Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Beredsam 5/26/84 - 1/1/07

I just received word that my old friend Barry died yesterday. Barry was nearly 17 hands of horse, a mahogany bay with 2 short white socks, a big roman nose with the biggest softest brown eyes and a white star - which as he aged became slightly longer each year. Barry was very much the dog of my teen years, we learned so much together - from collected canter and extended trot and some FEI movements - Man! The flying changes that horse could do! He had a collected canter that was just the most unbelieveable feeling - he'd rock back on his massive hindquarters and it was like riding a rocking horse - he could make anyone look good in his canter.

As a youngster we called him hammer head - he was so heavy in the bridle - he'd curl his neck and try to get you to hold up his head for him. He wasn't an easy horse to ride but he was always fun. Imported from Germany as a jumper prospect Barry's timidness and spooky nature prevented his jumper career from ever getting off the ground. I remember jumping him as a youngster and he crashed a 18" set of crossrails - putting me firmly on the ground and shattering the jump bars as he fell through them. Oh, how we laughed at that moment - the klutz riding the klutz - falling over a couple of sticks. His hocks prevented him from doing too much jumping, but he always appreciated the break from real work.

Barry was the first "competitive" horse I campaigned - we went all over New England - Barry and I. He had this easy-going presence but inside he was very meek - afraid of bushes that waved at him as he passed yet he learned to walk calmly and confidently through crowds while ATVs whizzed by us. Barry had the ability to move laterally in his spook, you'd be walking along the trail on one line and for no particular reason in an instant you'd be 10 feet to the left on a new path but rarely unseated by this movement. Barry won more than his share of classes and together we won regional team championships three years in a row. As experienced as Barry got with all of his travel and going new places, every time he backed out of the trailer he'd prompty whack his head each and every time - THUNK. I remember only one time he stepped out of the trailer without whacking his head and when I remarked on the occaision he promptly stepped forward and threw his head up for another resounding THUNK. Barry wore two hats when he traveled just so he wouldn't crack his skull open.

Barry was the Murphy of the horse-world. Passive, get along with everyone kinda horse, he started each and every day happy to have breakfast, happy to be turned out, happy to stay in his stall - whatever you threw at him was just OK with him - often the victim of bullies he rarely made it through an entire winter season with the same set of clothes he started out with. There were more than a few frigid January days where he was turned out naked all day because one of his friends had torn a hole in his blanket and it needed repair (or more often it was beyond repair and needed replacement). Barry never had an unkind word (or expression) for anyone - probably the only horse I've ever met who considered it below him to bite or kick - even if we were doing something awful to him (medically of course) - I don't think he ever even pinned an ear back. Barry worked as a school horse occaisionally for the UVM equestrian team and he was always used in the inter-collegiate shows UVM hosted - everyone wanted to draw his name because he was not only gorgeous to look at, he could make any equitation rider look good - more often than not his rider would win the class over better riders on other horses.

Barry was sold a few years ago to a woman in Mass who wanted a horse to learn the upper level movements from. I take a great deal of comfort in the fact that he was as spoiled with her as he was with me - probably more so. Barry was happy, healthy and working several days a week until Monday - when he told everyone it was his time to go. I heard that the woman's daughter finally was allowed to ride Barry all by herself a couple of weeks ago. I suspect Barry's misson on this earth was complete.

Gawd, how can you miss a creature so much that you haven't seen in years, how much I loved that horse. I think part of me was relieved when he was sold out of state - because things that are far away can live forever in your mind - if you don't know any better that is…

Godspeed Barry - Godspeed.

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