It’s only appropriate that I start with the story of Victor, as he was the first Buckskin to capture my eye and heart. You can say he’s the motivation behind this site as a whole, and the love in my heart for Buckskins as a whole.
Victor was an old, gentle, kind soul. He belonged to Mr. Carter, but as I made my way to his stall each afternoon as school ended, i imagined he was mine. I know he must have felt the love I had for him – and not just through the extra treats I would bring him.
A few carrots, apple slices, and sugar cubes for Victor, and a few for me. Now, of course, I take my meal replacement shake like Ideal Shape down to the barn for afternoon chores, but as a young boy, I ate whatever I wanted. After I mucked out the stalls, I’d visit all the horses for some one on one attention, but I always saved Victor’s visit for last.
It may sound silly to some, but I felt like Victor was looking past me and right into my soul. He was such a wise boy. When I was having a rough day, he would nuzzle me in understanding. When I was on top of the world, he would practically beg to get out in the exercise pen with me and show off his stuff. If you’ve ever had a bond with a horse like this – you know it’s a sacred thing.
So day after day, month after month, Victor and I would share the good and the bad, as well as our afternoon treats, after school in our sacred space. It didn’t have to be for long, but every day, we carved out a little time for just the two of us to sit in silence and understanding of each other.
I’ll never forget the one day I visited early – I never went to school that day because my grandfather had passed away. My Pops and I were very close, and his death was a surprise to us all. I spent the morning grieving among my family, and just after lunch, I knew I had to get out of there. I ran as fast as I could over to the stables, and approached Victor’s stall.
It was like he knew. Before I even arrived, he knew my heart was broken. He was laying down – something he never did – with his head low. As I approached, he stood up slowly, sorrow filling his deep dark eyes. He rested his nose on my shoulder, and just stood there like that with me for the longest time. He didn’t want anything – it was almost as if he were giving me an understanding hug.
Mr. Carter let me take him out that day on the trails on his property, and we rode and rode for the longest time, as if we could outrun the grief. My eyes were full of tears, blurring my vision, and still we ran. Finally, exhausted, we stopped at the creek. I sobbed out loud for my Pops that I would never see again while Victor stood by protecting me in the quiet of the woods.
Eventually, we made it back to the barn. I cleaned up his tack, hosed him off, and led him back into his stall. As I closed the door, he looked back at me with such an expression of shared grief and understanding that I can still see it today. It will forever be etched into my memory. I’ve never known another animal to have such empathy for a human being in my life.
The grief was almost as overwhelming when Victor passed away as well – except there was no one who understood quite like he did. He was a special horse, for sure – so kind, so gentle, and so full of compassion.
I’ve never known another horse like Victor since, but he forged a special place in my heart for Buckskins. I have had some special bonds with a few Buckskins since this, but none just like Victor. Maybe it was because I was a young boy and more open to such a bond. Maybe because Victor was exceptional. I’ll never know. But until I die, I will continue loving Buckskins and searching for that special connection like I had with Victor.
To learn more about Buckskins, you can visit the AQHA site here. They are an amazing species of horse, and certainly deserve to be celebrated. Especially my dear friend, Victor.