Missi & George. All photos courtesy Annie Kat Photography, AnnieKatPhotography.com……

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Missi Spiker and her beloved “George” have made a mark on the hearts of thousands of horse lovers. Their “goodbye” photo shoot has been loved, shared and cried over. 

Missi Grew up riding and continues to live on a farm outside Manhattan, Kansas with her young family. Her beloved George, a kill pen rescue horse, had become inseparable over the years. Then the time came to say goodbye. No goodbye is every easy, but for every horsewoman, saying goodbye to your best friend is a loss like no other. To send George off beloved and remembered, Missi teamed up with photographer Annie Compton for a truly unforgettable experience. 

Missi shared her experience and George’s story with us, and we will be sure to hug our horses close tonight. Read Missi’s full interview below. 

Tell us about George.

George was actually a kill pen rescue horse. I saw his kind eyes and knew his gentle soul did not belong there. He was a one of a kind horse. The kind of horse anyone could ride. I took one look at him in that kill lot and knew that through the tangled mane, mud, and tears- he was coming home with me. I paid for him based on his weight. It was the most unusual amount I have ever paid for a horse: $787.82, but he became priceless.  I used him as a “husband horse”. A horse for my beginner friends to come ride and a horse I could throw little kids on and I knew they would be safe. He was bombproof and I trusted him more than I trust most people.  

What was your favorite experience with George?

 I loved riding him, but honestly, my favorite times were watching him teach young/beginner riders. He would just put his head down and calmly do whatever they wanted to. George enjoyed the attention and I am a firm believer that all horses should be loved by a little girl at least once in their lifetime. He was also VERY smart. It was always fun to watch him figure things out like latches and barn doors.

What inspired you to do this specific shoot? 

I had actually posted in a Facebook group for some suggestions on the best way to put him down, how to help my other horses cope with the loss, body disposal, and I wanted to know how other individuals have commemorated their lost heart horses. A few individuals suggested a photoshoot. I knew I would cry (I had been crying for months at the thought of putting him down) so I made sure to forewarn the photographer, Annie, of what she was about to get into.

What emotions did you experience during the shoot? 

Have you ever felt your heart collapse or shatter completely? If you have experienced losing a horse, I am sure you know the feeling. It takes your breath away and makes your legs weak. Saying goodbye is never easy. These animals protect us and they trust us to protect them. The shoot was very difficult for me- to be that open and vulnerable, but I am so thankful I did it. I love the photos and the memory of him. In some of the photos, he was kissing my face and getting slobber all over me, even in his last days he had a way of lighting up my world with laughter.

Moving forward, how has George changed you? 

George lived to be 37 years old because he never stopped playing. His last days he lived out in a field with a four year old Warmblood and a six year old TB. George was always showing those boys how to have a good time while remaining respectful. He was inspiring and I hope that I live to be an impressive age and still know how to have fun.

He was also their leader, not because he demanded it or was hateful, he just lead by example.  The other horses loved him and followed him willingly. I think we all could learn to be more like George.  

As a final remark, Missi shared, “When in doubt, always buy the horse- Your heart will be full even if your bank account is empty.”