Splash of Paint

Ode to the Past

Story and Photos by Desiré Aguirre

When I was three years old, a photographer came to our suburban neighborhood with a Shetland pony. He had the complete setup: he’d place a cowboy hat and vest on a child, put him or her on the pony, and take photographs. I was the difficult kid who was more interested in petting the horse than having her picture taken. Growing up, I saved my allowance to go to Buck Norrad’s stables to rent a horse by the hour.

Later, my husband didn’t share my horse dreams, but he understood mine. “We need to buy land so you can have a horse,” he said. My first horse, or rather pony, was a rescued Shetland that looked remarkably similar to that first pony I had sat on. I named him Strider and called him “the old man.” Before too long, we added a full-sized equine to our menagerie, the Queen of Hearts, an Arab-Appaloosa mix.

When my husband died, the Queen became the bearer of my tears. We relocated from Olympia, Washington to Sandpoint, where we met other horsey folk who took us out on rides. But as the Queen began to age, she got Cushing’s disease. Eventually, I ended up with the Cadillac of horses, a six-year-old green-broke half-Arab pinto that looked like a Bev Doolittle painting—an Indian pony—a child’s dream come true. I wanted to name her Spot, but my brother Rex, a house painter said, “She looks like a splash of paint.”

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