My First Horse: How He Helped Me Save 400 More

A long time ago. . .
22 years, actually. . .my parents bought me a horse.
Sunshine, as he came to me named, was a grade Arabian gelding of 8 years old.
I did him no service, though he never did without food and love while I had him, to be sure.
I was unprepared, as a kid, with parents who knew nothing of horses and a well meaning, but horse trading Papaw.
I had a few years of saddle-seat lessons every other week and a lot of years in sale barns with my grandfather to add up to a lot of nothing, and when I think about that gelding, I am heartbroken.
I sometimes wonder if all this work isn't to repay a debt I never can to that fellow I've never been able to find.
Sold when I was in Florida at 18, 3 years after he came to the farm, because my family decided, fairly, I wasn't coming back very soon. . . I never knew anything else of him.
A man in Ripley, WV bought him, Papaw said. I've looked for him on and off since 2009, but I knew, I guess, I would never find him.
He would be 30 now, and the lack of knowing what happened to him has remained a weight I wish I didn't need to carry. But I will carry it and should, as I failed him.
It is why know Heart of Phoenix must be faithful to do all we can to know where our horses go, that we offer a place for adopted horses to return to and work to help owners seeking help find a resource to home their horses.
It is why I know we cannot let childhood dream rule where horses go when parents have no knowledge of what owning horses means. They deserve responsible owners, educated owners, dedicated owners.
Those are things, at 15, I could not be. . .
Life happens. I was a kid. I was not prepared to have a horse with family that didn't know better or know to "KNOW" better.
I so wish I'd done better. And these days, all I can say is I hope to make others do a better job than I did.
Over 400 horses later, the debt has not been repaid. I am pretty sure it never will be.