"How old were you when you started taking care of Taco?"
"Oh God.. let's see.. eleven. I'm now twenty."
I finally went out to lunch with Taco's owner and his wife. The whole thing materialized quickly over this weekend - I simply did not want to let any more time go by, so I called them up and said "let's go out!". We enjoyed a few hours together at a local Panera Bread restaurant.
I had only met his owner a few times before, and I'd never met his wife. Yet, because of all of the corresponding that we had done over the phone, it was like going out with old friends. No awkwardness whatsoever.
They did share a few gems of information with me.. some of it I knew already and just was further clarified:
- They bought Taco in '77, when their daughter was 12, from a man in Brooklyn who rode like a cowboy. The self-appointed cowboy used to make Taco rear up and all kinds of crazy stuff. He was supposedly 3 years old then, which would have made him 33 or 34 when he died (I think he was older than that - something seems wrong about those numbers, but who knows).
- The first time their daughter took Taco out on the trails, he immediately went running down them.
- They used to walk him up the road to church, where the church kids would fuss over him. This just boggled my mind; picturing a time when my horse was so young and the roads were so quiet is almost too hard to do. They had to stop doing this when the church started worrying about liability issues.
- His daughter entered him in a show at the stable where Taco was boarded (the place I took care of him at for 6 years). But, because he always was turned out in the arena that they used for the show, he took off running as soon as he entered the gate, which embarrassed her (she had a friend with a fancy show horse, and here was Taco, acting like a goof.. sounds just like the horse I knew).
- He hated water to the point that he could be trotting along and would literally side-step to get away from a puddle (again, sounds a hell of a lot like the Taco I knew!).
- They once let their other, younger daughter ride him, but he took off running as soon as she got on his back (seeing a theme here?).
- Their daughter used to jump him. But, he had a bad front leg, and it often needed to be wrapped and liniment applied.
- Their daughter stopped riding him around 1992, which left a full decade between then and the time I started taking care of him.
They were shocked when I told them I had never even sat on his back. After hearing these stories, though, I'm not so sure I would have wanted to!
I showed them the photo album I had of all of the pictures that I took of him, and they said they have some at home that they need to show me. (They've been saying this for years, but maybe now that I actually saw them in person, that'll get the ball rolling.)
The things I forgot to ask about were where his name came from and whether or not they knew what breed he was.
My hope is to go to lunch with them again sometime. I don't think there's any way to accurately express how much I miss that horse... so just clinging on to those little memories means a whole lot to me.