Endings and Beginnings


Today being New Year’s Day, we find ourselves looking forward with hope.  Wise folks tell say looking back is a waste of time.  I disagree.  Reflecting fondly and taking time to mourn those we have lost is sweet sorrow.  It adds beautiful layers to our lives.

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal. Albert Pike

I was struggling all night with how to tell our community about yesterday’s  loss of Fran, one of our schoolmasters.  Loss is so different for each family and I never know how each individual child, how each volunteer and each friend will process the  large loss of a wonderful school horse.  This quote brought it home for me.

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” Albert Pike

And who embodies this more than a school horse and in particular our friend Fran?

In many ways, Fran was a Square Peg.  He was goofy, he was often spooky.  His overlarge eyes bulged  from his thin head, his terrible feet (his undoing) looked like puddles that leaked from his stovepipe legs. He had a weak back, a rough trot and a neck like a giraffe. He cribbed furiously. He was useless on the trail.   He would fall madly in love with any mare you put next to him and he’d pine desperately if she went away.  He couldn’t be turned out with the other geldings because he would be so far at the bottom of the pecking order we didn’t think he’d survive.

To us, he was beloved and perfect.

He had quirks too.  If you didn’t give him time to roll before a lesson, he might drop to the ground with a child on his back and give a roll in the best school saddle.  Before you put a bit in his mouth, you had to wait while he yawned not once, but twice.  Every. Single. Time.  He didn’t do tricks, you couldn’t swing a polo mallet on him.

I think it was his goofiness and his insecurity that made him such a favorite around here.  He was  awkward and so sweet, you simply loved him. He repaid you with affection and gave you everything he had. He was our best horse in drivelines- his janky trot was a joy to some of the ASD kids who loved the rhythmic jolting. Conversely, his canter was so smooth and slow that even if he bucked, the kids stayed on.  For no physical reason, he could jump and he loved it.  But get one iota in front of him to a jump and he was guaranteed to stop.  Nobody taught you how to sit up to a fence like Franny.

On his last day, he ate carrots and cookies until I thought he would burst.  I told his cadre of adoring teens that they could stay with him until the vet came and then they would have to say goodbye and leave.  I told them that it would serve no purpose for them to be there when Greg, Dr. Cloninger and I did what had to be done.  They agreed and hugged and kissed him while the vet parked.  The girls had no sooner driven out the gate when Fran collapsed.  I know in my heart that he stayed upright for them. I think he did it for me and for Greg also.  He let us know that it really was time.  It was a kindness so profound and so selfless it leaves me breathless.

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” Albert Pike

Dear Franny – thank you for the ride – it was a good one.


Racing name: Fran’s Playboy. Show name: Hurricane Fran. Barn name: Frannoid. Role: Friend to all. Died 12.31.12 age @ 21


9 Replies to “Endings and Beginnings”

  1. Farewell sweet soul.

    Every blade in the field –
    Every leaf in the forest –
    lays down its life
    in its season
    as beautifully as it was taken up.

    – Thoreau

  2. I am so sorry that Fran died and he was a great horse. Fran loved everyone. everyone liked going on Fran. I am going to miss Fran forever . love Kristina

  3. I didn’t know Fran but I do know what it is like to lose a much loved person (horse, dog, or human). I am sorry for the loss of what must be a great spirit. Your story touched me.
    Nan Humbel
    mgr Morning Star Ranch, Moss Beach

  4. I’ve only been with Square Peg for a little under a year and I’ve already really felt connected with all the horses. Although I never got to spend much time with Fran, I will always think back to the quiet, lazy summer afternoon when I fed him lots and lots of carrots. I could almost see that goofy smile dancing on the edges of his soft muzzle. Rest in peace Fran, we love and miss you. Love, Kristin

  5. Regrettably, I did not establish a strong personal bond with Fran, but I had the honor of interacting with him regularly. Each horse at Square Peg fills my heart with love for different reasons. Fran filled my heart with love because he reminded me of many kids I know and love; kids that may appear awkward, but have so much to offer the world and the people around them. I know that Fran’s role at Square Peg extended far beyond just teaching kids how to ride.

  6. I have many images in my memory of the time my daughter Sofia had with Fran – the challenges, the smiles from another day learning all that such a wonderful horse had to give, the spills, the beautiful sun on the Half Moon Bay ridges…the sound of his patient hoofbeats. It’s deeply moving to read the tributes from Joell, Rachel and others who knew him best and loved him so profoundly. God Bless them.

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