Jane over at The Literary Horse has asked us to do posts on why we fell in love with our horse - if you go over there you'll find links to some marvelous stories.
My story includes Goldilocks (that would be me - I used to be blonde in the long-ago past and also have often acted pretty clueless when it comes to getting horses) and the three bears (oops! meant to say horses - at least two of them were bears in certain ways and the third one is "just right").
I've loved horses forever. We lived next door to a (very bad) livery stable - the type that rents out horses by the hour to anyone who shows up, whether they can ride or not. I learned to ride there by climbing up on horses bareback and riding until I fell off and then getting back on again. By the time I was 9 or 10 I was working there (for no pay except getting to ride all day, which was pay enough) all weekend taking customers on rides, which meant riding whatever horse I was riding that day, carrying a bullwhip and going along behind the customers and cracking the whip to get their horses to canter. I was probably on a horse 8 to 10 hours a day each weekend day that the weather permitted and more days in the summer. I got my first horse at age 8 - a completely unsuitable, barely trained and vicious (due to abuse) mare that spent a lot of time trying to kill me and almost succeeded on at least one occasion. I had more horses as I grew up, the most memorable of which was Snow - a cremello QH mare who would do anything for me, and whom I loved dearly. I rode other people's horses too whenever I could. In college I rode almost every day, on school horses, and actually got some real lessons for the first time. My college team did hunter/jumper and also eventing and we even had a drill team - now that was fun!
Then I started working (in the so-called "real" world), got married and had two daughters. About 15 years went by since I'd even sat on a horse. When my daughters got to be about 7 and 8, they wanted riding lessons, and one thing led to another. I started taking some lessons again, and discovered that it all came right back. I discovered Noble and got him - he wasn't a hunter but did beginning dressage. I loved him for 13 years and he was always willing to do what I asked, even if he was nervous about it which he often was. My daughters started showing in hunters, and we got several horses, including the Norman pony - this would be in 1998. In 2000, as I was getting ready to retire from my job, I got Promise and started showing with my daughters. I loved her dearly - she wasn't just a hunter but would do anything and go anywhere I asked - but Promise very sadly had an accident that proved fatal in the fall of 2001, and I was looking for another horse - still thinking that I wanted to show.
Here's where the three horses come in. Horse number one Lily showed up, stuck her muzzle into my face and also proved that she would jump anything. Here's Lily, doing a Lily sort of thing:
And here she is, running, which she does very well:
I got her (my older daughter got Dawn at the same time). It wasn't the wisest move on my part - she was a very difficult ride and not well-suited to hunters. Although I liked her personality and fire, I never enjoyed riding her - it was just too darn much work. She never worked down or tired out and I did. My older daughter wanted to do jumpers and Lily had the potential, so I passed Lily on to her. (My older daughter passed Dawn on to my younger daughter, who had outgrown Norman.) I was searching for a horse again.
I think I tried at least 17 horses, or maybe more, before I got Maisie - horse number 2. Here she is:
When she got off the trailer, her beauty just blew me away. I also felt sorry for her - she was very sad and shut-down and really wanted nothing to do with me or anyone else. And I still wanted to do hunters and, when we took her to a show during the tryout period, she cleaned up in every class she was in. She was very sweet, and I overlooked her serious conformational problems and her, how shall we say this, "ditziness". She was hard to ride in a different way than Lily - she was sweet but was a very slow learner and easily frustrated and flustered and prone to melt-downs. We'd also stopped doing hunters - in fact had left the show world entirely. And she was constantly unsound because of her build. I learned a lot from her, but she really wasn't suitable for what I wanted to do - all around activities and trail riding - and nothing we did was going to keep her sound.
Both Lily and Maisie are now retired, together with Norman, at Paradigm Farms. At about the same time that Maisie retired last year, we lost Noble at the age of 30. The only horse I had left living with me was Dawn, who belongs to my younger daughter who's now at college. I do love Dawn, but I would never have picked her as my horse and she can be quite a challenge. Here she is doing a Dawn move:
And here she is looking beautiful, but very alert in that Dawn way:
I was on a horse search yet again, but this time I tried to pay some attention to what I was doing and end up with a more suitable horse, both mentally and physically - I was looking for the "just right" horse. I looked long and hard - those of you who were with me on the horse search know about that. And here's what I found - Pie:
He's only 4, but he's smart, and sensible, sound and willing and has a great foundation on him already - he's just right. He came home with me at the end of October and we've had 40 rides together already despite the weather. I got to spend a lot of time with him the day I checked him out - he was easy to approach and halter in the pasture - he walked right up to me with interest, and he was a gentleman for everything including the vet check. He's just a horse with a lot of confidence - he came that way I think - here's a picture of him as a baby that captures that feeling:
Every time I'm around him, I like him better. And he makes me laugh - he's got a playful, goofy streak that's adorable, and he's a delight to be around and doesn't mind being hugged and fussed over - and who could resist this face:
(And we'll see how the runner-up - Drifter - in the great horse search fits in if and when he arrives in March.)
Happy Valentine's Day to you and all your equine friends!