Some of you may remember Liberty during his heyday, a large powerful stallion, shining like a copper penny as he worked his way up the levels in the show ring. He showed successfully all the way to Grand Prix, while I was there standing ringside for all of that, that’s not what made me love him so much.
Liberty will always be one of the kindest horses I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I was Liberty’s personal valet for many years of showing, and I got to build the most trusting relationship I’ve ever had with a horse, even though I only rode him (in tack) a handful of times. One of Liberty’s favorite pastimes is his afternoon nap, whether we were home or away I could usually find him napping after lunch each day. Liberty was also quite the junk food junkie, and I always obliged his habits, sharing whatever chips or candy I had purchased from the concession stand. He loved Doritos, Twizzlers, oatmeal cream pies, and would drink Sprite right out of the bottle, but his absolute favorite was glazed donuts.
Liberty’s gentleness was apparent in many things, one of which was how gentle he was with my blind cocker spaniel Teddy. I brought Teddy everywhere with me, and as such he also spent a lot of time around Liberty. When I would groom Liberty at a show in his stall I would put Teddy under Liberty’s buckets so I could keep an eye on him. Liberty would simply eat his hay around Teddy, never disturbing him in any way. I myself experienced this early one morning at a show; I had started grooming Liberty for a early morning test he had, after I had finished brushing him up I realized it was still too early to tack him up. With no other pressing chores I sat down in his stall, as I often did, and dozed off. When I woke up Liberty was gently eating all the hay around me, never once disturbing me, despite the fact I fell asleep on his breakfast.
Liberty is a very social horse, right when you walk in his stall he is interested in you. Usually his first interest was my pockets and anything in them I might share with him. Once my pockets were empty he still preferred being close to me. One of my favorite games with him was to play chase up and down the fence of his turnout on his days off, when we were done I would sit down in the grass and he would graze around me.
When my family left that farm we were forced to leave Liberty behind. It broke me to leave him there, to say what I thought was goodbye forever. Who would bring him his favorite glazed doughnuts, play chase with him, or just sit in his stall because he was so enjoyable to be with? As the years passed I never missed Liberty any less, I couldn’t actually talk about him without crying. Then one day we got a call, we could bring Liberty home, we just needed to pick him up the following morning. Unloading him here at KYB, I didn’t see the graying around his face, or his sagging fetlocks and the fact that he was about half the size of the large powerful stallion I cared for all those years. I saw my friend. The same kind eyes. His same calm patient way. As I settled him into his new home we picked up right where we left off, just as old friends do.