At the end of February, we lost my mother’s Morgan to colic. Webster was 23 and frankly we expected him to be around for quite a bit longer. Webster’s obituary would be a rather pricey piece to publish in a print newspaper. My mother had owned him for 19 (nearly 20) years. Purchased as a five year old, Webster’s purchase was largely based on the fact that he was pretty and my mother likes to “brush and comb”. Webster was a pureblood Morgan but looked like a 14.1 hand Fresian with the exception of a white star on his forehead. His registered name was “Moonrise Wild Thing” and had it been “Moonrise Persnickety Thing”, we might have used the name. Most of the time, we had to give some serious thought to remember what his show name was. He was named “Webster” since that was the lake my grandfather grew up on and he had Morgans as a kid.
We, as did everyone involved with him, learned a great deal from Webster. He had a number of personality quirks and while you didn’t necessarily know which quirk the little black horse was going to display that day, you did know what the list consisted of. Webster was a tremendous showman and loved an audience. He had very strong opinions on people. There was a very short list of people he actually liked (pretty much only my mother), a short list of people he respected but generally disliked (myself, my husband), and a few riding students that depending on where they were in their education that he liked. He had a strong dislike of children – not based on anything about children – he just didn’t like anyone shorter than the height of his nose when standing in the cross ties. Having been broke by a very abusive and sizeable training (before us), Webster maintained a dislike of most adult sized men as well. He was an unprejudiced bigot in that way.
Webster taught a legion of children how to ride. He liked students that were either completely new and pliant or very good riders. Those that fell in the middle irritated Webster’s innate Morgan sense of justice. They were good enough to ask him to work but not able to either enforce their will or keep their hands quiet enough to suit him. At times in his career, Webster chose to retire or go on hiatus and then would warm back up to the idea of being a lesson horse and return to the office.
On Webster’s list of things that he loved – my mother, treats (pretty sure there was a strong correlation there), jumping, driving, and showing. Webster was a jumping machine – it was done with speed, style, and pizazz. He would rip around a course, snorting and head tossing and jerk his knees up to his eyeballs over each fence. Webster was photogenic in the extreme and he knew it. I have never met a horse that enjoyed showing as much as he did. It didn’t matter if jumps were involved or not. Webster might be a sucked back grumpy toad in warm up and would trot into the ring, putting himself into an elegant swan necked frame and display a lovely forward trot with just the right amount of knee action. The photo was often ruined by the look of shock on the face of the student that had been pony kicking to get Webster into a slow jog to slog around the arena at home or the warm up area.
We drove Webster on occasion. He made it a lot of fun. You didn’t need to know much and true to his self-saving nature, Webster never made a false move with the cart. He would never have put himself in a situation that could have caused harm to himself. When driving, that is a lovely attribute. Add in Webster’s enthusiastic road trot and as long as you didn’t want him to stand still – it was going to be a good time.
His colic came out of nowhere – he was fine at turnout and a couple hours later he was soaked in sweat and very painful. Despite everything the vet tried, it was clear that it wasn’t salvageable and the decision was made to end his suffering. Webster is buried at the top of this hill with a number of horses that we have had the privilege of owning and rests in good company. I posted about Webster’s passing on facebook at the time and we were so touched by all the people who commented and shared memories about the little schoolmaster. The number of people whose lives had been touched by “my mother’s Morgan” was tremendous and their tributes really helped with a very painful time.
My mother was planning on Webster living and being able to mosey down the trails for another seven years or so and then they would hang up their spurs together (total metaphor – my mother won’t use more than a harsh word with her horse so spurs were never a threat to Webster). So that fact meant that my mother and I would be heading to Connecticut a few weeks later to purchase a five year old (dark bay, not black) Morgan.