In case you missed my previous post, Whiskey is a horse, not a cocktail, a beautiful Appaloosa that I fell in love with in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
I had just found out that Whiskey was owned by an employee of Bishop’s Lodge Resort. It was his personal steed and right after my first ride, I knew we belonged together.
“How did you like him?” The owner asked when I returned to the barn.
“I love him.” I paused a beat then blurted, “I want to buy him and take him back to Missouri.”
“Really?” He pushed his hat back, looking at me as if I were loco.
For a moment I agreed. I had a quick conversation with myself, saying "You need to ride him a few more times at the very least. What the hell are you thinking!? You just bought a horse property in Missouri, but you know you should wait until the renovations are done, you are moved in, settled, and prepared for horse. That would be smart and that would be next spring."
“Are you serious?” he asked.
“I think I am,” I said slowly, but this time I added something rational. “I think I need to ride him a few more times though, to be sure he’s a good fit for me.” Which was hysterical. Whiskey had me at first sight in that pasture months ago. He would have to buck me off and run back to the barn and even then, I’d probably tell myself that he was still young and just needed training. Whiskey could do no wrong.
So, the owner offered to take me for a long trail ride, a 5-hour trek up the Windsor Trail. He told me to bring lunch. I told him he was nuts. I hadn’t ridden that far since I was 30. I’d probably not be able to walk for weeks or at the very least need a 3-hour massage. He laughed; he thought I could do it. I knew I needed to get to know my horse crush. So, I agreed.
We rode for about 3 hours, mostly uphill, while dodging hikers, dogs and mountain bikers coming downhill. Several times we moved to the side of the trail and let them pass. Junior never flinched. We crossed streams and traversed some very tough terrain. Junior was sure-footed and responded to my rusty cues. I was impressed. I trusted him and I could tell he trusted me. Finally, we stopped and dismounted. My legs were like spaghetti but after a few steps I felt surprisingly okay.
I’m a foodie but not big on lunch. Dinner is my main meal, so I had only brought a Luna lemon protein bar and a banana. I went to my saddle bag and grabbed the banana. I was holding onto the reins as I tried to peel it when all of a sudden, Whiskey’s nose was in my face, and he made a grab for it. I stepped back and laughed. He followed, making it clear he wanted me to share my lunch.
“Does Whisky like bananas? I asked his owner.
“I don’t think so,” he answered, as he ate his chocolate bar.
I took a bite and Junior continued to be very persistent. So, I finally offered him a taste. He gobbled it down with gusto. “He’s part monkey!” The owner was as shocked as I was. By then I was fighting him for a bite for myself. I gave him the last chunk which he happily took, then he went for the peel as well. I laughed, delighted with his every unexpected move. He seemed half human.
I’d never known a horse like Whiskey. He reminded me of me.
And food was definitely his thing. Whiskey had stolen my heart and now half of my lunch. The deal was sealed. I’d have to buy him. We were meant to be.
I did offer him part of my lemon bar and Whiskey politely declined, not good enough for his discerning palate. Which was a relief because I was starved.
P.S. I later googled "what kind of treats do horses like?" Besides the traditional carrots and apples, up popped raisins, grapes, strawberries, melons, peppermints, celery, snow peas, pumpkin, and bananas!
Judith Hennessey, Fall 2022