story? That hasn't been told on the horsey websites? That hasn't been bragged to his former owner and all the other carriage drivers? To the folks I know and to those I don't know at all? That wasn't in the Harborview Medical Center 2005 "Annual Report to the Community?" Or said by the announcer as we passed the viewing stand at the July 4th Parade ("Now THERE'S a classy horse!")? That wasn't said to, or by, his farrier? His vet? By thousands of carriage passengers all those years? By the dozens of kids who rode him these past seven? That won't be in The Book I some day hope to write? That's not being said about his tail hair that I'm to be buried with, by the folks who'll make it happen?

What wasn't said was that he almost had no career at all - that it was only when Jon said he'd keep the spunkier of two, and the big horse boringly cocked one foot while his brother just stood there, that the decision was made to keep him. Or that he was the drowsy teacher of a hundred drivers: If you could drive Major – convince him to work - you could drive anything.

What wasn't said was that, pulling a fancy carriage, he'd stop in his tracks to doze, to eat popcorn from dumpsters, or to simply look around, oblivious to Harleys or snowplows or tour buses. Or trains. He had an attention deficit, and a hypoactivity disorder. He'd have slept his life away, given a chance. Hitched to Stanley, his teammate, he'd sometimes dig in and refuse to move.

At least once, he saved the day. Like the time his harness snapped on the 5th Avenue Hill with Dee driving, and he backed and stood there – and stood, and stood – bracing the carriage directly on his rump until help arrived. But when he was mad, he could jackknife a carriage in a heartbeat.

We were of one mind, from the start: he didn't like to be told what to do, and neither do I.

We got along great.

What wasn't said was that in 1999, Major spoke to me once, plain as day:

"Two men came to look at me." 

I learned, a week later, that he was for sale and had been visited just days earlier by two prospective buyers. In that moment, I decided to buy him, myself.

What wasn't said was that he was my Alaska, when I left there and brought him to me.

He was a landmark in this countryside, a slow-moving clown, and the only horse I've known that could rightfully be called "bombproof."

He was a mountain - my rock and my hero - and when I was dying, he passed his strength to me.

What wasn't said was that Major was like...a lobster dinner, something not to be enjoyed too much, or too often, or with unneeded relish. Something so big, so solid, so powerful, so wonderful, so special and so GOOD, that I dared not lose my heart to him. Not completely.

What wasn't said was that I hoped I'd go first, so as not to bear his loss.

That's how much I loved him.

What wasn't said is that I never once dared to believe that he was really mine. But he was, for a little while. And if it was all a dream, it's the best I've ever had.

Judy Otteson

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