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Returning to Riding and Finding My Dream Horse: Part 1

I can’t believe I actually thought I was done riding and content to live vicariously through my daughter and her horse when I retired my 25-year-old Morgan gelding. My daughter didn’t believe it, my friends did not believe it, my husband very vocally did not believe it. I guess the only one I was successfully fooling was myself!

So, I suppose it came as no surprise to anyone (but me) when I announced my decision to go shopping for another mount!

The excitement that I felt surrounding the idea of a new equine quickly melted into apprehension when I thought about forging a relationship with a new horse after owning Zip for 17 years. (After all, many marriages don’t even last that long!)

I decided it would make the process easier if I narrowed down what I was looking for. First, I was firm in my decision that it would be a stock horse breed. I also knew I wanted something small – not over 14.3hh – because I’ve always been vertically challenged (and, more recently, horizontally as well). Finally, taking my daughter to her lessons on her reining trainer’s horse made me remember what it felt like to ride a well-broke horse with a good stop and spin. It had been many years since I’d experienced that for myself – my Morgan was a great hunter under saddle and hunter pace horse who was very brave in the field, but could not have spun if he had an axis!

With my criteria decided, I found myself looking at ads with a fever pitch. It consumed my being to find MY horse! Every spare minute I had (and some I didn’t) you would find me scrolling through Facebook and Craigslist and carefully reading those ads as if I were an editor with a rapidly approaching deadline.

As a family, we went on several excursions to check out potential candidates. I cleverly exploited my daughter’s love of riding new horses by having her try them all out for me. She was rapidly becoming a competent little rider and besides, I told myself, if she can ride it, I can. The idea that 40+ years of riding experience would also go hand-in-hand with a 40+ year old body had never entered my mind!

On a mild Saturday in May, we headed out to look at one promising little gelding. His ad had started with a list of who’s who in his pedigree, which I thought was an intriguing way to word an ad. We arrived to find a beautiful bay gelding being groomed by his owner. She tacked him up and then brought him to the arena to show us what he could do. Moments later, after watching his lead changes and handy little spins, I was quite impressed. My daughter shoved her helmet at me and quipped, “You need to ride this one yourself!” I agreed, and when he was offered to me, I channeled the fearless 20-something cowgirl whom I knew was still in there, ascended the mounting block, took a deep breath, and swung on.

The next 15 minutes were a blissful blur of smooth transitions, lightness, and softness in the bridle. I knew I had to have this horse! I dismounted, walked him back to the owner, and with a shrewdness born of years of horse buying, blurted out, “I love him, I’ll give you the asking price!” How incredibly astute of me! My husband and daughter were stunned to silence and stood gaping at me like a pair of guppies. But I didn’t care at all about their silent judgement – I had just ridden my dream horse and I was going to have him. Sadly, I was informed that she could not finalize anything until she had let her mom know as she was the one actually in charge of the finances. Since she was working 3rd shift and wouldn’t be home until dawn, that meant we probably wouldn’t hear from her until the next day. It was going to be a very long 24 hours for everyone in my circle!

Wondering what happened next? Stay tuned for Part 2!

Posted in Blogs, Stories & Adventures

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