KC’s Royal Nikki
Nikki came into my life by accident truth be told. Growing up, I always loved horses and I was always around them in one way or another. More than anything in the world, I wanted to be a Large Animal Vet- focusing primarily on farm animals. So it was no surprise to anyone when I landed one of my first jobs on a Horse Farm. It was a large Standardbred Farm in Glen Gardner, NJ..Stonegate Farms was the name of it. I don’t recall how I came upon it, but it just happened and it was there that I spent the next almost 5 years of my life. I was 19 back then and the only real thing I had to worry about was making my rent and paying my phone bill (I was fortunate enough that my father had been buying me cars and paying my insurance up to that point-NO, not nice cars, but cars that would get me from point A to point B).
My job there would be mainly mucking and feeding the horses, and the various other duties that came along with working on a working horse farm. The winters were bitterly cold and the summers were hotter than tar on a hot road in the middle of August. None of that bothered me none, I was where I was supposed to be . To me, there was nothing more exhilarating than stepping out of my car on a hazy foggy summer morning and hearing them calling to me in the distance..I could barely make out their figures out in the pastures, but every now and then I would see a swish of a tail or a bobbing of a head, and slowly but surely they would make their way up to the fence to greet me. “Morning girls, how are we this morning?”.
The farm I worked on was a breeding farm, I was lucky enough to witness the breeding of a horse to the foaling of a sweet, gentle long-legged, clumsy little one. Oh, people like to say, “Once you see one, there all just the same”..not to me, no siree! Every birth was unique and wonderful in its own right! I’ve seen life come and I’ve seen life go in the world of horses many a time. I could sit in an open field or on a fence and watch those horses for what would feel like forever and never get tired or bored. They are mysterious and magical and beautiful.
My favorite thing to do is to press my face up against their nose and breath in their sweet breathe, their nostrils would flare and they’d breathe a little heavier and I’d breathe a little heavier and soon, I’d be blowing into their nose and they’d be blowing right back, ears at attention and straight ahead, eyes nearly crossed trying to look at me. I’d never last long because I’d end up laughing, but boy did I love that smell. It was the smell that everything in the world was right in that moment. No one else was standing there but me and this magnificent being and I felt so small in comparison, but yet I felt so protected and complete. “Go on, I’ve got work to do..” and just like that we’d part our ways..we’d both walk away, but it wasn’t long before we’d both look back to make sure the other was still within eyesight..”Go on, I’m not goin’ anywhere..I’ll be right over there”..they understood me, they always did, but yet, much like myself, they still needed to occasionally look over to be sure that I have not left, and that I was still there. I could feel their heavy eyes on my back and I’d often find myself talking out loud back to them..”I know your watching me, I said I wasn’t goin’ no where” Silly me, if anyone would have heard me they would have thought I’ve gone and lost my mind.
I was 19 and at 19 I thought I was put on this earth to save all the horses in the world from any kind of harm they may have been facing in their life. You see, they were a lot like me and I was like them. I was a free spirit, and all I wanted to do was to blend in to the background, to be loved and to be treated gently and kindly. Oh, don’t get me wrong, every day was not as blissful as I make it sound, I’ve been bit, kicked, thrown, sneered at and bullied by some of those horses! If they were anymore like me or vice versa, I’d be one of them! I’ve gone round and round with quite a few of them! Battle of the wills for sure..”You best get your rear end out of my face girl!” all the while she is shoving me closer and closer to the corner of her stall..she knew full well what she was doing. I wasn’t the new girl on the block! That game has been played OUT around these parts! “SLAM!” went her hoof into the wall of her stall..3 inches to the left and that “SLAM” would have been my stomach! “Oh NO you did NOT!” I yelled as the beads of sweat were now full force dripping down my face, I don’t care who you are, but when put into that situation you do get an adrenaline rush of sorts! She’s just scared, most of em’ are that act that way. Someone or something has hurt them at some point in their life, it’s fight or flight, much like us, they do what they need to do to protect themselves. You certainly can’t hate them for that.
I was probably working at the farm for about 2 years when I learned of a horse that needed a home. It was my understanding that he was a young gelding that was living in someone’s backyard with a bunch of other miscellaneous animals. Well, it took me all of 5 minutes to decide that he was coming home with me! I hadn’t even asked my neighbor if I could rent a stall yet “YES! I want him!”…”He’s very green and he’s very skittish”..”I WANT HIM!”.
