Blaze. My very first horse. Every time I see horses in pasture or being involved in any kind of activity, Blaze comes back and I relive some of our adventures.

When I was a child, I always wanted to horseback ride. However, at that time, it was only a dream. Finally, I was able to take riding lessons and learn the proper way of dealing with these beautiful and varied breeds of animal.

The instructor put me on a 'safe' horse. I fell in love with Blaze immediately. A beautiful chestnut gelding with a white star on the front of his head between his eyes. Any attempt of putting me on another mount to learn the different 'horse personalities' didn't go down very well. It usually started with - oh, please, no - and proceeded from there on to a long face, some very serious and firm talk by the instructor and me, finally, backing down.

I started looking at Blaze as being my horse. Being used for riding lessons, he would go round and round the exercise ring, his back being bounced upon by children to adults. I really didn't like that life for him.

So, quick decision, I purchased him. He was 9 years old at that time. No more other people using him, pulling on his mouth. He was mine and he knew it. His coat was shiny, I bought special feed for him, had regular visits from the vet and blacksmith. He was healthy and in the prime of his life.

We had wonderful times together, running the trails and jumping the hurdles; going through lakes up to his tummy; climbing sand dunes. However, I did learn during that time that he did have a stubborn streak. If he didn't want to do something, there was absolutely know way of budging him. Trying to convince and/or force him to obey usually ended with me being more upset and him having a satisfied expression on his face.

As time passed and we both grew older, Blaze's past as a school horse finally caught up with him. His joints were becoming inflamed, arthritis had set in and his general health slowly deteriorated. Our outings became shorter and more labored. I retired him to a warm stable and beautiful and abundant grass pasture.

The vet did what he could to keep him as pain free as possible. He received massages to make him comfortable. There were always hugs and kisses, apples and carrots and other treats in abundance.

But eventually it was time to make 'the decision'. It was heart braking, but is was the human and kind thing to do. Blaze passed away on a beautiful fall day, outside in the pasture he loved so much.

Blaze, the living being is gone, but he will always be with me.

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