There is a little back story on Jesse. In September 2015 we lost a dear friend, Jesse Gutierrez. He had some sort of medical issue that took his life. He was with friends, riding his motorcycle, up here, on Highway 2, in the Angeles National Forest, when it happened. He lived in some place like Bellflower so that he passed away here in his second home, on his favorite road, among people who loved him...not on a busy freeway...was a great blessing. There is an offrenda for him at Chilao School and a beautiful memorial where he passed away. He was a good friend to many and a good provider to his family. He worked hard and he played hard. And although in truth, I did not know him well, we had a mutual admiration and love for each other and we never missed the opportunity to say hello, to share a hug, a few words in his not exactly smooth English. I saw him just a few minutes before he died. He helped me water the hanging plants at Newcomb's Ranch. He had Simon and Richie help also. He took one of the hanging plants from me and his grasp missed the hanging wire and caught my hand. I recall it was a very strong grip, too much grip for the simple task of hanging a potted plant. Perhaps whatever took him was already affecting him. I don't know. None of us will ever really know. About fifteen minutes later, he would leave us. I would learn about it via Facebook, from a post by Darren Martinelli. And I would cry for two years. And even now, the tears still flow. He is our highway angel, although in truth there are many. He is the one I call upon all the time. The horse Jesse was released a few days later. I tried to get one and couldn't do it. So Richard Rudman purchased the horse on the wildly inflated secondary market for me. The horse Jesse is a lot like our beloved Jesse. His face is slightly crooked, and he is not very big or flashy. But he's quick, responsive, hard working, kind. And as I grasped to hold on to something, and struggled with overwhelming loss, denial and grief that I could not even really explain, I had the horse...and the broken bits of plastic from Jesse's helmet, and his motorcycle.
In March, Grace decided she would campaign a horse for the Breyerfest Online Show, and the Model Equine Photo Showers Association. She had so many horses to choose from, and she started with the more obvious choice, Cookie, a black and white paint mare with all the potential credentials.
Two things became obvious pretty quick. Grace loved riding and training and the real work of ranch life. But not showing. She didn't have or want the flashy attire of the show ring. She didn't care for the "pretend reins" that you carry in your off hand in many western riding show disciplines. She didn't like the super slow western lope. She didn't like having a horse carry its head so low that it looked like it was vision impaired and trying to find the ground. In short, Grace isn't show ring material.
And she didn't give herself much time to choose a horse, or get photos of said horse performing in all of its potential classes....good photos that would stand up to judging.
Finally, she did something sort of silly and ridiculous as professional horsemanship - or showing - is concerned. She went with her heart choice. And her heart choice was Jesse, the little palomino mustang.
He was tough, willing, smart, and afraid of nothing. He was a natural with cattle. He had heart. Whatever you asked him for, he gave it one hundred per cent. He was honest and sure-footed. Maybe he wasn't very big or fancy, but he had everything else that made for a great horse.
Cookie had all the same attributes...and she was big and real pretty. But Grace chose Jesse. Barrels, poles, roping, western equitation, western trail, open range stock work...he did it all.
Grace knew Jesse was a long shot, both because of her own shortcomings in the show ring, and because she had given him so little time to be ready for the challenge. But maybe life isn't all about ribbons. Maybe it is about taking part. Maybe life is about the ride, the journey...not just the destination.