There are so many Woody stories I could tell. Perhaps all Woody’s patients should get together and write a book about him. He’s as good with young horses as he is with old women. When he first arrived, I turned him out with Jimmy, my then 2-year-old Paint/Thoroughbred who was a pushy brat. He’d crowd me at the gate, run over Dino, his yearling field mate, and tear up anything that got near his mouth. Within a week of living with Woody, he turned into a respectful young man who didn’t even go near the gate when I walked in and stopped picking on Dino. I’d watched Woody discipline him those first few days. He never lifted a leg to kick him or opened his mouth to bite him. Instead, he just turned his head and gave him the Woody look that said: “Behave, and be respectful. Our job is to keep these people safe.”
Woody is a man who knows his mission. Which is why I know Leah will be flying soon.
Farewell For Now
She arrived at noon, just as the morning sun had dried Woody’s freshly washed copper coat. I’d taken him from his pasture early to give him a bath and then put him back so he could have a little more time with his boys, Jimmy and Dino. These three are always plastered together.
Leah and I walked to the pasture to get him. The apples and honey were on a table near her trailer, ready for Woody’s New Year celebration. As I lead him up, I told her Woody stories. The time I took him trail riding with my foxhunting friends who know no hill too steep to climb or descend. Woody, a show ring hunter at heart, never complained and just kept trudging. I could have gone on and on, but Leah had a long drive ahead.
I dipped the apple slices in the honey and held them out to Woody. He’s clearly not Jewish, because he wouldn’t eat them with the gooey coating. So I washed off the honey, and he slurped them up. We talked some more, and Leah knew I was stalling. “That’s alright,” she said, “take as much time as you need.”
“No, it’s time,” I said, and yes I was crying.
Goodbye old friend and thank you for rescuing me. You have one more mission, then it’s back here to Finally Farm where you will retire and meander through the pasture with your boys.
Jody Jaffe is the author of "Horse of a Different Killer," "Chestnut Mare, Beware," and "In Colt Blood," which have been featured in People Magazine and translated into German, Japanese and Czech. She is also the co-author of the novels, "Thief of Words," and "Shenandoah Summer." She is a journalist who was on a team at the Charlotte Observer that won the Pulitzer Prize. Her articles have been published in many major newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Washingtonian and Practical Horseman. In addition, she teaches journalism at Hollins University. She lives on a farm in Lexington, Va., with her husband, John Muncie, and their eight horses. She attempts to ride hunters with her trainer, the ever-patient, Gordon Reistrup.