Introducing Abuelita, a gentle Tobiano with pretty rounded white splotches and a tender heart. But more importantly, I want y’all to meet Doc, the Wonderhorse on whom she’s based.

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           Artwork by Colleen M. Good

“Abuelita is a good choice,”Francisco said to Burnett, nodding toward the horse. “Gentle, good instincts.”

“Abuelita?” Burnett asked, looking between the two brothers.

“Little grandmother,”Renaldo said, grinning and running his hand along Abuelita’s copper flank. “She mothers the other horses and watches out for the foals. Gracias, Francisco.”

Francisco nodded and gave his brother’s shoulder a squeeze.

“That’s good thinking,” Burnett said. “Could help us out there. Gracias.”

The brothers looked at each other, amused at Burnett’s American-South accent as he attempted to pronounce Spanish. Burnett caught that, rolled his eyes and took the lead, walking Abuelita to where she could join his horses in one of the corrals.

“Be good, eh?” Francisco said quietly, ruffling Renaldo’s hair.


Under the cut is Real Life Abuelito, aka, Doc, the best quarter horse ever.


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Doc, the Official Royal Portrait

Doc, the best damn horse who ever horsed. I talked a little about him in the last post, how he was Joseph for the miracle horse birth. You may remember that Doc was my best friend’s horse for almost 28 years. I had Doc on loan, so to speak. He was an American Quarter Horse meant for barrel racing and roping, but turned out that he thrived on being everyone’s First Horse Ride. Gentle as a lamb, patient and friendly, Doc just loved to meet new folks and prove that there was no reason to be afraid of riding. He always had an eye out for the little ones (be they four or two-legged) and Chrissy (the best friend) and I nicknamed him Clifford the Big Red Dog.

One of the best days ever was taking my son, barely nine months old, out for his first real ride. Doc knew to take soft steps, that he was carrying precious cargo, and had his ears and tail up the whole time. When my son wasn’t on Doc’s back, he was in my arms giggling as Doc sniffed and lipped at his fluffy baby hair, cheeks and chubby little hands, delighted by this wiggling weird critter. He instilled in my son a love for all animals, and proof that they’re just as interested in us as we are in them. Each of my children had their first rides on Doc. 

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Take a holt, Doc! Look at how pretty this boy cleans up! Pine Valley, Utah in the background.

Now, Doc could also have a lot of fun.  Chrissy had another quarter horse, Loki, who lived up to the name. We’d load up for the day and go hit the desert, riding all over the bare scree with our sure-footed mounts. Doc was just as comfortable out in the desert as he was on soft sand outside of the Grand Tetons with us riding sans-saddle, Native-style. For clever readers, you might be picking up on just how similar Abuelita is to ol’ Doc here, and you’d be 100% correct.

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THIS BABY NEEDS MY LOVE. Here, lemme just… [lick!]

He spent his last years in “retirement” at the Lazy C ranch where he got to wander around anywhere he wanted (the alfalfa was locked up), and could peek in the kitchen window at Chrissy to let her know it was time for some face scratches, or maybe for her to just wander around so he could follow behind his best girl, happy with his life of ease. Pretty good life for a horse.

Doc passed after a long, love-filled life, saw a lot of the world: from Utah to New Mexico, the Grand Tetons to Ann Arbor, to his final resting place at the Lazy C Ranch under some oak trees. He left a huge hole in several people’s hearts.

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Doc. Wonderhorse.

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