My heart -
One of my best mates, growing up, was my pony. He died this morning.
We met when I was 12 and he was 13. He lived at school with me and was famous for being able to open anything that wasn't padlocked shut. Once, when he was padlocked into a yard to restrict his diet, he opened the cattle ramp and jumped off the top. When we padlocked that, he got down on his belly and commando-ed out under the bottom rail.
He listened patiently to all my girlish secrets, so long as I kept up a steady supply of apples. He taught me about being a good person. He took me on mad adventures. He kept me safe when I got myself into situations I didn't have the skill to get myself out of. He was steady and reliable and never let me get too full of myself.
We went riding in the mountains, we went galloping along beaches. We competed together and got lost together. I learned about balance with him and he had a red hot go at teaching me patience. With the rising tide of hormonal angst threatening, he taught me that I could (had to) put aside that crap and meet him on his terms.
One summer he broke out of the yard he was staying in and lead the two others who'd been in with him 30 odd kilometres back to the paddock he considered 'home'.
I never told my mum, but when I got a new pair of glasses at school I left the old pair sitting on the post at the corner of his yard and that night he pulled them off and ground them into tiny little pieces.
He was the most efficient eater. He would graze along and suddenly move his mouth a little and spit out what ever bits offended him with out losing any of the good stuff. He would eat stone fruit by sucking off all the flesh and spitting out the pip. I taught him to steal fruit with me off the trees. He could drink out of a can, and when we were out riding I would share apples with him. He would keep one ear on me while I ate my half and then twist his head back and take his half when I leaned forward with it. He stole hot buttered toast or cool shark icy poles right out of my hand if I wasn't paying attention. I couldn't wear flowers in my hair lest he accidentally take off my ear when he ate them.
He gave the best hugs though would, during touching moments of togetherness, often sneeze filthy horse-snot down my back or cover me with apple drool.
He was game, fiery, independent, tough, canny and had a heart you could rely on.
I am not me without him.