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By ALEXIS SKAGGS
At 9, he was all I could think about. At 11, he was my first love. At 17, he was gone. Although Lex was not a person, he was more than just a horse.
He was my best friend, my partner in crime and my protector. With him, I was invincible. From our first day together, even on the rocky days, Lexis taught me many lessons. Most importantly, he showed me the purest form of love.
One windy, overcast winter day, when I was in the fifth grade, my parents and I arrived at a quaint red barn. Inside, we were welcomed by the soft padding of hooves on sawdust and a soft whinny from the refined black head that arose from the far stall on the right. When we left, that little Arabian was all I chattered about. I had to have him.
Weeks later, on Christmas Day, I opened the presents under the tree, but what I wanted most was not there. Nor was it discussed. Later that morning, my father received a call asking him to assist a holiday traveler — nothing out of the ordinary — but within minutes of his return, Dad called Mom and me to help him “unload something.”
The parcel he brought made me the happiest girl in history. Standing on the driveway was my best friend. As I cried and blubbered with joy, the gelding observed my every move. I wholeheartedly believe he needed me, as much as I needed him.
Good days and bad days — we all have them — but when a half ton animal does not want to do something, issues can arise rapidly. Most days, Lex would do everything I asked. Other days, his cooperation required an enormous amount of convincing. On good days, we were on fire: clearing fences, smoking patterns, you name it, we did it. Throughout, Lex was totally unshakable.
He taught me patience, perseverance and, now, how to keep my faith even when life gets hard. Lex never let me down, even when he faltered. Occasionally, our spills cost me some soreness, and once, a stint in an emergency room. Yet through these mishaps, our bond grew even tighter, proving to onlookers and myself that man and beast could indeed become one.
The night was hovering into Friday the 13th when my best friend lay down and went to sleep — with no farewell, no struggle, no outward expression of pain. My pain, however, was immense. Growing up on a farm, I had learned that the daily routine quickly rights itself. Losing a calf in the first hour or day after its birth is a somber experience, but normalcy quickly returns, for example. However, nothing in the world could have prepared me for the loss of my friend.
Losing my counterpart has been unfathomably difficult, but a supernatural blanket of comfort has embraced me since that April night. As days pass, the pasture grows knee-high and the dirt on the grave merges with it. Yet, the memories of the joyous seven-year bond of a girl and her horse remain fresh and precious.
I may no longer be invincible, but I am resilient.
Alexis Skaggs is a senior at John Hardin High School.