by Gabby Roselli
Rocky, I do not know when he was born, or what he did before I met him, but in November 2007, he became my pony, my companion, and my very best friend through the best and worst life has offered. For these past 13 happy years together, we shared a rare, special bond that only happens once in a lifetime. To say Rocky was the best horse feels like an understatement, every girl calls their horse ‘the best horse’. But King Fluffy was, he really was the real deal. A genuine king among ponies, a champion.
I could always count on Rocky, no matter what strange or exciting adventure I took him on. The world was ours for the taking, so we rode just about everywhere from the fields and forest of terrace mountain, to our daily strolls into town to visit friends, the gas station, the local museums, the library, and where ever else we felt like going that day. Didn’t matter what time of day, what the weather was outside, or if we even wore tack or not, we just went for it because I never had a second thought. He always took care of me; he shied at nothing, and rarely questioned my commands, even when I made an error in judgement, and I made many errors.
That’s not to say Rocky didn’t have strong opinions though, he was definitely a stubborn pony at heart! Anyone who has cared for him knows he firmly believed that medicine is poison, and he always knew all the tricks since I first got him. Applesauce, molasses, you name it, he’s snubbed it. Don’t even think about that syringe either, “I’ll just become a giraffe,” would say Rocky, and though he was not very tall, most everyone is taller than me. The struggle was real.
He also didn’t love water, though he loved to stand with his hooves in the edge of the creek in the evening after our rides. Any deeper than that though? Nope, he was not about it. Nevertheless, he would eventually go in with lots of coaxing from me, because Rocky was the best like that. He always seemed to put me before himself at the end of the day. He didn’t like to jump either, but he would do it because I asked him to, and he would never complain again after an initial balk of displeasure.
Rocky was also the kind of pony you could share with everyone. One of my favorite things to reflect on, which has also shined through in everyone’s condolences and well wishes, is thinking how many different people Rocky has touched over the years. For many of my friends, Rocky was the first horse they ever rode, and he took care of each and every one of them with patience and grace. He was a special kind that could let you feel like an expert, even when you didn’t know anything at all.
It was impossible not to have fun with a pony as chill as King Fluffy. From trick or treating on Halloween, to hanging out at the Sunshine Fair horse show and trying to win a couple ribbons, we always had the best times. There are simply too many to recount, in 13 years together we accomplished more I think than many equestrians do in their whole lives. He could do literally anything, even circus shenanigans, even acting in our movies, even pretending to be my racehorse for years in a grassy field behind my house. He always received roses on Kentucky Derby day, because he was always the winner after all.
As these wonderful years have passed, and we grew old together, Rocky began to spend more time doing his favorite things, standing in the pasture with his sheep eating endless grass and hay. While we didn’t go on as many wild adventures, I still enjoyed every precious, quiet moment we spent together. Evenings when I just sat on his back and did nothing but comb my fingers through his mane and stare up at the stars, and tell him about my day. Times when I just wrapped my arms around his neck and sobbed because the world was just too damn hard, and he stood stoically with me and held me up, and then reminded me not so subtly to feed him when I was done crying, because life moves on.
The final year of his life, he was fully retired, living in a field with other geldings and having a grand time. He remained his grumpy, sassy self in all aspects of life around the farm, not wanting to be bothered for any reason unless it was to feed him. Despite struggling with a few new age related problems, Rocky was doing well and I was on the verge of finalizing plans to bring him to Cape Cod. But 2020 has taken many kings, and Rocky was no exception.
Last week Rocky suddenly developed a neurological problem in his hind legs. He struggled to walk, and his condition deteriorated rapidly and aggressively. Our best guess is EPM, but it attacked him so suddenly that by the time we could have tests drawn, it was too late. Yesterday morning Rocky was unable to stand, and I received the call that every horse owner dreads.
To say I drove like a maniac would be an understatement, I turned what would normally be a 6-7 hour drive into 5. Rocky, patient as he ever was, sat up to have a snack while he waited for me. He seemed content being outside, spoiled by his caretakers, surrounded by donkeys and ponies, his favorite place. When I arrived, he shoved me with his head as if to say ‘took you long enough’, and sat up just enough so I could hold his head and neck in my lap, and then we waited for the vet, our final journey together.
I have dreaded this day my whole life, and there we sat on the cold, wet ground, my worst nightmare finally reality. I have lost so many others that I loved, yet none as much as I love Rocky. He sacrificed so much of himself for me every day, and when I matured enough to realize that, I always tried my hardest to do the same for him. He was there for me when nobody else was, no matter what. I made a lot of mistakes, because I was young and stupid, and he was my first, but he always forgave me. Every day was a new day to him, and his love and loyalty remained unfaltering no matter what I put him through. I had missed his patience and reliability so much recently, I didn’t want to lose any of those things. I didn’t want to lose my Rocky boy.
Yet somehow, with my fingers combing through his mane like I had done a hundred thousand times before, I felt at peace. Rocky in his quiet, stoic way, was showing me he wasn’t afraid, and I shouldn’t be either. He was ready, he was tired, he wanted to run again. I didn’t say very much to him because I didn’t feel like I had to, he knew how much I loved him, how thankful I was to have a best friend like him.
Rocky, you were more special than words can accurately describe. You were my whole world; you were everything I love about horses, and gave me the confidence and strength I have needed to get through anything the horse world has thrown at me. You were a once in a lifetime, and truly, the greatest pony who ever lived. Rest peacefully my beloved King Fluffy, until we ride again.