Sorry this isn’t a very good picture but I didn’t have any on my phone and I felt like I needed to write something about this little grey horse. This photo was taken…oh wow…five years ago right before my senior year in high school. These were taken as my senior pictures and when I had been asked what I wanted to do for my pictures, taking them with Gambler was my only wish. Now these photos, and memories of him are the only things I have left.
I’ll try to make the story short but it’s not a short story. I first met Gambler when I was 7 years old, almost 8 I think, and I had begged and begged my parents for a horse, for riding lessons, for anything and everything that had to do with horses. At the time Gambler belonged to a friend of my dad’s who said I could come ride and see how I liked it. I didn’t want to get off and I didn’t want to leave the barn. That was the first time I met Gambler and the first time I rode an actual horse, not just a pony at the fair.
I started taking lessons when I was 10 and for 5 years I rode a beautiful Arabian mare named Cynco. Cynco taught me a lot and she was the one I learned first how to ride and I fell deeply in love with her. She got very sick very suddenly just before I started high school and I visited her as often as I could get my parents to take me to see her. In such a short period I watched her begin to waste away and on her final day I was notified she had run in the field and had a lovely day and she was no longer in pain. I was without a horse to dote upon and ride for the whole winter and it was killer. I missed Cynco but we had closure and I knew she was better off not suffering.
That spring I was told by Cynco’s owner, who had given me lessons and was a dear friend to me, that there was a horse at her barn that was open for lease. It turned out to be Gambler and I was so happy to see a familiar face. I met his owner and immediately thought of her as a friend, even a motherly figure and I was so happy to be riding again and forming a new bond with an old friend.
I often spent more time brushing and grooming and hanging out with Gambler than I did riding and I was always trying to avoid using the saddle out of my teenage laziness and we’d go out on the trails on bareback hacks and had the time of our lives. I hope he enjoyed our time together as much as I did, I’m almost certain that he did. I would visit him in winter, he’d come when I called his name, his owner couldn’t believe he’d come when I call but he always did. I think he just really enjoyed the long grooming sessions I always gave him.
He was the best horse I could have ever asked for and we had a bond so strong there was nothing we wouldn’t do for each other. The other ladies boarding their horses would joke with me that I should marry Gambler and live in the hay loft. I honestly felt that horse was as much a soul mate to me as anyone else could ever be. We had a mutual understanding that forged our bond. I felt at home at the barn, I could tell Gam anything, I could forget about high school drama for a few hours as long as we were together looking for deer in the woods. He was my best friend and I’ll never forget him.
I wish I could say I had closure with Gambler’s departure but I do not. It’s been four years since his owner left the barn with a promise that I would see him again really soon. Eventually, after persistent emails that were never replied to, I finally got an answer. I no longer remember the exact words but she said I had to let him go, that I would be a great horse mom in the future but I had to let Gambler go. I still don’t know why she did that to me and she’s never spoken to me since. We somehow remained Facebook friends so I’d see updates about him now and then but I never got to say good bye to Gambler and he’s now retired and if he’s still alive he would be 26 this year. I miss my dear friend and I think about him often. Four years and I still cry about how things were left and how I was treated. I haven’t ridden since, partly because I went to college and couldn’t afford the time or the money to find another lease. And partly…mostly because I’m scared to love another horse and they be taken away from me. I’m afraid to trust anyone else and I know I will have horses in my life again but it won’t be until I can have them for myself. And when I get old and can’t ride as often and I find some child to lease my horse. If that child falls in love I will not break their hearts. It hurts too much to feel that, I couldn’t wish it upon anyone else.
I’m sorry this was so long and rambling but Gambler was and still is my best friend and miss him every day. He brought me out of my shell when I was a lonely teenager who was picked on at school. He was a true blue, gold hearted gentleman. There will never be another Gambler but there will be more horses in my heart someday.