Trego, Montana September 28th 2016


Essie Pearl  –  2001 to 2016

This American Life, a radio podcast many of you may be familiar with presented a story about a Japanese phone booth last night, the folding door kind with a non working rotary phone …….. on a beach. Where one can call their beloved and much missed deceased family members and friends taken by the 2005 tsunami. I listened as Japanese widows and widowers came and went, how moving. They’d found a way to stay connected, a place to talk and shed tears. Such a good idea, call them up and talk. If I could do that and could call Essie I would tell her… “I am so sorry I could not save you. I am so sorry. It will take a long time before I stop calling your name to come.”

I miss her terribly.

She was a fat, dumpy looking Norwegian Fjord with a “don’t bother me” look in her eyes standing alone in her pasture when we first met. I didn’t pay much attention to her really. But then I looked again and again and….

I bought Essie from Mark and Theodora Rice in the winter of 2007/08. Theodora, now Theodora Brennan many years a dear friend assisted at Essie’s birth, imprinted her and loved her as much as I did, well almost. She spent her first 6 years at the Rice home which has now become Theodora’s Garden (see sponsorship page). She had a beautiful home but little exercise. Her brother and mother had already been sold. Essie remained unsold because of her pushy attitude. She really did have a no nonsense, “leave me alone” look when I cast eyes on her the first time. I’d decided my Claire Dog who had walked 7000 miles (enough already) needed a horse of her own. Requirements for such a horse?….SAFE. A wide flat back – not to tall, SAFE. Six years old, perfect age. Not much training but willing, SAFE.

“Essie Pearl you beautiful girl,” that’s what I called her, “Essie Pearl you beautiful girl.”

Traveling with her always felt like traveling with something ancient. She was different, her look, her gaze, her attitude like a wise old impatient woman. The cave drawings in France? That is Essie Pearl! Twenty-one thousand miles later, my first pack horse, my first Norwegian Fjord became irreplaceable, at least I can not imagine ever having another horse as good as her. Her combination of temperament and physical attributes specific to long riding makes me think so. It also takes a lot of time and years. Damn she was good. Whether pack or lead horse she had it down. She knew what to do. She preferred being in front next to me. Her favorite traveling position had Claire leading the troupe, me at her left side walking with her (not to fast, slightly behind her ears) and Spirit, packing, at her right rear. There came over her a look of pure contentment, like everything is just as it should be for Essie. Ears forward, alert, interested. We were doing it right.

Her picket and rope skills – astonishing. Her traffic skills – second to none. Nine years we traveled together. She was easy to pad and pack and treated her most precious cargo, Claire dog, with great care. She was an “easy keeper.” But my oh my she could be cantankerous. Down right vicious when it came to food. She had her own way of doing things and just as soon it be kept that way.

She swam in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, three of the great lakes, crossed Death Valley (Mojave Desert) the Sonora Desert and the Little Red Desert of Wyoming. She made two Canadian trips, traveled from Texas to Calgary. She crossed the United States twice the Rocky Mountains nine times the Cascades four.

I like to think it beat a long, slow, uninteresting life as a pasture potato.

Essie Pearl you beautiful girl! To me you shall remain the greatest long riding horse that ever lived!

Thank you.

And Thank you, to all you who have sent condolences, cards and reassurance. Thank you

Kennebunk, ME 10/11/14 Parsons Beach
Kennebunk, ME 10/11/14 Parsons Beach