1. The Intro Horse.
We each came into horses in our own way, but it was always with a horse leading us. This might have been a friend’s first pony, or perhaps it was a draft horse on a farm you once visited It might have been a real-life meeting, or an imaginary one.
Rocky. One of our local farriers (let me take a moment to point out that in a very rural area we have not one, not two, but SIX farriers and one barefoot trimmer) has daughters around my age. My earliest real memories of riding were of this farrier leading me up the mountain and back on his little Rocky pony. When we got back to the field he'd let me tool around on my own some. I have fleeting memories of trying to get Rocky to trot and thinking we were going SO FAST. In reality, we may only have been walking faster. Its hard to say. Perhaps my love of bays is because of this guy.
2. The Experimental Horse
Once you had crossed the line between “Darn, they’re big!” and “Wow! Can I try that?” you found yourself face-to-face with the horse that would suffer through your early attempts at figuring out the whole horse experience … wherever this horse came from, he probably didn’t benefit from the encounter as much as you did.
|Was I focused or what?!|
Deemo. This Arab (cross?) started my lasting love for Arabs. His owner was a high schooler in an adjacent county that I first met when she had a 3-day horse "camp" for me and her two neighbor girls. I continued riding with her about once a week for the next year or two. Almost always on the trails. She'd lead and I was expected to follow. She knew I knew how to stop the horse, so I was expected to rate my own speed when she walked, trotted, and cantered. I had a lot to figure out following her around the WV woods. Deemo was a great babysitter.
3. The Connected Horse
The first horses we meet don’t really connect with us, nor do we with them. Those are experiences in survival and tests of endurance. The Connected Horse is the first horse you truly bond with. This is the horse that sounds a chord that lives so deep in you that you might never have heard it otherwise.
Stan. He was tasked to me because I'd gone through all the other horses in the barn without issue. Little did I know he'd evolve into a completely different horse around me versus everyone else. I still hold a special place in my heart for this guy and dream of one day buying him. Right now he's a happy pasture puff because his owners don't often ride and I've got two of my own.
4. The Challenger
Into each horseperson’s life, a little challenge must fall. You’ll have read that one final training book, bought yourself a clicker and heading rope, and there you’ll stand, arms crossed, assessing the situation as if you actually knew what the situation was. It might be difficult to believe, as you are flying down the aisleway on the losing end of a braided cotton line, but you actually need this horse in your life.
Q. I've never dealt with a mare so much before. For as much as she is a saint, she is also equally a spazz. Learning her personality has taken well over a year and I still don't even think I've figured her out completely. She's been slow to share everything with me. I know she's very talented and capable of many things, but she's very sensitive to criticism which has made for a hard time on my part getting to know her better. While I've never been aggressive with her, I know that even yelling at her can shatter her trust in me at any given moment. She's taught me more than any other horse how to keep my cool at all times and look at situations completely objectively. Am I always successful in this endeavor? No. I'm human. But her teachings have brought me a long way. Honestly, this horse has done far more for me than I've done for her at this point - if you disregard the whole me buying her to prevent her from going to auction thing.
5. Your Deepest Heart
There will come a time when you will look at yourself with a cold, appraising eye, and you’ll have to be honest about your continued ability to deal with The Challenger and other difficult horses. At that point, you’ll seek out the horse that will be your soul mate forever… You’ll have bought him the most comfortable, best fitting equipment… Maybe you’ll still go to shows and ride – brilliantly or barely – in the Alzheimer’s class. Maybe you’ll just stay home. Whatever you do, one day you’ll realize that after all the money you spent on animal communicators and trainers, you only had to stop and listen and you would have clearly heard your horse’s thoughts and desires.
I don't truly know that I've come across this horse yet. I've been fortunate to have a life blessed with many horse teachers, but thus far, few of them have been in my life long enough for me to come to the conclusion that they are my heart horse. I love Griffin and Q dearly, but we've only known each other for a year and a half and a year, respectively. Q is the focused worker, Griffin is the lovebug who will do anything to please me. Time will tell if one or both become my heart horse. Griffin has potential to reach this place, I think, but he's only 3 (in 10 days). Our relationship has been restricted to certain things and only in one location so far. We'll see how life evolves as the years track on.
Other memorable horses who have been featured on this blog:
Orion was the first horse I formally owned. He was bred as a 4-H project. He was never registered, but could be within the APHA. He had no spots.
Orion was a free horse. I'd hoped he would be my endurance prospect. Alas, while I knew how to take care of a horse and how to train a horse, I was woefully behind on my understanding of conformation. This guy just didn't have it and would never have it. We got along well enough, but there was never a *spark* there. After a tendon injury from routine work (on a day when I'd merely upped the speed of our workouts to include more cantering), and a month of rehab, I sold Orion to a friend who clicks much more with him. He's fat, sassy, and happy. Couldn't have asked for a better ending to our brief time together, all things considered.
Pegasus was a 3 year old colt I trained the summer I had Orion. My first training prospect with the only goal of being good under saddle. He had a lot of potential, but it just didn't work out because of his living situation.
He'd never ever been apart from his mother. Ever. I could work him for 15-20 minutes with great results, but then he would go into a fit because he wasn't with his mom. His mother would call manically from the pasture the moment I took him from her, so that didn't help either. I did get him under saddle though. And, on one of the hottest days of one of the hottest summers to date, we did manage to get some proof that the whole "under saddle" goal could be achieved.
For even more history on my life with horses...click here to navigate to an old entry I wrote with photos of them all.