I’ve been around horses all my life. Because horses are time consuming and expensive to keep, especially in Los Angeles, many horses are passed from hand to hand never knowing the joy of being deeply loved. The lucky ones become beloved family members with twinkles in their eyes and goof-ball personalities.
Casino won the equine lottery when he was in his mid-teens. He was a copper-colored OTTB (off-the-track Thoroughbred) who was a passed from hand to hand and never trained well enough to be a riding horse. His luck changed when beautiful African American woman named Jade fell hopelessly in love with him.
I met Jade and Casino while riding my own dream horse in the in the hills of Griffith Park, an oasis smack-dab in the middle of the city. Jade was on foot, leading her horse along the tree-lined trail known as Oak Canyon. Casino was too much horse for his first-time horse owner. So, for the first three years, Jade didn’t ride Casino. Instead, she chose to take him on long walks and turned him loose in the public arena where he could kick up his heels and run.
Slowly, the way all good relationships grow, they learned to trust each other and Jade became my trail-riding buddy. A few people stand out as being exceptionally loving horse owners, Jade is one of them. Their horse/human bond was the stuff of middle-grade novels, so I worried about Jade when it was clear the Casino was nearing the end of his life. A few months after Casino’s 30th birthday party the inevitable we feared came to pass.
There’s a beautiful tradition at horse boarding stables, when a horse dies, friends leave bouquets of flowers, potted plants and cards in the empty stall. It’s a haunting and heartbreaking sight. But, for Jade flowers weren't enough. I wanted to create a memorial she would treasure for years to come.
Jade loves my Anam Caras art. So, I decided to make her print of Casino’s Anam Cara Candra and I wrote a blessing from Candra to Jade. I then incorporated the text into the design of the artwork. Here it is:
I am Casino’s Anam Cara, Candra. I am here on behalf of your beloved copper steed to comfort your broken heart and nourish your soul. Know that he is well. I will guide you and protect you for the rest of your days.
May Casino’s spirit dwell in the hearts of those he touched.