I originally saw this at Viva Carlos and just adored her post and all the others I’ve seen going around lately. I had to think about this a bit, because it isn’t exactly easy to pick the 5 most influential horses of your life.
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. I was escorted to the party by The Black, Walter Farley’s star horse in The Black Stallion series…
I don’t remember not liking horses. Ever. I do remember the first book I was obsessed with, and that was Fritz and the Beautiful Horses. My mom read this book to me so much as a kid that I memorized it and “read” it to my class as a Kindergartner. The teacher called my mom in amazement that I could already read, but my mom was like ‘no, she’s just a crazy child.’
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…
Doodles (palomino on the right) was the first horse I ever loved, and also the one that taught me so much. First horse show. First hunter pace. First blue ribbon. He gave me confidence and showed me how much of a partnership riding could be… or couldn’t be. He was such a snot when I first started riding him, because I wasn’t yet the rider he taught me to be. I loved this horse more than my first horse, and cried and cried and cried when he had to be put down. I could write a novel about this horse, but I won’t. Just know that he was the one who sealed the deal for me – I was a lifelong equestrian.
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…
Elvis wasn’t my first horse, but he was the first horse I owned and it felt like I owned. I bought him from a horse dealer who said he did everything, but really he didn’t do much beside walk, trot, canter and steer. Still, I knew right away he was the horse for me with his calm personality and gentle demeanor under saddle. Within our seven year partnership, we did everything from fox hunting to western pleasure to hunter over fences. That isn’t to say he was perfect, because he wasn’t. He would constantly test me, but did so without being dangerous. We had a lot of highs and lows, but I still love and miss this horse. I’m so lucky he has a great owner now that’s in touch with me as he lives out his golden years.
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…
Beckett was my biggest challenge and my biggest failure. On paper, this was my dream horse. 16.2hh hunter under saddle bred registered Quarter horse by Chocolua. 10 mover, hack winner, good personality, and could jump a 3′ course with changes. To top it all off, my trainer found him for me in a field and I only paid a very meager amount for him. The problem? He had a different kind of personality under saddle than Elvis, and through a series of unfortunate events I became really, really scared of him. I barely cantered him, and never jumped him before he sold. He taught me a valuable lesson though – if you say you want to do something, you actually have to put work in to make it come true. Wanting isn’t enough, you have to work.
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…
This last one is a bit hard to answer. Really, my deepest heart is a combination of all the horses that have touched me. I’m only a year into owning Simon, but he’s the first horse I feel a real connection with since Elvis. Time will tell how our relationship develops, but I feel like really good things are in the future.
16 thoughts on “Five Horses”
Okay, I think you and I are like the same person haha!
I was obsessed with Fritz too. I think I read that book everyday for a year!
Best. Book. Ever. I need to get a copy as an adult!
Okay this post got me a little emo I must admit 🙂 Had a big laugh at “the Alzheimer’s Class” haha
Aw … very sweet. I’ve owned nine horses in my lifetime, I can easily categorize most of them into your “Five Horses.” I think it’s a bit harder to place your current horse unless you’ve had him for a decade – and I am really speaking about my two guys right now. Interestingly, I would probably call Speedy a Challenger (he would be my second one), and Sydney is trying to be a Heart Horse. Only time will tell. :0)
From the sounds of your blog, I’d say Speedy is a challenge you are doing very well with!
Maybe, but he’s a boatload of work! :0)
I love this statement:
He taught me a valuable lesson though – if you say you want to do something, you actually have to put work in to make it come true. Wanting isn’t enough, you have to work.
So true. Oh well, lesson learned!
Hey I commend you for being realistic!!
Btw I think your way committed!! You are a hard working equestrian for sure!!
Good ol’ Elvis! ( : Does Meredith still have him, or has he moved on?
This makes me want to do the same post for myself! Though I would have a hard time picking which horse goes into which category. I’ve been lucky to have an intense connection with several horses in my life, and they have each taught me different things.
Meredith sold him several years ago. He’s owned by a wonderful lady in Chapel Hill, and has a great home with her.
Love these posts. Elvis is SO ADORABLE.
I think I’ve said it before but I LOVED fritz!!! The artwork was gorgeous. I read it all the time! I love this post, I think I might steal the idea… 🙂
Fritz was my favorite book! I made my mom read it to me over and over 🙂
Sigh…I saw this on L’s blog and knew I wanted to do it but I didn’t have time that day. Now I still don’t have time..but I’m doing it anyways. 😉 Love this, love your answers!! I have a nephew named Beckett, too. 😉