Bandit, the greatest
and my horse!
picked him out for me.
He is great!
Bandit is a big, strong mountain horse, loves to
run up mountains. He also enjoys his food. He
trusts me completely, never gives any trouble,
especially if you let him lead, which is fine
with me. I like to lead, too. We're very
You see him below on the pasture in
and with his
girlfriend, Beate's horse
a real sweetie. Although Bandit is officially a gelding, he
likes his mares ...
In the fall of 2002 I wrote
this ballad while going up Pyramid Pass for the last time
In the summer of 2006 Bandit developed a bad colic and almost
died. He had surgery in the nick of time, and while he was
recuperating, I bought my second horse,
Pictures of Bandit are below.
On June 5, 2009 Bandit died. This is
the e-mail I sent to my friends:
this morning from a colic at age 22.
walked out this morning, he was thrashing and rolling on the
ground, obviously in terrible pain. We gave him Banamine, orally
and intravenously. It helped briefly, but we could not keep him
friend, the vet, who is our neighbor came and gave him narcotic
painkillers. Bandit calmed down but still could not stand. His
stomach kept bloating, and his gums were turning pale. It was
clear that we could not trailer him to Missoula, and that even
if we tried, there was nothing they would be able to do.
staggered to his feet twice, only to collapse again: first when
I called the other horses to come in from the pasture. He got to his feet
thinking he needed to lead his herd in and then went down again.
The second time when we lead Dancee to him, his inseparable
companion for 15 years to say goodbye. He got up one more time,
took a couple of steps towards her and then took a mouthful of
grass, as if to say: ďItís OK, eat something and go on.Ē Then he
fell down again, and that was the last time Bandit was on his
It became clear
what we needed to do. Tanya gave him enough narcotics to calm
him down, and I had a chance to lie next him, with my head on
his body, telling him all the things I wanted to say: how much I
loved him, how much he had meant to me, how deeply I would miss him, crying helplessly,
saying goodbye to him.
when we let the horses out, Bandit ran out ahead of them as
usual, with lots of energy, bucking and kicking, the picture of
exuberant life. It does not seem fair; it goes so quickly.
Bandit was a
magnificent creature; everyone who knew him agreed. He was a
noble, proud horse with majestic carriage and an aura of peace,
tranquility and wisdom. He was the leader of the herd, and he
ran it with calm authority and no violence. The occasional bite
was never deep, only intended as a reminder when needed.
There are many
Bandit stories, far too many to tell. At one time Sharon (our
neighbor who keeps our horses during winter) came home, and our
and her herd had got mixed up in a corral, and there was great
tumult, excitement and running about. Then she saw that at the
corner of the corral were the two yearlings belonging to her
herd, standing against the fence with Bandit in front of them.
He had herded them into the corner out of harmís way and was
standing in front of them to shield them from the chaos. There
are many other stories of Bandit protecting horses at risk, too
many to tell.
He and I were
completely bonded, practically telepathic; we each knew what the
other wanted or was about to do often without visible
communication, and we trusted each other totally. The teenage
daughter of a friend paid me what I thought was the ultimate
compliment; she said: ďYou on Bandit, it looks like itís one,
One time Bandit
and I ended up caught in barbed wire that was lying on the
ground, a very dangerous situation with a horse. I told him not
to move, got off and lifted each of his feet until we were clear
of the wire; he stood perfectly still the entire time. Bandit
was playful; he loved to nuzzle me and unsnap the flashlight on
my belt, but he always knew when a situation was critical, and
then he was totally focused on what I needed from him.
Bandit and I
were together each summer for the last 15 years. We went on
countless rides, loving every minute of them. Our favorite ride
was a trip through the Danaher Valley in the Bob Marshall
Wilderness. We would ride for a whole day, traveling through
forests, prairies, up mountainsides and through wetland. We had
our favorite stretches where we would love to run at top speed.
I didnít have to tell Bandit; he knew when to take off.
follow me around wherever I went, and he would always come to me
when I called him. I would walk out on the pasture with his
halter, call his name, and he would come and give me his head so
I could halter him, hoping we would go for a ride. He would
tolerate it when I petted another horse, but not for long. After
a few minutes he would walk over and his authority was such that
the other horse would retreat. Banditís message was clear: "You can
hang out with Klaus briefly, but make no mistake: heís mine!"
imagine walking over to the corral from hereon and not seeing
that black face with the white spot hanging over the fence,
waiting for me and hoping for a pellet. Bandit would always get
the first and the last pellet I gave out.
The horses in
the coral are quiet and depressed. Their respected leader is
gone, and they are mourning, quite clearly.
Those of you
who have known me for a while will understand what happened this
morning. Bandit wasnít just a horse, he was the horse.
Beate said that when I would get really upset or depressed she
had a secret trick to get me out of it: she would bring up
Bandit, and no matter what mood I was in, it would invariable
bring a warm smile to my face. It is impossible to describe how
much Bandit meant to me. He wasnít just a horse; he was like an
equine deity who had come to earth to teach me about horses and
love and spirituality. He will remain in my heart forever.
devastated; when Tanya gave Bandit his final injection while I
gently stroked his head, a piece of me died with him. Now he
lies dead in the pasture, a blanket over him. My sorrow knows no
end. I still canít believe itís true; I hope to wake up any
minute from a terrible nightmare.
Sharon, who keeps our horses when
we're not in Montana, wrote this:
Memory of Bandit
Today all the horses in
heaven lifted their heads at the sound of hoof beats
carried on the breeze. They looked anxiously into the
distance trying to see who was joining their ranks. They
could tell by the Lordís reaction that this was someone
special, someone who was to be greatly missed on Earth,
someone whose heart was pure and strong.
Soon they could see a
gleaming black horse walk up and rest his muzzle in the
Lordís hands as if to say ďI am here Lord. I heard your
call.Ē The Lord was pleased with this magnificent
animal, gently stroked his ebony neck, and smiled as he
motioned for him to go and join the others in heavenís
The other great horses
trotted out to meet Bandit as he made his way across the
green meadow. They greeted him with necks bowed and
nostrils wide. So this was the great Bandit about whom
they had heard so much. The black horse
whose heart was devoted to his master and to his herd.
They had all been waiting to meet him and to welcome
him. Once the leaders of the herd understood that they
were in the presence of greatness, a horse whose heart
was pure and full of devotion they stepped back in honor
and let him pass.
Instinctively Bandit moved
through the herd to locate the mares and foals. They had
been waiting for this guardian and he knew his job.
Shyly the mares came up and touched Bandit with their
muzzles in greeting while the foals hung back wide eyed
with awe and curiosity. They had been told of a great
gleaming black horse who
would be their champion and protector, and now he
was here in their midst. The black horse had an aura of
peace and tranquility and wisdom that put the mares
instantly at ease. Slowly they began to drop their heads
to graze the grass that blew in the gentle breeze.
Bandit approached the foals with his head low gently
nudging them to go back to their mothers. Eventually,
some lay down to sleep in the warm sunshine safe in the
knowledge that their guardian was there to watch over
I loved him and miss him
too. I hope your memories will give you comfort in the
days to come.