Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lost Loves.

I was thinking lately about all the horses that 'got away', as one sometimes thinks back on those past human relationships. I haven't any past relationships of that sort, but I often imagine that this is kinda what it must be like when one reflects.

I imagine we all have horses that we met, rode and loved. Maybe they were lesson horses or a friend's horse or a free lease. You'd buy them in a heart beat and were certain they could be your heart horse. Yet you never in the end were able to make them yours.

I have such horses in my history. A few stand out very prominently that I often catch myself thinking about them and what it would be like if I had actually bought them. I used to ask my dad when I was a teenager, tempted to take my savings and buy one of these magical creatures, work my weekends to cover board and spend my evenings riding. Of course, I didn't have horsey parents and even if I did something as crazy as buy a horse, they'd NEVER let it come ahead of school. Which is why I was always the kid that had to stop taking lessons in December for finals, and May for finals, and March for mid-terms and November...and all summer long as I worked to pay for university tuition...

I do today, appreciate it. I never did make it to vet college like I dreamed, but I did get myself to a place where I do not worry about ever not being able to pay for Moon's care, board and spoiling. I'm sad to have missed out on the opportunity, to be a half-dozen step behind those that rode for years as kids, but I know that's just what life turned out to be for me.

The first horse I ever considered buying, was Bertha. A TERRIBLE name for a horse if you ask me. Even today, some 8 years later or so, I still gag when I hear it. I am forever fortunate to have stayed in touch with the wonderful woman who bought her, but I still can't believe she never changed her name. Bertha thankfully was her barn name. She was an off-the-track thoroughbred by the name of Windlass. I met her when a co-worker of my summer job offered me a free lease and I couldn't say no. My first real long-term lease. She hadn't been off the track long, she was proportioned like OTTBs always are at first (scrawny little neck, all tucked up behind and permanently bent left), and she was a sweet heart. I can honestly say, not all OTTBs are crazy. I loved her, she and I would gallop for miles, and she had just the right level of sassy.

Bertha, Summer 2005

When the chance to buy her came up at the end of summer, I was desperate. I tried everything. The BF even offered to purchase her for me (yes, he did it twice). But I couldn't. I knew I couldn't provide for her. I knew I was hoping to get in to vet college in the spring and I'd have to sell her. And if I didn't get in, I still needed to pay for 2 more years of university to get my bachelors. I needed to study at night and on weekends, as I learned from my less then stellar grades. I KNEW I shouldn't do it. I wouldn't be able to treat her if she was sick. I wouldn't have time to ride her because I'd always be working and studying. I couldn't offer her the training and care she needed. So I let her go. And I cried.

In hindsight, I'm happy. My dad always said to be patient. You can have things NOW because you want them, or later because you're ready for them. It's a tough choice, but I'm proud I didn't do it. She was $2k or $1500, I can't remember any more. She sold to a great person who took it slow and appreciates her. I got to watch them compete this summer and was proud of them. "B" as I've always called her (or more often, "Sweet B") is not the horse I loved so many summers ago. She's grown and changed and I don't feel my heart pulling towards her as it once did. "Sweet B" is long gone, galloped off in those summers of long ago. Bertha stands in her place, and while she's a good horse, she's not my heart horse.

I tried another OTTB after her. It was a couple years later and I was in a place where I could afford a horse. A friend had one that was too tall for polo and I saw an opportunity. I liked the fellow, Griffin. We practiced in the arena, I had walked him in the road and we even went on a trail ride with his real owners. I thought perhaps we had a connection and seriously considered purchasing him. Except for some reason, I could hardly motivate myself to get out and ride him. And I didn't know why. I still don't. It was almost like that guy that you date and he's really sweet, but when you finally kiss, there's zero spark. Nothing. I didn't care if I didn't ride him some days. Sometimes I'd ride for a bit and then hop off and put him away. There was nothing. That's kinda how it ended. I went out less and less. I started to wonder if I even enjoyed riding anymore. I eventually stopped going altogether. His owner asked me if I wanted to buy him and I had to say, no. I just, didn't.

