This is Tandri the Mighty Icelandic horse.
He was my friend and companion, and an integral part of my life, for eleven years.
He was loving, annoying, cheeky, adventurous, timid, importunate, endearing, exasperating, and lovable - all wrapped up in one treasured, matchless package.
I bought him in 2007, when he was five years old and barely broken to the saddle.
It took us years to learn how to be a harmonious horse-and-rider team, but on the ground, we developed an almost instantaneous accord.
He taught me to reward him with treats when he fetched his feed bucket for me, and in turn, I taught him to mirror my movements in a happy little dance.
He could also play ball, do the compliment, and pull a blanket from his back like a proper circus pony.
The one word that described him best was "restless".
He was easily bored, and even more easily diverted.
He could drive his people to distraction with his unceasing demands for attention - and he did the same to his herd-mates, resulting in a series of increasingly serious injuries caused by fights with other horses.
Tandri never lost his enthusiasm for annoying people and horses, though. And when we separated him from the herd, he got so agitated that we soon relented, and let him join his friends again.
Here's a (not-quite-fictional) story Tandri told me in spring 2016, after he got kicked in the knee and lost one of the tendons keeping his kneecap in place:
Hi there, human! My name is Tandri, and I have a secret to tell you.
Oh! Is that a carrot I smell there in your pocket? I'm sure that is a carrot. Do you need that carrot? No? Thank you, you're the best.
Where was I? Oh yes, my secret.
Did you know there are dangerous demons in this world--demons that specialize in tormenting horses? There are lots of them around.
Some of them are fairly harmless. All they do is hide behind trees and under discarded plastic bags, only to jump out and shock any unsuspecting horse that happens by. Oh, and they love hiding in umbrellas, too. Especially umbrellas.
Wah! Do you see that? That's one of them! Will you mind very much if I hide behind you?
Yes, well, about those demons. Like I said, the ones like this one over there--you do see it, don't you? I'll just keep hiding behind you for a little while longer.
So. Those ones just delight in scaring us. Not that they succeed. If you lead the way, I'm quite ready to go investigate that one now. I'll just snort a bit, and build myself up and carry my head
high like this--that scares them away.
Look, it's gone now. I routed it!
Oh, do you have to leave already? But I haven't told you the rest of my big secret!
All right, some other time, then.
"Hey, little horse, see that wasp over there? Go investigate it. Not only are you so very bored and the wasp makes such interesting noises--I promise you wasps are edible, and they taste heavenly."
High, nice to see you again. Did you bring a carrot for me? Thank you.
Those demons I told you about the other day? Some of them attach themselves to individual horses. Three of them are sitting right there on my withers, do you see them? They whisper to me.
Ow, don't touch my lip. Yes, I know it's swollen. No, I don't want you to put ointment on it, it hurts.
So you can't ride me with my mouth swollen like that? Oh, that's quite all right. Come on, let's go for a walk instead, and explore the world together.
And by the way, did you know wasps taste terrible?
"Go play with that friendly gelding over there. He wants to play, you know he does--even if he pretends otherwise."
He kicked me! I only bit his rump to motivate him to play -- no more than four or five times, I assure you! -- and he kicked me in the knee! They said he was friendly, and he wasn't, not at all. They lied to me!
No, actually, I'd rather not go for a walk right now. In fact, if you don't mind, I think I'll just stand right here for a bit and not move that leg at all. Can you stay me with me for a while? You may hug me, and scratch behind my ear, yes, right there. And do you happen to have a carrot on you? I could use one right now.
Thank you. That helps a bit.
"It's spring, you know. Perfect for running, and they're keeping you locked up in this boring stall. It's really quite cruel, the way they're forbidding you to run."
Hey, there you are again. Yes, I'm more than ready for a walk today.
No, my knee doesn't hurt at all. Let's go! Oh, look, doesn't that grass over there look so very green? Let's just break into a trot and go there, why don't we?
Oh, you don't want to trot? Are you quite sure? Come on, don't be a bore!
All right, all right. We'll walk. But only because you ask so nicely.
On the other hand ... You know, today is such a fine spring day, just perfect for a good run.
What do you mean, my knee isn't healed yet. What do I care what the vet says, when it's such a great day for a run?
Let go of me, don't try to stop me! See you later!
Huff. Huff. There ... huff ... you are. Huff! What kept you?
No, no, I haven't torn another tendon in my knee. Why would I?
Oh, I haven't told you about the guardian angels, have I? They attach themselves to us, just like the demons do. I've got seven of them. See them over there sitting on that fence, watching?
No, of course I don't keep them very busy. Why do you ask?
On Saturday, May 12th 2018, Tandri gave his overworked guardian angels one challenge too many, and his luck ran out.
Now he gallops over the ever green meadows of horse afterlife. More (wholly-fictional) stories of his adventures with his ghostly horse-buddies may follow, as the mood strikes me.