Duckling came into our lives when Brianna, my beautiful daughter, was a youngster and began riding lessons. Duckling was a wonderfully tempered quarter horse, and we immediately fell in love. On Brianna’s 9th birthday I gifted her Duckling, and an already amazing relationship between a little girl and her horse grew. Brianna and Duckling would enter competitions, winning blues. Duckling made her so proud. We would drive home at night, my daughter filthy from riding, face streaked with mud, a huge broad smile on her face, showing her daddy and our neighbors — door-to-door — her shiny ribbons.
She was my son Han’s trusted cavalry reenactment mount, fearless and comfortable with rifle shots off her back; an amazing foxhunter keeping up with the likes of thoroughbreds, cantering and galloping over hill and dale; taking my children and myself on wondrous rides, opening and closing gates, babysitting with humor those who rode off the track needing a strong guide. She tolerated hounds weaving in and around her legs, stopped for leisurely flask breaks with nary a complaint, comfortable walking up to many a rider and strange horse to share.
She took us riding the Gettysburg battlefield many a time. She was even okay suffering the indignity of being dressed up for a young daughter’s Halloween parade at Pam’s stable in Gettysburg. Duckling loved everyone, so gentle was she with children.
Today, Duckling closed her eyes for the last time. Into her 30’s, she lived a great life and blessed us with her tolerance, patience and never ending love. I had the privilege of saying a last goodbye, as she lay quietly in Todd’s pasture, her body still, her eyes glistening, the warmth of the sun bathing her entire body. I stroked her forehead and she closed her eyes in pleasure. She knew I was there.
Thank you, Todd and Emmy, for taking care of her these last weeks, for knowing it was her time and having her buddy, my baby boy Frisian keep her company in the stalls last night, when she was beginning to fail and needed a friend. Thank you, too, for burying her under your beautiful Sycamore, where some of your beloved quadrupeds lie.
Duckling, if you can hear me, we love you girl. Thank you for your rich contribution to our lives, to so many who loved you, and you’ll see me one of these days, on the other side. And I’ll hug you again.
— Chris Green is a columnist for the Rappahannock News