Friday, October 22, 2010

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Dawn and I have been doing some nice walking rides - she's brimming with energy and I think delighted to be working again.  She's getting a day off after the farrier this morning, and we may get one more ride in on Saturday if it's not raining, and then she'll get a few days of rest while I'm off on what I'm calling the great horse search road trip adventure.  When I get back, we can start adding trot work back in so long as she stays sound with increasing work.

Yesterday I slipped on Dawn bareback, as I didn't have much time to ride, and we did a few moments in the arena.  Then Misty and her owner came out for a bit of lungeing - I think that Misty's owner hasn't ridden her in over a year and has barely done anything with her - she's not that secure or confident a rider and I think is a little worried about riding - she's come off Misty a few times on the trail.  It was good to see them out, and Misty was very well-behaved, just walking and trotting around as nice as can be.  Dawn and I had left the arena in the event galloping or explosions were coming, and we saw Sugar and her owner starting down the trail.  Dawn very clearly asked "can we go too?", and even turned her head to one side and then the other to look directly at me - she often does this when she's asking a question or is looking for reassurance.  So we went a bit down the trail with Sugar - we would have gone farther if I'd had a saddle (for security in the case of sideways teleportation, spins or bolts), but it was very chilly and windy and not the best day for a bigger trail attempt while riding bareback.  We rode next to Sugar - Dawn is fine leading but will kick any horse that gets in her (very large) bubble from behind, and if we follow Sugar tends to balk.  Side by side works, although at anything more than a walk Dawn will often kick at the horse next to her.  (She's one of those horses who needs a red tail ribbon in the warm-up or show ring.)  I was sorry we didn't have a saddle as it would have been fun to push the limits a bit as I think Dawn's trust in me is growing.

* * * * * *
So, my trip for the great horse road trip adventure is set - I'll be seeing Peppy (horse #20) on Sunday afternoon, and then Pie (horse #12) on Monday morning and River (horse #10) on Monday afternoon.  Then I'll know what I've got, or not.  I'm looking forward to the trip (although not the driving down the interstate) - I've enjoyed talking to these three sellers on the phone and will certainly enjoy meeting them and their horses in person.

I know what I'm trying to recapture with my new horse - that special feeling of "this horse and I can do anything" that I had when I was young.  I've been thinking a lot about a very special horse I had from the time I was 14 or so until I was 17, when we moved and my parents wouldn't let me take the horse with me.  The horse was a cremello mare that I called Snow.  I don't have any pictures of her here, although there is at least one at my parent's house that I should snag sometime.  She looked like this - this is a photo of another cremello (although, looking at the jaw, this may be a stallion):

She was absolutely bright white all over, with the pink skin and blue eyes that go with the color.  I have no idea of her age or if she was registered or not, but she was clearly a QH.  We got her at a run-down stable out in the country, and as soon as she came to the (also very run-down) barn where we kept her, she promptly developed strangles.  She recovered, and she was my special companion for several years.  I rode her bareback, I rode her Western, I rode her English.  She would go in a hackamore, a snaffle or a curb - she didn't care and was always responsive. We did little horse shows where she cleaned up in the pleasure classes as well as the gaming classes.  We went on lots of trail rides - she'd go anywhere at any speed I asked.  Her only odd trait was that she'd paw and try to roll if you took her into water.  She clearly had had some reining training - she could do some amazing sliding stops and roll backs.  I taught her to jump - she was happy to do that too and could easily clear 3'6".  She was laid back but energetic when asked - the perfect mix.

Part of this was Snow and part of it was my complete confidence that she would do anything I asked. These past several days, as I've been thinking about riding other horses, I've even been remembering how it felt to ride her and what the view was through her white ears - these memories are very vivid even though they're from 40 years ago.  Noble, my old QH who died this summer, was often the same - he was always willing and always available, and a complete delight to ride, although a somewhat more nervous horse than Snow.  But no matter how nervous he was, he would always do what I asked - I took him on trail rides and we even did a bit of jumping although he was too old at 17 to do much of that.  He loved to run, was extremely fast and would eagerly race other horses if given the chance, but would slow and stop when requested.  Here's my favorite picture of him, from two years ago:

It's been a bit of a hard year in my horse world - with Noble's death at age 30 in July and Maisie's permanent retirement this fall.  But I'm feeling encouraged - I think, either now or next spring there's a new horse waiting for me who will give me the opportunity to recapture some of those youthful feelings.  In the meantime, and after I get the new horse, I need to continue to ride Dawn as if she were the horse I want and expect her to be - calm, confident and my partner (although always my younger daughter's horse first).  The more I do this, the more Dawn becomes that horse as the strength of our partnership grows.  I'm hoping to take both Dawn and the new horse, whoever he or she turns out to be, to the Mark Rashid clinic in Wisconsin next May - I've got two slots in the clinic reserved already - it's a whole winter and months away, but I'm already pretty excited about that!


