Every few years, we'd run in to Leap's new owner. He'd changed his name to "Big Red", and with every conversation it was clear he thought the world of his big red horse. As Big Red, Leap had a great life. He was well taken care of, spoiled in a good sort of way, and didn't have to work as hard as he would of if he would have remained here with us. His owner would share Big Red's antics, and we were relieved and thrilled to know our Leap had gone to such a great home.
Earlier this year, Big Red's owner tracked us down. It was not such an easy feat, as we had moved three times and had an unlisted phone number. He had retired from farming and ranching, leased his place out, and was looking for a good home for Big Red. Arrangements were made, and Big Red was loaded in our trailer, and Leap was returned home.
Oddly enough, our third move had been back to the Diamond Bar- the ranch we lived on when Tom and I married, and where Leap was born and raised. I was so very excited to see him again, and when he walked off the trailer we headed for the barn. Seventeen years later, Leap walked in the barn, walked into "his" stall, stuck his nose in the oats box, and then turned and looked at us as if to say "Where's my grain?". After that many years, he remembered the drill as if he'd only been gone a day.
Now, I have to admit, it was the sentimental side of us that agreed to bring Leap home. We thought very highly of him when he was young. The practical side of us argued with that sentimental side, knowing Leap was for all intents and purposes- "retired". Tom spends some very long hours in the saddle over some pretty rough ground, and it's a lot to ask of an old horse. We are limited on the number of horses we can care for. Bringing Leap home meant we would be taking up a spot that could be used for a younger, more usable horse. Thank goodness we don't always do things according to logic though, as Leap has been a blessing!
The old man is still in great shape, with a lot of "git-up-and-go" left. He's got many years of knowledge under his cinch, and he knows how to take care of himself. That same gentle nature we grew to love has only matured in his 20's. And the greatest part? Leap and Wylee have hit it off, and he's teaching her so much about how to handle a herd of cows. On Wylee and Leap's first adventure, Tom's instructions to Wy were "Give that horse his head and let him go to work!". Wylee came home with a big grin on her face, convinced that Leap knew what the cows were going to do before the cows did!
As for Tom and I? Well, we've been reminded of the value of an old horse. Welcome home Leap.