“You can never bury a horse if you have great memories of him.” – Hugh Johnston, Esq. (and father of Linda j Salinas)
On a beautiful early-August afternoon, my beloved BlackJack crossed over. He was my very first horse as an adult, and the day I took him into my care I prayed that we would be partners for so long that I would one day have the privilege to bury him. I received more than most when BlackJack came into my life. He changed everything for me.
Call it luck or call it fate, BlackJack was part of our family. If it weren’t for him, we would not have the equestrian lifestyle we have today. That’s the power that a single horse can have on the lives and trajectories of people. And why shouldn’t that be the case?
From what I know of BlackJack’s history, he -- like many other horses -- was “bred for show.” As a gorgeous Polish Arabian, with a glistening black coat and four equal white socks, all attention turned to him when he entered an arena and turned on his charm. BlackJack had an elegance that few horses can summon. He had what we call “presence.” He could also “command presence.” He knew how. He had such “heart,” always giving everything he had and more if the situation warranted.
Blackjack was a “true lead” horse. If you are fortunate to experience a true lead horse in your herd then you have one of the greatest teachers amongst you! I would encourage anyone who has a true lead horse to observe and spend time with him/her. They hold herd secrets and possess an intelligence that is well worth your time. I spent countless hours in BlackJack’s company, and although BlackJack and I had our bond, he was especially connected to children and students who wanted to learn about connection and the language of horses. A greater and more gentle equine professor you could not have had. I hope those who had the pleasure of his company, companionship and teachings will write me.I promise to read every word to him.
My farm is not the same without BlackJack. But as time marches on, we are adjusting to his absence. He’d always pop his head up whenever we entered the property and made our way down the driveway. What a gift he was. I’d like to say I have never had one complaint about BlackJack, but there was one morning when he wouldn’t load and we had a vet appointment we were late for. Even so, I’ll still count him as a flawless horse.
The morning after he passed, I visited his resting place up on a hill at our farm. It was fairly early when I sat down to meditate at his final earthly address. Oddly, pain and gratitude kept me company simultaneously and as I spoke to BlackJack and to God, thanking each for the gift of so many memories and all the wonderful experiences that came with him, I heard distinctly, “I prefer being referred to as ‘Saint BlackJack’ going forward”. If you knew this horse, it was a typical honest request made from the one and only himself -- St. BlackJack.
Our family each buried a piece of our hearts on August 6. To every client who has ever said good-bye to a beloved animal companion, I say this: the only bad day you’ll ever have with that treasured soul is the day you say goodbye.
Wow, it hurts to separate, but my dad was right: you can never bury a horse if you have great memories!
Linda & St. BlackJack