This was something I hope I never forget. It was unexpected and beautiful. I saw Sebastian kiss Rudy.
Sebastian may be one of the most beautiful children I have ever seen, although I am partial to dark curls, and he has a lot of them curling out from under his rider's helmet. I think he is between 3–4 years old and my favorite child at the horse therapy program I volunteer at. He wears little cowboy boots and every now and then I can hear a "yee-haw" as I lead his pony. We had a one-day Special Olympics type program on Saturday and I was blessed to have my Rudy and Sebastian team.
Rudy is about 13.5 hands tall and has the softest horse hair I have ever ran my hands across. It could rival the rich softness of an Alpaca. I kneed his hair like a cat and he tolerates me. He also has the tiniest hooves on a horse his size. Like a pony, some nights he tries to drag me in the arena, other nights he is a perfect gentleman. I've been told he nips and to watch out. The closest thing I have felt is a warm tongue sneaking a tiny lick on my arm. It is discrete and quick.
We have some stable snobs and they enjoy making fun of this great guy. He is too slow. His eyes are closed. He is lazy. They shut up instantly when Rudy was chosen as Horse-of-the-Year. This was as close as I would ever come to an award pageant, holding his lead as he stood patiently in the line-up. When his name was announced as the chosen winner, I jumped once with joy and gave him a big hug. I had the urge to do a beauty queen gasp and cry but I acquiesced, and Rudy's neck was draped with a beautiful wreath of flowers. I imagined him as Secretariat winning the Triple Crown.
And for Sebastian, that is what Rudy means to him. Empowerment, freedom, release, pleasure, love. And God chose me to witness that moment between special child and special horse, tiny hands reaching out and grasping that velvet nose, and planting a kiss right on the end of it. It was then I cried.