Pony Express

Pony Express TRIBUTE

Good-by Mr. Bones. We did not think we would have to say those words for at least another 10 years. We never knew it would hurt this much.

“Bones” (Tuts Tumbler) April 10, 1987 – January 3, 2006 

Bones died suddenly and unexpectedly around 4:00 p.m. on January 3, 2006. When Jim was heading out for a run at 3:50 Bones was prancing around with head and tail high, along with the other two horses in the field. Jim paused on his way out to admire him, he looked so gorgeous and noble. Jim thought to himself “God, he’s beautiful!” When Jim returned from his run at 4:30, Bones was lying dead in the paddock. We could find no sign of a struggle, so we can only pray it was mercifully quick. He died running free, no bit in his mouth.

Bones was the once-in-a-lifetime horse. He is the standard to which we will forever hold all other horses. Before he joined our family as a four-year old, Bones had raced on the track. With us, he soon began to learn about Ride & Tie and discovered his true calling. He truly loved the sport. As a five-year old, Bones carried us to victory as National Man-Woman Ride & Tie point champions. Bones taught me what it felt like to be a winner!

As an eight-year old, Bones carried Jim across the rugged Sierra Nevada over the 100 mile Western States trail in the Tevis. In his first and only 100 miler he placed an admirable 51st in under 20 hours, and finished in fine form.

Over the years, Bones completed 7 championship Ride & Ties and many other smaller races and endurance rides. Bones was a tutor to several of our other horses as they learned the ropes of Ride & Tie. He was also a teacher for several of our friends who partnered with either Jim or me, and have since become avid Ride & Tie fans and competitors. They will search the rest of their lives for a horse with the smooth, fluid way of going, the athleticism, the eager competitiveness and trusting, gentle manner, the heart of Bones.

In 2003 Bones carried my cousin and me as we “ride and tied” for a month over nearly 400 wilderness miles of the Pacific Crest Trail across the state of Oregon. He even carried a pack on a three-day wilderness trip and never faltered or spooked, although it was clear from his demeanor that he felt it was beneath his dignity.

As fiery as Bones was at the start of a race, he was always the one we put the little kids on when they came to visit, so kind and trusty was he. He always seemed to know when it was time to race and when it was time to babysit.

The night before he died, I was grooming him as we waited for our semi-monthly farrier visit. I had detangled his mane and tail and curried the mud from his winter coat. As I brushed his neck he placed his muzzle next to my ear and held it there, breathing softly. The tingle I felt when he did that was like nothing else. As we nuzzled each other, Jim appeared around the corner of the barn. I had to laugh as I said “You caught me making out with your horse!” That memory of our last time together is my treasure, and will comfort me as the deep ache eases with time, as it must.

Just before we buried Bones, Jim asked me if we had a grease marking pencil. I found one in the horse trailer, and watched as Jim walked over to Bones’ body and drew a big #1 on his hip. To us he will always be #1. We are honored to have had Bones in our lives these past 15 years. We miss him deeply and will never forget this strong, gentle, trusting soul.hoofprint

Annette Parsons and Jim Clover