Taylor Simmons

See below for a link to Taylor’s audio file.

Taylor+Simmons

Everybody Needs a Buddy

If you want a full time running partner, chauffeur, and/or rant session listener, I would suggest getting a Buddy.  I’ve had my horse Buddy for about six years now, and we’ve done all sorts of things: swim in a pond, go around the mountains, take a run, etc.  He is my cranky old man, and dealing with him has helped me figure out how to deal with people a little bit better.  Whenever he’s in a bad mood, he decides that he’s going to try and buck me off, or occasionally, he won’t even move and just stands there looking like a mule. This horse is probably over thirty years old at this point, which is about ninety in horse years, but he’s still good for the occasional sprint through the hay fields.  As a quarter horse, he has the smoothest walk and bumpiest trot of almost any horse I’ve ridden.  Buddy has not only been there when I need a friend, he has taught me to be more confident in my own strength.

On the first day after we brought him home, Buddy decided he was going to show his true colors with a surprise attempt to get me off.  At eleven years old, I had mostly ridden the oldest and slowest horses in the pack, and this is what we expected when we got Buddy, but no.  Buddy takes off with about two crow hops, a couple bucks, and then takes off sprinting across the field while I’m yelling for Mama to come save me from this crazy animal.  We calmed him down, as I had not fallen off or anything pathetic like that, and I went on riding wondering what on earth caused him to do that.  However, that little episode was to be repeated again and again as I got to know the personality of this cranky old man.  About every other time I ride this horse ‒to this day, six years later‒ he decides he wants to test me out and gives a couple good bucks before we can get the ride underway.  However, even after all this time, he has never succeeded in getting me off.  Now, my thoughts on the matter are that if I can ride him, I can ride anything within reason, so I’m not afraid to go jump on some random horse to try it out.  Riding Buddy is a test of strength, and I know that if I’m strong enough to handle him, I can do just about anything.

My Buddy is a great confidant.  I mean with him, I’m always right! Sometimes everything seems to be building up to a boiling point, just within my family or with everything I have to get done.  I can just go outside, crawl under the fence, hop on, stretch out on his back and look up at the sky and just let it all out.  He’s a great listener, and sometimes it’s nice to tell my side of the story without any feedback.  At night, I can go look at the stars as he eats grass in the pasture and walks around.  Talking with Buddy feels like I’m talking straight up to heaven as I’m sitting on his back looking up.  A sense of peace comes over me as I hash out all my little issues.  By the time I go inside, I feel much better than when I left, even if I’m covered in fur.  

Then there are those days when I’m out there running for miles on the dirt roads around my house, and I want someone to come with me.  I’ve tried getting my sister to come ride her bike with me, which she does sometimes, but most of the time it’s just me, my phone, and a stick.  Yes, I carry a stick; who knows, I might need to beat something up while I’m out there.  Sometimes it can get a little monotonous mile after mile with no company but my thoughts, so one day I tried taking Buddy with me.  I mean, so what if he’s practically ninety in horse years?  You know, he actually did really well!  Four legs helps I’m sure, but that horse is pretty out of shape with a nice little potbelly on him. But hey, he got out there and I dragged him along beside me.  We did a half mile, and I have to tell you it was almost more fun than running with people sometimes.  He was giving me the evil eye half the time though.  It’s just nice to know that whenever I want a running partner I have a built in one that can’t say no!

You know what’s nice about a horse is that you have built in transportation and friend all in one. My large extended family all live about two miles from each other, and we all have a bunch of land.  Some days I will just hop on Buddy and ride on over to say “Hi” to an Aunt here or an Uncle there.  Buddy has made me be patient with him and give him food (because what else could a horse want?).  He’s also had me realize that yelling at him won’t change anything, just make him put his ears back and stand there looking at me like I’m crazy!  People can act the same way as Buddy, and I really think that Buddy considers himself to be just as human as any person out there.  But having to put up with his good and bad days, just like people have, has really made me work on my people skills!  

This past spring, when allergies were at their height, I noticed that Buddy was having a bit of a hard time running all over the place like we usually do and that he was coughing when he ran.  My Uncle Matt, the vet, came out a few weeks later to give all the horses their usual vaccines.  When I told him about how Buddy has been acting, he told me it was probably the earlier stages of COPD.  Who knew horses could even get that?  I guess Buddy had smoked a few too many before we got him, but who knows.  Of course I was a little shocked, because even though he is way over thirty or something around there (which is pretty old for a horse), he’s always been a pretty healthy horse.  My uncle explained that COPD in horses, just like people, eventually just closes up the airways in the horse’s lungs so that when they breath out the air gets stuck.  But then again, it is the early stages.  As of now, a few months later, Buddy seems to be doing fine.  Now that allergy season is over, it seems to have made breathing easier for him, and he doesn’t really have a problem trying to buck me off and make a run for it.  I know that everything dies eventually, but it’s going to be a really sad day when my little Buddy leaves. But at least I will always have the things he is teaching me, those people skills and how to be a friend too.  Well he’s not gone yet at least, and I plan on enjoying my little horse. Nobody wants to go around sad.  Enjoy it!  That’s really it though, isn’t it?  None of us really have that much time, so we should go around enjoying it!  Well Buddy is not perfect, but he’s just the right cranky old man for me, and I hope everybody has a buddy in their lives just like him.

Please click on the arrow below to hear Taylor’s Senior Reading.