February 9, 1988 – February 2, 2018
Friday February 2nd I said goodbye to my friend and partner of over 20 years for the last time.
Az arrived at High Country in 1994 when he was 6 years old. On September 27, 1997, when he was 9, I rode him for the very first time in a lesson. I bought him April 1 the next year.
Under saddle, his favourite activity was jumping. I never had to set a jump higher than 18 inches because he would jump the rails like they were electrified and with the inverted style of a deer. He loved it, though. If standards were being set up in the arena, and he wasn’t going between them, he would fuss and carry on until we went through them and, only then, would he settle down and go back to his job.
He retired in 2011, at the age of 23, when his declining eyesight made him too spooky and unreliable to continue being ridden. He replaced his riding job with a groundwork job where he continued to learn new skills, like ground tying when he was 29, and the pursuit of (purely platonic) love affairs with various mares.
Az was sweet and funny. He loved children and was always kind, gentle, and careful around them. He also had a clever and devious mind. Over the years, through careful planning or seized opportunities, he escaped from his stall, his paddock, his pasture, and the entire property at one point.
He was a tough, resilient little horse. Az recovered from multiple bouts of colic and choke and several eye injuries. There have been many rounds of stitches to sew up injuries either from love affairs gone wrong or an inability to recognize he was not the bigger horse. He rehabbed a torn ligament in a hind leg when he was 21, a torn tendon and ligament in a front leg at the age of 27, and a severe cut to his hock joint when he was 29.
I will miss his love of bananas, salt and vinegar chips, anything that contained molasses, and the new grass of spring.
I will miss his deep nicker when he saw me that always seemed like it belonged to a much larger horse.
I will miss watching Az and Lady chase crows in the pasture.
I will miss the simple pleasure of visiting him in the field and sinking my hands into his thick, warm fur coat on a sunny winter day.
I will miss adding to the list of people Az outwitted and outsmarted, some more than once, even though they had been warned not to trust the sneaky, mischievous little guy.
I will miss the joy and enthusiasm he greeted almost every day of his life with.
Az died at sunset from a stroke or seizure surrounded by his mares – a ladies man right to the end.