Monday, February 14, 2011

Why I Love My Horse - Goldilocks and the Three Horses

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!

29 comments:

  1. Pie is just too stinkin' cute. It's a good thing he has a good heart and is well-mannered... because a face like that could get away with murder!

    Thanks for taking us on that journey through your horses! It's so amazing how horses touch our life and connect the phases of our life together. I know I wouldn't be the same person without them.

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  2. Of course it would be sweet Pie. I just love his face. Although he is a chestnut and Jackson is a grey, the posts about Pie remind me so much of Jackson. Happy Valentine's day to you and your sweet boy.

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  3. Great post. Our love affair began with a bad back. Betty had an accident on a moped and injured her back. The next year we went to Alaska and one of the places, a wilderness lodge, offered only hiking and horseback riding. Because of her back Betty wasn't open to hiking but she had read that riding could help your back. We took a couple of defensive riding lessons and had a wonderful time riding in Alaska. After that we rode every chance we got and learned a lot from friends in Canada who owned a guest ranch. To make a long story short, we got our first horses a year after we moved to New Mexico and we haven't looked back.

    Dan

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  4. You had some great learning experiences as a kid - that would have been my dream life!
    I enjoyed the story of the three bears... er, horses.
    And of course, I think Pie is the cutest! Third time's the charm, right?!

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  5. Kate--I loved the baby photo of PIe. I agree--it shows he is a naturally confident horse.

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  6. A great history of Kate and her horses. That last shot is gorgeous! You have had some spectacular buddies and they are lucky to have connected with you.

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  7. Oh, and I should have credited Melissa at Paradigm Farms for the second picture of Lily and both pictures of Maisie - thanks, Melissa!

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  8. I just loved your story and pictures. I look forward to seeing the horse next month.

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  9. you really do seem like goldilocks and the three bears, how good anyone not love that sweet face on the last picture?!

    i like the picture of dawn doing a 'very dawn thing' ;)

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  10. Have to say Pie has a very nice kind eye its one of the most important things I look at when buying a a horse. Interesting to read about your different pals and how mcuh time you took to get that right horse this time.

    So nice to read also that life doesn't stop when you have children, ok you had a break but you have got back to what you loved to do, I m in that zone of a young child and more to come and having had a horse since I was 7 I hate the thought of having to stop but there is light at the end I can ride with my children hopefully!??

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  11. Sweet Pie. I think he's as glad he found you as you are that you found him.

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  12. Hey Kate! We both attended the same riding school. ;)

    This is such a beautiful post. And Pie is totally adorable. His personality shine through like a giant beacon. I'm so glad you found each other. I know what a lot of work it was!
    Happy Valentine's day to all!

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  13. Oh my gosh! That picture of Dawn... kicking and bucking... yeehaw! I'm loving hearing everyone's love stories. I can relate to much of what you've said (about you own horses)with my Clyde and Rosie.

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  14. Love hearing a bit more history about your other horses. That picture of Dawn bucking is impressive!

    We'll have to see about Drifter, but you've for sure got a gem in Pie. And he's so cute :)

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  15. You are right, Pie just exudes confidence in his baby picture. You really did your horse search right and it served you well. Pie is amazing. All of your horses are!

    Word verification: coggin

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  16. Kate, What a lovely history of your horse loves! Maisie is really beautiful in your photo of her. And Pie is now your special horse- how wonderful he is!

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  17. Love the story Kate, and I agree Pie is the best!

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  18. It was very interesting to hear your story. I understand the hunt for Pie so much better now. I'm happy you found each other. I'm sure he will love and appreciate you as much as you do him. What a great Valentine's Day story. :-)

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  19. great post. Love the pic of Lily running and the ones of Maisie. She looks so sensible. Its great that you finally have found your just right horse! The stories of your youth riding with the bullwhip made me laugh and reminded me of Barbora here in Slovakia. She learned much the same way!

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  20. Nice story. I agree, Pie is just right. He's quite a guy.

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  21. That is quite a story, glad you found Pie, but also about the other horses before him or you mightn't have appeciated him as much.

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  22. I love the way you tell a story :)

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  23. I'm so glad you and Pie found each other. He's a special horse.

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  24. I went to the same riding school but didn't get to spend anywhere near the number of hours there that you did. Still I loved every minute I was there.

    That's quite an adventure that led you to Pie and you went from mares to a gelding. Funny how life can lead us sometimes. I think its wonderful you've found that special horse for you.

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  25. Awesome to read about your other horses...also loved baby Pie:)

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  26. I think we all go through some unsuitable horses until we find the right one. Pie suits you well!

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  27. They are all so beautiful, but Maise just blows me away every time I see a picture of her. I like how even though you had some bad times with horses, that you kept loving them always :)

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  28. Pie is great anyway you slice it :)
    I can't wait to hear more about Drifter too!

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  29. Great post! I really enjoyed reading about the horses in your life.

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