A Horse of My Own

Winston Churchill had it right when he said “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”  I don’t know why just seeing my horse gives me a thrill.  Seeing other people’s horse will relax me if I’m stressed, but there’s something about my own that is like no other feeling.

I bought my first horse about a week after I graduated undergrad.  When I was in college, my then-trainer would have a horse for me to lease for the summers.  After graduation, I moved all of my stuff back into my parents house, went straight to the barn, and found out there was no horse available to lease, but she knew of a good one for sale.  I didn’t have a job, I hadn’t been accepted to grad school yet, but I went with her to go check it out.  She had good horse sense, so if she said he was worth buying, I listened to her.  My parents weren’t happy.  The day we brought him home, I spent an hour just standing outside his stall staring at him.  My own horse.  We showed on the QH circuit.  He was an ex-halter horse who we retrained to be an all-around riding horse. Because I won a lot on him, I moved up to a higher division, which prompted me to sell him and buy something fancier. Looking back on it now, I think I could have made it work with him and I shouldn’t have sold him, but what’s done is done, and I know he went to a good home.  

My second horse was all legs even though he was halter-bred. But 2 years later his halter ancestry became apparent – he puffed out and was no longer the English-type horse I needed. I sold him to a halter home where he earned multiple championships.  My next horse was a western pleasure horse who had grown too big for his owners.  I showed them by winning at western pleasure with him, as well as a lot of English events.  He even took me to the QH Congress.  He was my horse when our entire barn switched to dressage.  But his western pleasure breeding got the best of him and he was showing signs of navicular.  I gave him away to a friend of a friend to be a trail horse – he was comfortable as long as he wasn’t asked to move out.  

I briefly owned an OTTB, but I didn’t know enough to teach him.  I sold him to a wonderful woman who still has him.  I then leased a great QH who knew everything.  He was a grumpy old guy.  Although leasing is great, I wanted a horse of my own. I combed the web sites every day until I found him – my black stallion [ok, he’s a gelding].  A black teenaged Russian Warmblood who was very well trained.  It was love at first site.  As we got to know him, we found out that he knew a lot more than advertised but he was also a hotter horse than we thought.  Even when he started showing health issues (heaves and stifle lameness), I was thrilled with him.  Acupuncture managed the heaves but the stifle lameness got too much for him.  I gave him to my current instructor who had the facilities to rehab him.  My next horse I bought at the advice of my then-trainer.  He was a 16.3 hh QH with fabulous gaits living out in Missouri.  In the meantime, my then-trainer moved across country and a few of us moved to my current barn.  I spent that summer, not only getting used to a new horse, but a new instructor, barn, and routine.  For some reason, the horse and I didn’t get along.  He taught me so much, but there was no connection between us. After 4 years I decided he needed a new home, and he wanted a new career.  I sent him to a jumping trainer, where he excelled.  I found a great home for him with a father and son.  I took a gigantic loss on him but he loved his new owners, they loved him, and everyone was happy.

BTW, my black stallion, who is now at least 23 yo and quite grey around the muzzle, lives next to my current horse.  I still feel responsible for him and have paid for some major surgery to keep him going.  He’s good enough to continue giving lessons and chase all of the mares in his pasture.

That brings me to PJ.  I felt that life is too short and I just kept being drawn to black horses, specifically Friesians.  When I saw PJ’s ad, I had to have him, even though he was green and I really needed a trained horse.  His video was horrible, but I was promised that he was quiet and willing, and I could see his potential.  I flew out to California to try him.  The prepurchase wasn’t perfect and the seller wasn’t willing to negotiate but nothing was a deal breaker and I agreed to buy him.

Although I am extremely happy with PJ, I appreciate each of my horses.  They were all great in their own ways, and they each had different lessons to impart to me.  My plan with each of them was to keep them forever, but as my story illustrates, things happen. Because I don’t want to jinx my relationship with PJ, I’m just enjoying each day as it comes.

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