Plenty of exciting things happened to our family in 2014. It was also a year of deep sorrows. We said goodbye to some long-time four-legged family members. We lost Luther the Beagle/Lab mix in May, just short of his 17th birthday. We lost Buck the St. Bernard in August, at age 11 1/2. Then on December 12, we said goodbye to Jason, our son’s black Thoroughbred. Jason would have been 25 on New Year’s Day.
Jason came to live with us in 2001. He started his life as a race horse and ran until he was 7 years old, when the racetrack in Detroit was closed. We bought him from the fellow who took him off the track. He was 11 when he came here and our son was 13. Jason was what horse people call “bomb-proof.” He’d been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. I never feared for our son riding down the road on Jason. School buses or logging trucks, nothing rattled the 16.2 hand horse we mostly referred to as “the big guy.”
Our son started retraining Jason to run speed events at the local 4-H horse shows. Speed was something Jason knew plenty about, but his experience didn’t include barrels or poles or buckets. While plenty of horse people told our son he’d never compete with a Thoroughbred against the local stock horses … nobody told Jason. After their first year – with both of them learning – the pair were competitive and brought home their share of ribbons. That big, black monster could weave the poles in pole bending like nobody’s business.
Due to the rigors of five years of racing, Jason started showing signs of arthritis by 2006. Our son bought a young horse to train for speed events, but still rode Jason around the farm, for the trail rides, and in the local 4th of July parades.
In 2009, we officially retired the big guy. He spent his final 5 years as a much-loved pasture ornament. He deserved it. He was the perfect first horse for our son. I couldn’t have asked for better. Rest easy, my friend.