Saturday, January 29, 2022


Who “owns” anything?

During a recent text conversation with my niece, Michele Brenner, she mentioned she is enjoying reading about her favorite horse, Tony, in my book “Journeys: Finding Joy on Horseback.” Tony accompanied me and my Appaloosa mare, Jubilee, on our 30-day, 1973 ride, as well as our nine-day 1983 ride.

I had to laugh when I read this:

“Oh yes, Tony was my favorite! I used to pretend he was my horse and you were just taking care of him.”

I answered, “In truth, Tony did belong to all those who loved him so much!”

Michele Brenner on Tony--1970s

Of all the many, many horses who have lived with me over the past 68 years, Tony is a standout. We purchased Tony when he was about 10 years old for my son Chris as a 4-H mount. The sellers hinted that he may have had some respiratory issues and that he would do best kept outside. Fortunately, whatever they had experienced never once cropped up during the next 16 years Tony lived with me.

Chris lost interest in four-hooved transportation when he discovered motorbikes and Tony segued to his next career as a lesson horse and ultimate guest horse. These roles were tail0r-made for the kind and forgiving bay quarter horse. It would take many fingers and toes to count all the people who rode Tony during his lifetime. Big people, little people, clumsy people, adept people—he graciously handled them all.

In my book I write about an incident in which I was teaching a young girl who had long blonde hair how to ride bareback on Tony. At a walk, she slipped off him, landing on her back. Tony stopped so abruptly when he felt the child begin to fall that one hoof landed on a long strand of her hair. He stood like a statue until I lifted his hoof and the crying youngster started laughing.

Michele Brenner holds Tony while her cousin Tracy climbs aboard (1970s).

That was the Tony Michele and dozens of others “owned.” He enriched so many lives!

After his second long ride with Jubilee and me, Tony had a year of retirement before going on to eternal green pastures. The retirement party, held in our front yard, was attended by a large group of his former “owners”/riders/admirers. Tony got the biggest piece of the carrot cake and obligingly sipped champagne from a plastic glass.

From left, Tracy, and sisters Rhonda and Michele groom Tony. (1970s)

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