The good ones are never here long enough. This morning Encore passed quietly into the pasture everlasting. Though her name on her papers was Charry-Dat she became known to us as Encore. The name had meaning on several levels from the degree of involvement we had in music growing up to the similarity of her markings to those of one of my father's past horses.

It was a cool December day when I first met the horse that would become my first horse. We were celebrating Christmas in San Diego and had seen a couple of horses listed on the board at the feed store. We ended up with a trio of thoroughbreds from a stable outside Del Mar. Two-year-old Encore came with her chestnut half brother Tarn, who passed a couple of years ago, and the dark bay three-year-old Tenaya.

With the VW Bus packed and a new engine freshly installed we set out for home on New Year's Eve. About sixty miles later, while pulling a grade, the new engine quit and we were forced to be towed back to the grandparent's house. The next day after a trip to the rental car agency we packed what we could into the Chevy Astro Van and set out for home again. The horses arrived a few days later and were boarded at a neighbors while the corral panels we'd purchased were delivered.

When they first arrived my heart was set on the young stud-colt. I knew I wanted him to be my horse. It quickly became apparent that he was too much horse and too green for my first horse. The horses spent the next few weeks at the neighbors and we would go each afternoon we were home to work them in the round pen. Within a few weeks the corrals were setup and the horses moved to our place.

Encore was not the first horse I rode regularly. We'd had P-Dot an Appaloosa when I was very young and a trio of Cody, Peanut and Little-girl who had spent a couple of seasons with us. However, Encore, was the first horse I could call my own. The horse I learned so much about riding and horsemanship on, the horse I learned to train.

She had her quirks. Her head carriage was much lower than that would be expected of a thoroughbred and she loved to grind her teeth with the bit in her mouth. We had more than a few rodeos and I ended up in the dirt more times than I can count, but we both learned and grew. By the time I left for college she was a fine horse. The hours spent grooming, riding through the desert around town are fantastic memories.

The red sparkle of her coat and mane, the tussles over letting me handle her feet, afternoons spent riding through the desert and the chilly nights of fall moonlight rides will all be cherished memories of our youth spent together.

In the last months she had not been doing well. The folks had been doing a lot of work in keeping her well and going. Most recently a few weeks ago when I last saw her she was making remarkable progress. This morning she was curled in her corral and had passed quietly in the night. It's been a tough few years for the horses. She joins Tarn, Trigger and too many others we have come to know in the pasture everlasting.