Last year, right around this time of year, actually, Wren started to learn to ride. I chose Hunter's Ridge Equestrian Center in Powhatan, VA, because I liked the phone conversation I had with the owner and trainer, Kathy Pitt. She was knowledgeable, friendly and kind, took care of her horses well, and most of all, was willing and able to teach a very young child the skills necessary to ride. Wren was six, and completely in love with horses.
We met Keepsake, the venerable pony.
Twenty-six years old, a Welsh pony mare, and quiet and dignified, Keepsake was the perfect beginner's pony. She was tall, just about 14 hands, but she was calm, and slow, and tolerated just about anything happening on her back or around her and barely batted an eye.
Wren rode her all spring and summer, and in the fall, the time came for Keepsake to be retired. Wren had moved on somewhat to Champ, and Lily, and even took a shot at riding Gabby (which ended in her first fall), but Keepsake was always her favorite. We told her she was Keep's last little girl to teach to ride.
After Wren had a couple of confidence-shaking falls in the crummy cold weather this winter, Keepsake came out of retirement so Wren could regain some of the confidence she lost. All Keepsake was really up for these days was walking, so that is what she and Wren did.
Wren was lucky enough to have a couple of lessons more on Keepsake, and I am happy that we got a few more pictures of shaggy, beautiful, sweet Keepsake.
January 2nd of this year, Keepsake suffered a small stroke, but recovered, and wasn't permanently affected.
Sometime yesterday, Keepsake, who was afflicted with melanoma, a slow-growing cancer common to grey horses and ponies, became ill. She colicked, and couldn't recover this time, and the decision was made to let her go.
I am so eternally grateful that Wren had her in her life, and that she was able to have a good experience with her. I am worried that Wren will not want to ride anymore, without her staid and solid pony friend.
We're really going to miss you, Keepsake, but I know you are galloping around greener pastures.
I just have no idea how to tell Wren.