It took about a week for me to get things in order and I swear I was on cloud 9. The day arrived and the trailer pulled up to the barn and it rocked back and forth as “MY” horse was waiting to be let out. OH MY GOD! MY HORSE!! The trailer door dropped down and there here was. He was gorgeous, he was beautiful, he was..be still my beating heart..mine. I was shaking..I was crying..He’s home..he’s..he’s..JUST NEARLY KILLED ME BACKING OUT OF THE TRAILER! Ayup, he flew out the back so fast he took me out and walked over the top of me. Isn’t it just like my luck that I would end up with something like this?! No manners, stubborn as all get out and demanded constant attention! Well, I never laughed so hard in all my life this had to be a joke! He’s ME! You stubborn little puke! Your just like me and you and me..we are gonna get along just fine..
Nikki, he was my everything. He was my knight in shining armour. Nikki was not quite 15 hands, he was a dappled grey stocky little guy. His mane and tail was white and he had a little white diamond on his forehead that blended into the dapples, you really had to look hard to notice it was there, but it was there alright, I should know, I’ve stared at him for hours at a time. I’ve listened to him breathe on a summers eve when he ate and I sat at the doorway of his stall. I knew every nook and cranny of his stocky body. He knew me, he knew when I was coming before I even go there. He called for me at night and I loved to listen to his hooves pound the ground as he ran away from me playing hard to get..he loved when I chased him. No really he did! We played this game where I would go into his pasture and I’d greet him and we’d kiss (nose to nose) and I’d talk to him and he’d act as if he was interested in what I had to say while he was nibbling at my shoes or trying to untie them. I would suddenly pick up and run away..as fast as I could and he’d wait a second or two and then come after me..my heart would race and I’d do it over and over again and he would chase me..snorting and carrying on. He loved it, I loved it..we meshed. He was my boy. He got me and I got him. If I close my eyes I could still smell him, I smell like him, he’s all over me..I hear him sometimes on a hot summer’s night in the distant. He’s calling for me to make sure I’m still there, making sure I can hear him, looking for the reassurance that I’m there for him. “I won’t ever leave you”..I whispered those words into his ears more times than I care to admit. “I love you Nikki”.
Time went on, years went by and he was my constant. I grew older as did he, life went on and I got pregnant with my oldest. I was very, very sick with him and I could barely care for Nikki, but I would be sure his needs were always met, if I could not do it, I found someone who would. I missed him terribly and my heart ached for him.
The time came when I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life, I moved to PA. I couldn’t afford to take him with me, the rent I was paying was nearly non-existent at the time, but now I had a baby and I needed to get a real job and the rental fees for a barn out here was something that was just out of my reach.
What I am about to divulge is something I’ve never been able to write down, let alone talk about it out loud. I walked away from my sweet Nikki. I knew he’d be cared for, I knew who I was leaving him with..I didn’t leave him in terms of leaving him all alone with no one to care for him, but I mine as well have. I did the one thing that I promised I would never ever do to him. I abandoned him. I have this vision in my head that never goes away of him waiting for me by his stall door, swaying back and forth and calling out for me. My sweet, sweet guy. The one constant in my life that gave me joy and a reason to wake up every morning, I left. No more running together in the field, no more calling for me in the darkness, but I can still hear you..I still hear you calling out for me and I call back to you and wonder if you hear me..if you feel me..if you know how much I loved you. The pain runs through my heart like a hot poker stick when I think of you..my nose fills with your scent and I almost feel as if i reach out I will feel your silky mane..and I could still run my fingers through it, and you’ll make that squeaky little noise that you like to make because you think I’m going to feed you.
I’m sorry. I’m so sorry you trusted me and I walked away from you. It wasn’t easy and I still think of you every.single.day. I like to think mostly about the times I would just sit and watch you out in the field. The sun bounced off your body like fireflies through the trees, and your tail would occasionally swish away those annoying bugs. I was in awe of you. I didn’t know what I did to deserve you and I wanted to smother you with my love and affection. I was starving for what you had to offer me..unconditional love. I hope that I gave you everything that you needed to make you happy because I know you did that for me. You had my undivided attention and love for ten long years and I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything that money could buy.
KC’s Royal Nikki..you were every bit as regal as your name was..you made me love when everyone else in my life gave me reason not to. Thank you.