The Orange Trail as seen through Diego's ears
Where to start...since we had never owned a horse before, he basically taught us everything. Over the years he was a patient soul, a friend, and sometimes a royal pain in the butt but I wouldn't have traded him for the world.
He was Craig's buddy. It was funny to watch him wait for Craig to "tackle football" him. He even reached back one day and grabbed Craig's sleeve and started to walk away. Craig had a special place in his heart for Diego. Diego was the exception to every rule.
For T, he taught her how to be a good horsewoman. I never worried about her with him. He took care of her and let her play with him for hours. She could braid him until her heart's content and groom him forever. He loved it and he loved her. She was 3 1/2 when we got him and really doesn't remember what life was like before him. He taught her how to be a confident rider - whether she was riding double with me on the Blue Trail in Green Lane Park or she was cantering him by herself at Val's Corral. I couldn't have asked for a better teacher.
For me, he taught me how to be a good horsewoman, too - whether he was a willing partner or testing me. We became a team. Riding him was easy for me over the years because we knew each other. He carried me through Evansburg State Park, Valley Forge Park, Green Lane Park, the Perk Trail. We even blazed a few trails of our own at Majestic Acres. The best times were just the two of us on a trail with the wind blowing in the trees. My wish for my birthday last year was to just ride so Craig packed the two of us into the truck and trailer, and Diego and I walked, trotted and cantered the Orange Trail in Green Lane. That was the last real trail ride that we took together. He started to really hate getting onto the trailer and I didn't want to stress him out. Over the years, he stood patiently for me to try new tack, new training methods, foot trimming, you name it, he stood for it. He taught me how to ride, despite the fact that I was terrified some days. We mastered walk, trot, canter, gallop. We jumped cavalettis, jumps, logs, water. Oh yeah, water. He loved water and would spend several minutes in the creek or reservoir stomping in the water and soaking us both. We had 2 big water tubs in the pasture because he would consistently splash all of the water out of one of them. It was pretty funny to watch and he was pretty proud of himself when he was soaking wet.
Diego was the one that you could turn out with a timid horse and not worry about. He was the one that could clear a flock of turkeys from a trail without blinking an eye. He was the one I used to teach other horses how to free lunge. He was my "Steady Eddy". He was an awesome trail horse and being in the woods was definitely his favorite place. He would start to get grumpy in the ring and after a trail ride in the woods, he would be a different horse.
He is irreplaceable and will be missed every day of my life.