  1. Your description of Snow reminds me of one of the horses from my youth, Jack. That boy could do it all... we jumped, did dressage, reining, barrels, pleasure, showmanship, and even driving. He just did whatever I asked him to do, without hesitation or complaint. I have never been so confident as I was when I was with him.

    I wouldn't trade the relationship I have with Lilly for the world, but I often long to have a horse like Jack in my life again.

    I hope you're able to find exactly what you're looking for, whether it be now or later. You definitely deserve it.

    Enjoy your trip!

  2. Kate,
    I so enjoyed reading your memories and thoughts of your Snow mare. What a horse and what times you two had!
    I gasped when you said, you wanted to recapture the feeling of "a horse that could do anything". That is wonderful and something I have said of my mare...thoguh she maynnot want to do those "everythings"..I think she is so talented..she could!

    Noble, he was your heart horse too, I know it is still a hole feeling.

    I am sooo pleased that you get to go look at these neat horses AND that Dawn is doing better. Nice bareback ride today! Yea,though it was going well, riding with sugar, you must listen to intuition talking and stay safe.

    Two slots for the that is positive planning ahead!
    I am hopeful for your horse trip...have fun, be safe!~

  3. In many ways, your decription of Snow reminds me of Missy--the kind of horse you just trust and can't help but love. The kinda of horse you get on having no goals and just ride without looking back. I hope you find another Snow, Kate! Heck, if I wasn't so darn attached, I'd send Missy mare your way...

  4. Whether now or in the spring I hope you find just what you want and need in a horse

  5. Kate you summed up perfectly what I think we all want from our horses. This was a great post.

    I think you've done a good job of keeping your eyes on the prize and not getting swayed by a pretty face. So many people buy the wrong horse because it was pretty, or had a sad story, or was a beautiful mover - but they are a bad match under saddle. Nothing is more discouraging than a bad match especially under saddle, and nothing is more uplifting than a horse you can truly enjoy both on the ground and under saddle.

    I hope you meet a wonderful horse for you this weekend, but if not spring will be here before you know it!

  6. Kate...You and Dawn have come a long way together. It's good that you will want to continue working together even when you have a new horse. Happy hunting!

    Yes, you have had a pretty tough year losing Noble and retiring Maisie, but you made all the right decisions with love and compassion. I am going to send you a photo of my "Snow."

  7. What a neat post to read and I do love that photo of Noble ....He looks like he is about to strike up a conversation. How awesome to get out and about on the trail....very brave of you to go bareback. Wishing you all the best for the road trip and cant wait to read all about the horses you get to meet

  8. Kate,

    Thanks for sharing your memories in this very moving post. Your Snow must have been the sweetest girl ever. And, Noble, his photo alone tells about his sweetness. I am thinking good thoughts for you in your horse search and upcoming road trip adventure.

  9. A horse like you described is priceless and so very worth the hard work to find. I wish you good luck on your road trip--or peace of mind about waiting until spring. Your memories of Snow are probably the best guides you can follow.

  10. Certainly has been a tough year for you, onward and upward though!

  11. That touched my heart and made me think back too. Hope you find a kindred spirit who will love you this time too.

  12. Kate, thank you for sharing your memories. I think we can all relate to that childhood horse and the go everywhere and anywhere on them. Mine was an Egyptian Arabian ~ flighty, nervous, but man I LOVED that horse!

    Have a great trip and be safe =)

  13. You did have a hard horse year but now it's time things turned around for you. Hopefully, this horse search road trip/adventure will find a horse like your Snow and you can have a wonderful time making memories with a new partner.

  14. I had a taste of that "my horse and I can do anything" feeling today, and there is nothing in this world like it!! I so hope you find a horse that makes you feel this way again.

  15. Cannot wait to hear all about the results of your adventures this weekend! Here's hoping you find your horse; it will have been worth the wait :o)
    As to the Mark Rashid clinic, can I please hide in your suitcase?? I wanna go too!

  16. Kate, Snow reminds me of Romeo (my Cremello 2 yr. old).....not only looks but also the "try" he does not refuse if I ask and hopefully he'll be a horse who can do many different things. He's that horse I dreamed about. Slick does the same as Dawn, will turn and look at me while riding for the next command too! Love that! Dawn also reminds me of my mare, Glory, she's one of the red ribbon horses too. I was in a cutting class and she thought about kicking the trainer's horse as she was loping on him around us. I saw her ears go back and stopped it but it's awful to have to worry about that all the while during a ride. Later she told me that the reason horses get into this habit is: It's usually an Alpha mare, #2. they have never been told no by the rider. So, she said to set up a situation identical to that one and have horses loping up her back and then when she pins her ears ready to kick have them slap her with their reins to tell her NO! I was like....what do I do hang on for dear life?

  17. Kate, What nice memories of your first horse and those wonderful times! And also of beautiful Noble and how wonderful he was. They prepared you for later horses. I do so hope you find the perfect horse in your trip! You deserve a wonderful horse!


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