Another year passed. I took some serious private lessons and was enjoying riding again. The urge to have a horse of my own was back and I knew I just had to find the right one.

That's where Krook came in. I decided I'd paid my dues, lost my opportunities and wanted to connect with a horse as I did with "B". I took a close friend on the journey and visited a lot of farms. I fell for a grey horse that bucked. I thought I could change him, but thankfully was convinced to stay clear. I met an awesome little quarter horse that was hardly green broke. My first training opportunity? A big black fellow who'd never jump but was parelli'd out the after horse, after horse. None for me. No connection.

Krook, Fall 2008

And then my friend offered to sell me Krook. A little sporthorse
colt, about 3 years old at the time who wasn't broke to ride. She and a
friend had bred him to be a little jumper but things hadn't turned out and
he was sorta just sitting there looking for a human. Why not me?

I spent about a month with him, hoping he'd be the one. I bought a little rope halter and tried some parelli. I brought a beautiful leather cavesson and lunge line and started working him. I went shopping for strong rope to teach him to tie. I paid the farrier to trim him and held him during the process...

But things went sour. He was fiesty. Full of piss and vinegar. At 3 he was herd-bound like the devil and already growing tall (I think he settled out at just over 16 hands). He'd never really been asked to work and he was NOT going to do so willingly. I tried. I remember having the rope halter on and him taking off before I could untie it. And REFUSING to stand to allow me. I stood in the field and was CERTAIN he'd be wearing it forever.

I remember taking him in to the outdoor ring to teach him to lunge. We'd had a few good sessions but he was always trying to get back to the herd. He'd run through the high tensile fence already, cutting open his leg. Why? Because we seperated him from the herd to get him over it. Didn't work.

So there we were trying to lunge. He'd realized that he was being asked to work and decided that wasn't going to happen. I remember he reared on me when I approached him, clipping the brim of my helmet with his hooves and knocking my glasses from my face, before taking off bucking and kicking. I dropped the lunge line. Put my glasses back on my face. Looked at the blood coming out of my glove from him half ripping off a finger nail in his outburst. He was still ripping around, trying to get to the herd.

I was just a couple years past my head injury. A polo horse that reared on the lead line, breaking my skull open with his hooves. The REASON I was wearing my helmet to lunge in the ring every time. I couldn't get past it. I still can't get past it. Bite me, push me, buck and shy all you want. But DO NOT rear on me. Deal breaker.

I think I went out one last time after the incident. But I couldn't do it. I didn't love him; I kinda actually hated him. He had seemed like the last hope after a lot of searching and a month in, it was time wasted. No heart horse there and I was sad, frustrated, angry and scared. I knew I was far out of my comfort zone and I bailed. Perhaps a little ashamed I couldn't cut it, but also happy to be free.

Time elapsed. I had stopped looking. I took lessons, but the horses never connected with me. So I went in search of another free lease...and found T and my Moon'er. He never scared me. If I didn't see him for a couple days, I'd be itching to get back. And when I saw him, I'd tear up. He made me start doodling in my notebooks at work like I was back in seventh grade. He entered my dreams at night, he was all I'd talk about during the day and I lost all interest in spending time riding lesson horses. All I wanted was him. Like love.

Moon'er, Fall 2011

I'll never say I don't look back. But I look back and see that every horse that wasn't my horse, helped me grow enough to find Moon. Those ex-horses will always be a part of me, because they brought me one step closer to my guy. Mr. Moon is every bit the bane of my existence, probably because he was built for my existence. Everything I wanted paired with everything I never knew I needed. : ) Thanks buddy for waiting for me.


  1. Great post!! Many times people forget about the horses that have made us what we are today.

  2. Aw, I love this, and love that you two found each other. Nothing quite like it:)

  3. Love this. I'm so glad that the ponies of the past led you to Moon. :)