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Thank you all for your support right now. It is incredibly helpful to hear a kind word. I used to say that the horses and I taught each other how to work, and that is totally true. Now Zeke and I must teach each other how to work without Lee. I am realizing all over again how little I know, and I hope to persevere.
Lee loved life. Food, of course, was his favorite thing, but he loved to work too. He was happy to let his brother do most of the pulling, and would step into the collar when needed. Even though he wasn’t the forward horse in the team, he was the leader, confidant. Lee also enjoyed people, and you could walk out in the field and climb up on his back without any tack or halter. He would take care of you. To feel him move slowly about grazing while you were on his back was something special.
Lee came into my life in 2007 or 2008. He was actually my dad’s horse, a farmer’s payment on a veterinary bill. Since my dad already had a team, and I wanted to spend time with him, I started driving Lee. His sire was the Morgan stallion Willoughby and his dam was a Belgian mare. Lee was maybe two years old when we put him in a Meadowbrook cart and started following my dad’s team around. I would steer Lee into dad’s wagon is ever I needed too. It was not the most formal method of training a horse for sure, but I loved it. I used to work twenty-four hour shifts in an ambulance company and I would get off work at seven am on Thursday mornings and rush right out to Unity to meet my dad to drive, sometimes after very little sleep. Soon Lee and I started driving on our own.
Zeke came into the picture a year later, from the same farmer for the same reason. Lee had taught me how to drive, and now taught his brother. In the pair Lee always had the confidence, I believe a result of working single before working in a pair. I have worked Zeke single, but not as often as I should. Training is never at its optimum level and using the team was the easiest way to get work done. Zeke was the more forward horse, and I used to joke about “Lazy Lee is on the Left” and enjoyed the alliteration. It made it easy for people to remember who was who in the team.
Lee brought happiness to many people through wagon rides, farm visits, parades, and weddings. We could pull logs and mow fields and spread manure. We had just performed amazingly in our first on farm forestry demo. I was looking forward to plowing and cultivating. He was a horse in his prime, with many great skills and years left to practice them. He came into my life by happy circumstance and grew to take a draft sized place in my heart.
It took one broken pole, 300 feet of terrified running, and all of that was gone to a broken leg and a horrible lesson. What still bothers me is that this was our first runaway ever, our first accident. Why did it have to prove fatal? So many people have said to me lately “I had that happen one time and almost lost a horse.” Almost? I WISH I had an almost story.
For some cruel reason Lee is gone and I try to remember all the good times we had.