Duke was a good horse. It takes about a year before a horse and a rider get to know one another. Within our first year I learned what he didn't like and he learned what I didn't like and we accommodated one another ever since. I trusted him to take his time and familiarize himself with his environment. He trusted me to go where ever I asked; be it into a horse trailer, through a river or over a bridge. On rare occasions he'd look back at me like he wanted to say, "Are you shitting me? Really? You want me to do that?" I'd loosen the reins and let him have his head and tell him it was OK and he would go where ever I asked.
Duke and I had an understanding. He'd come when I called him. I always spent a lot of time talking to him. I chattered to him every time I cleaned his pen and every time I fed him. I talk to him every time I put him out or brought him in for the night.
Sure, he had his faults, like all horses. He didn't like other geldings, he tried to be the alpha horse when he was with other horses, he'd try to bite you if you messed with his mouth or cinched him up too quickly and he test or misbehave with other who tried riding him. However, for me there was trust and I never pushed him further than he should have gone.
Duke was arthritic. He was that way when I got him several years ago. I treated him with an anti-inflammatory before and after rides. He was always willing to go out for another ride. I think he enjoyed getting out into the open. Lately I noticed his head dip when he walked on his left front leg. Then he started no being able to bear weight on that leg when I lifter the opposite foot for cleaning. I know he'd never be able to stand for a hoof cleaning or a trimming again. It was time.
Our vet came out and put him down yesterday. He went quickly and peacefully. If any mythology is true, maybe we'll ride together again one day.