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She's Not a Baby Anymore!

Early spring saw some immediate changes in how Ellie carried herself and our dressage work started to truly improve.  There had been times last year where flat work felt like a fight and I wondered to myself if she was ever going to just relax and listen to me haha.

Thankfully, as the title suggests, Ellie has suddenly grown up in front of my eyes.  We have had some really stellar lessons lately, where I feel like I am suddenly able to make things click.  We also had an incredibly frustrating dressage lesson a few weeks ago where Ellie was in rip-roaring peeing heat (not normal for her) and we worked through 45 minutes of her refusing to bend right.  So, ya know, as much as she is improving, she is still an opinionated redheaded mare!  ;-)

But, I have to give her credit because she is really working her little butt off for me!  Sadly, I had not been able to schedule in a jump lesson before our first three-phase, which led to me riding her ridiculously backward at a slow trot the entire …

Uncommon Praise - An Unofficial Blog Hop

Amanda at Bel Joeor wrote a lovely post, Uncommon Praise, about the ways our horses are special that are not the typical reasons (such as we might list on a sales ad).  I really liked her post, beyond the fact that she is a good writer, because it is so true that I love my horses in ways that other riders may not understand.  Her words made me think of the ways I adore my mares and I thought I would share.  I love to wax poetic about my horses (who doesn't!) and I tried not to get too ridiculously sappy.  

(Also, I don't know that Amanda wanted it to be a blog hop, hence my use of unofficial in the title haha!  ;-)

I will always love Sparky fiercely because she was my first horse, and she stuck by my side longer than anyone else ever has (not that she had a choice haha).  I loved her in a way that only a thirteen year old horse crazy girl could.  She definitely had a wall that she spent years trying to keep up, not quite wanting to let me in at times, having been abused and misused by humans before I owned her.  She filled a part of me that needed to be filled, and she was with me for just over twenty two years.  She taught me more about life than anyone else ever has, in ways that made me transform from a hesitant teenager into a confident woman.  She taught me how to grow up and she wasn't always an easy horse.  She was by my side through high school, college, a first marriage, a first child, and a divorce.  She was with me until I had been dating with my now husband for about eight months, and it was almost like she knew it was OK to leave me, because I had started to grow into what I see as one of my best versions of myself so far in life.  I don't think there is anything more special than your first horse, your first love.


Taken at Sparky's 30th birthday party
 I love Snappy because she represented a second chance and transformation, both for her and for myself.  She came into my life as I was readying to leave my first marriage, and acquiring another horse probably was not the smartest idea.  I gave her a second chance and a second career (third if you count her brief stint as a broodmare who rejected her first and only foal).  Snappy was a plain brown mare, a throwaway of the racing industry after twelve years on the track, who was never going to be a high level riding horse in any sense, but she gave me hope when I needed it.  Snappy was the type of horse who gave me everything she had and she trusted me without question, which sometimes surprised me because she was a complete B.I.T.C.H as a racehorse.  That is what they called her, the bitch mare and she cow kicked directly towards my head the first time I ever brushed her (the day we met).  I never saw that side of her once she became officially mine.  It is almost as though she knew I needed her (even if it wasn't the most financially sound plan at the time).  She was quietly courageous and steadfast and completely trustworthy.  She could do no wrong in my eyes.
Photo used with permission.  The photographer asked me to leave her watermark on the pics if I posted them online.  I promise I NEVER steal photos!!
I love Dreamy because she is one of the most authentic horses I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  I don't know if I can adequately describe in words her sense of fairness.  She is a horse who is acutely aware of all fairness (and unfairness) of life.  She's very black and white and craves routine (though she has somewhat mellowed out in her older years haha but only a little).  She is an incredibly respectful horse and never takes advantage of anyone UNLESS she thinks you are being unfair.  When I call her out in a way she perceives as fair, she listens.  But if you are unfair with her in any way, she is not impressed and totally gives you the middle hoof in the most respectful way possible haha.  It is as though she treats me as an equal, which is a weird concept in some ways, but it works for us as a partnership.  I swear she lives her life like the Golden Rule.  There are definitely times when I feel like she simply puts up with me but over the years together she has softened up a lot.  She doesn't like other horses and has to be turned out alone because she beats the crap out of everyone (double barrel kicks pretty much within five minutes of turnout with ANYONE lol), but I have always just respected that about her and accommodated her need to be solitary.  Humans don't generally get along with her either, not that she ever does anything wrong or rude with them, she just has this attitude with everyone but me; we just have an really solid understanding of each other for some reason.  It is almost as if she looks down on everyone else but somehow I have earned a spot of being her equal.  I respect and accommodate who she is without being a doormat, and I think she respects me back for that haha. Now that I think about it, we are both loners and maybe that is why we connect with each other.
Our photoshoot at Popham Beach with Barbara Livingston for the Standardbred Old Friends book
And while I may have only owned Ellie just shy of five months, I love her for giving me a sense of homeI watch Ellie graze, trot, and canter around my front field, and I see my childhood.  I see that typey Morgan head and body and distinctive trot, and I see the horses I grew up with.  She feels like home.  Riding her is so familiar, that short coupled little compact Morgan horse on which I first learned how to ride.  She immediately just felt like she fit, which was tough at first because I was in deep, raw mourning for Snappy.  We had an immediate connection and she has been so open to accepting me as her person.  I love her inquisitiveness without any fear, her desire to be physically close to me without being pushy, her sunny personality without being obnoxious.  It sounds so hokey, but she quite honestly just wants to be my best friend (and she wants cookies, let's be real), because it is just her sweet disposition.  She does this thing where she just touches my arm or hand with her nose in a reassuring way, and in the very beginning, I was like get out of my space baby horse! and I soon realized it is just HER.  She's not doing it to get in my space; I think she is doing it to reassure herself.  Or maybe sometimes to reassure me.  It is just her endearing little bright eyed self.  She stands pressed up against her plastic covered stall chain at night, before I close their stall doors at night check, and every single cell of her is waiting for me to give her attention (and cookies bahaha!).  But she is not obnoxious, she doesn't paw, she doesn't actively try to get my attention other than standing there in quiet anticipation, watching me intently, with her chest against the stall chain.  As I creep towards the age of forty, she makes me feel like a little kid again, giddy with the excitement of what our future together holds.
The moment before I loaded her onto my trailer and brought her home!
It is easy to forget how much these horses hold my heart, how much gratitude I owe them for being in my life quite literally until their last breath.  Never mind the horse show ribbons we earn, the matchy-matchy tack and equipment I love to collect, all the cool adventures they have given me.  Writing this makes me realize just how much these horses have made me into the person I am, and I will always be forever grateful.  

Comments

  1. What a beautiful post. I love it. All of it. I am going to check out that blog!

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    1. Thank you! (And yes, you should definitely check out Amanda's blog!)

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  2. <3 you have had such special horses, and they're so lucky to have had you too!

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    1. Thank you! I would have to agree, I have had some really lovely horses who have given me so much!

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  3. I love this post! Thank you for sharing, it brought a smile to my face (and almost makes me want to quit being a slacker and blog myself)!

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    1. Hahaha you should definitely write about Gen in this type of piece! I would love to read it!! (Hint, hint!!) ;-) Plus, I know you have learned different things from your lease horses!

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