ROWAN by Nick Warhol
Rowan is my first horse. This animal single handedly changed the entire course of my life. In 1990 I met Jean Schreiber through her son, and she helped me find and buy my wife Judy’s first horse: Warpaint the wonder appaloosa. I had no intention of owning a horse, but after discovering what they were, I realized I needed one. Jean found my first horse for me as well- a sixteen year old Arabian Gelding named Rowan. Just Rowan- I liked that he didn’t have one of those wild, fancy names. He’s a dark bay with black points and has absolutely no white on his body except for a little star on his forehead. He’s a long, lean thing, looking a little like a sausage. His grandfather is the legendary stallion Fadjur, which at the time meant nothing to me, since all I knew about horses was they had four legs. I started riding Rowie on the trails with the intent of doing endurance riding. His pr! ior owners had done a few rides on him, making him more experienced than me. I got him in shape and did my first four 50 mile rides on him before he had to stop due to some lameness issues in his front legs. That was fine -- he was almost eighteen when we did our first ride.
Looking back now, it’s so easy to see why I love riding so much. Rowie taught me how to do it. He was a superb trail horse- always full of go with no bad habits at all -- none. I had no idea at the time how wonderful he was -- I figured they were all just like this. Not hardly! So many people were always having problems of all kinds- not me. I was lucky enough to be able to learn how to ride on a perfect horse. Not a bad thing at all. It was very depressing to have to retire him from endurance rides just as I was getting started, but it was for the best, since I’d be able to have him around longer.
He’s still with me today- he will be 32 in a few weeks. Thirty two! It’s hard to believe. His back is all droopy, he has no teeth left, he can’t move around like he used to be able to, but he’s still the same old Rowan. I take him for walks- he pulls me up the driveway with his ears forward and his tail up, wanting to trot up, like he did in his younger days. We get to the top and he drops his head, huffing and puffing a little. Whew! Those lungs are just not the same as before. He still gives me that same bubbah sound when I bring him his goodies; I have been hearing that same sound now for sixteen years. He still likes hanging with his long time buddy Warpaint, but the Appy would mow him over to get Rowie’s food, since all he eats now is warm mash with lots of tasty senior stuff all mixed together.
He has given us a scare a time or two lately- he’s getting old. How old is too old? I don’t know, but he’s still happy and healthy right now, and that’s all that matters. It’s hard for me to contemplate my future without him, but I’m okay with that, because he has given me a life I could not be happier with. Thanks to this horse, I have found an activity unlike anything I have ever done before. All I want to do is ride a horse, as long and as far as I can. The world of endurance riding has been my calling- I’m so immersed in it that I have pretty much dedicated myself to it. I’m coming up on 7000 miles, I’m on the AERC board of directors, I’m a ride manager, I’m involved with supporting endurance at the international level, but most importantly, I do every ride I can get my saddle to. Because that’s all I want to do, for the rest of my life, a! s long as I can get up on the back of a horse. I told someone last month at the Death Valley ride that life is pretty good, since right then, at that moment, on the top of the world, up there with my new horse Don, that there was nowhere else in the entire world I would have rather been at that time. That’s a good thing when you can achieve that in your lifetime. I owe it all to Jean and Rowan. How do you say thank you for something like that?