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Tribute to WW Black Magic


“Somewhere in time's own space
There must be some sweet pastured place
Where creeks sing on and tall trees grow
Some paradise where horses go,
For by the love that guides my pen
I know great horses live again.”
- Stanley Harrison
By Mary Cour Burrows

Magic had the biggest heart. I wasn’t aware of this when I first started riding him, and if you told me about everything he would accomplish, I may have laughed.

I was searching for a fancy new Warmblood or draft cross, the opposite of the scrawny three-year-old Quarter Horse with the ironic name of Magic that I had borrowed in the meantime. Hunt season was around the corner and my arthritic old mare wasn’t up to the task. I needed a horse and settled on Magic. Sometimes you marry the boyfriend instead of waiting around for Mr. Right.

Years went by, and I discovered Magic was Mr. Right – a horse with the best work ethic and can-do spirit. Anything I asked of him was met with an enthusiastic response. And we tried a great many things.

We whipped-in for Wildlife Manor Hounds at Twin Hill Ranch, helping corral the hounds and assisting with the fox hunt. Magic loved to road the hounds, an exercise involving keeping the pack together as we rode at a controlled trot. When one hound broke, he would be after it before I knew what happened. He enjoyed packing-in the hounds so much that when I couldn’t ride, Magic would follow along on his own.

Magic competed in a couple of endurance rides, earning top-ten finishes. He competed in hunter classes, timed jumper classes, and competitive trail competitions. Trick trained, he could smile, bow, shake yes or no, and raise his legs to “dance” on command. 

Magic was an ideal Pony Club horse. Calm and cooperative, he endured bandaging demonstrations, lunging lessons, and conformation classes. He even allowed a raucous group of teenaged tumblers to use him as a vaulting horse. He took one pony clubber through her C2 rating, exceeding standards in every category.

Magic helped me fulfill one of my bucket list items: to ride my own horse on the beach. We travelled to a scenic state park in Florida that allowed horses on its shores. I can't truthfully say he was fond of the ocean. Those menacing waves and thunderous surf were a bit overwhelming to an unsophisticated Quarter Horse from Tennessee!

Unlike our saltwater adventures, Magic came more quickly to the idea of eventing. We competed all over the region in the Novice division, almost always bringing home ribbons. 

The eventing led me to dressage – a riding discipline this bareback-larking, wanna-be-cowgirl fell head-over-heels for! I was completely intimidated when I entered my first dressage show with all the fancy Warmbloods bouncing around the arena. Here was my little Magic, with his downhill build and wrong-for-dressage pedigree. Up in the saddle, I nervously bent down, asking him once more to do his best. Long story short, we came away with the high score (adult amateur) at our very first show.

I learned about dressage along with Magic. I found a trainer who believed in me and my Quarter Horse, and I set my sights on an audacious goal: earning a USDF Bronze medal. This entailed earning two scores above 60% at First, Second, and Third level at a recognized show. We qualified and competed at several regional competitions, winning awards for high point Quarter Horse from the AQHA for First Level at our first regional show. The first time out at Third Level, we got the scores we needed, and claimed our bronze medal. This earned Magic his nickname: “The Little Quarter Horse That Could.”

I loved riding in musical freestyle, once performing a routine featuring bluegrass music from O Brother Where Art Thou. This was the first time yodeling was incorporated into a USDF competition!

Magic could perform many upper-level dressage movements, including piaffe, passage, and pirouette. He could do two-tempi lead changes (changing canter-leads every other stride) and was schooling one-tempis.

Magic died last month from founder. It came on hard and severe, much worse than we anticipated. His coffin bones rotated, an infection set in, and his hoof capsule released from the coffin bone causing him excruciating pain. After weeks of treatment, I decided that the kindest thing to do was to let him go. He had been down in his stall for days and it was obvious that he wasn’t getting better.

In one great final effort, Magic struggled to his feet and slowly hobbled out to a shady spot in the field near our barn, a place where I had pictured him being buried. He did it on his own, without any prompting or pressure. After we all said our goodbyes, his veterinarian helped end his painful struggle and eased him into greener pastures.

Sometimes we’re fortunate to have horses in our lives with whom we truly share a connection, who learn with us and grow with us, and manage to help us do more than anyone dreamed possible. 

Whenever I think of Magic, I’ll remember his good-natured temperament and his can-do spirit; his willingness to please and his incredible versatility.  I’ll remember his quiet resolve and the confident way he met every challenge. Magic always tried to do his job no matter what that job might be. He had the biggest heart.

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