Lost love may be a poignant, familiar theme in literature and on the silver screen, but horse trader Verne Upmier remembers a couple of livery horses who played out an equine version as touching as any that a writer could devise.
“Daisy was peppy, and needed an experienced rider,” he recalls. “While Freckles was slow and quiet. They wanted to be next to each other all the time, so it worked out well to put a beginner on the gelding and a better rider on the mare. The two horses would go down the trail, as steady as could be, and I always knew they would arrive safely home on schedule.”
Alas, the devoted companionship of the two horses didn’t end happily-ever-after. A farmer, desperate for a good horse to use for rounding up cattle, stopped by Verne’s and insisted on buying Daisy.
Verne tried matching up Freckles with other livery horses, but Freckles knew who he wanted, and no other horse could fit the bill. The lonely gelding spent all of his time on the trails nickering and looking out over the countryside for his Daisy. He would repeatedly try to leave the customary route, and was no longer the dependable, gentle mount he’d been before.
“He got to be sneaky,” Verne remembers “He would be standing quietly with all the other horses who were saddled and tied in the barnyard, waiting for riders. When no one was looking, he’d escape– leaving a herd is something that horses don’t tend to do–and once again he’d be off, looking for Daisy.”
One day a man called Verne from a neighboring town. “About a half hour ago, I saw a gray horse go by with a saddle and bridle on. Could it be yours?”
A quick check of the barnyard told Verne all he needed to know, so he quickly drove to town, but Freckles was nowhere to be seen. Verne drove and drove, crisscrossing the surrounding area in search of hoofprints. Finally, far from town, he spied a set of tracks going through a roadside gate and out into a hayfield. No other horses were in sight, but there was Freckles, searching the field and whinnying for Daisy.
“It took months for him to quit looking for her,” Verne says with a quiet smile. “And he never again got so attached to another horse. Daisy was the one who had captured his heart.”
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