Friday, October 8, 2010

Feelin' the Pony Love..........

Ok, I'm sure my vast hoard of readers (haha) are tired of  hearing about my horse by now, but.......................tough noogies!  ;)

I've always loved horses, ever since I was a wee wittle fing in my mama's arms.  I got thrown for the first time when I was about 3 and things went downhill from there.  As a consequence of my rather dangerous encounters with the various horses I've owned over the years, I was never really keen on riding.  I actually gave up on horses a few months after The Man and I got married.  I sold my mare, but kept my saddle and all my schtuff.  Then I finally sold that stuff too and thought I'd moved on. 

Enter my friend Missy and a horse she rescued named Misty......

My friend Missy with The Youngun on Misty, shortly after she was rescued.
Misty was a chestnut mare of unknown age or heritage.  She was at least part gaited because she had a rather bizarre way of going.  I was over at Missy's house to see this mare, because while Missy liked horses, she didn't know much about them.  The Youngun was around 18 months to 2 years old at this time.....anywho, I went over and Missy was riding this mare all over the place and asking me all sorts of questions.  I was answering her questions on autopilot because I really didn't even want to be there.  Missy was badgering me to get up on this mare and ride her and I was busily refusing, but Missy won in the end.  (She was like that, she usually did win in the end!)  As soon as my butt hit the saddle all those feelings just started percolating and busted the cap right offa that well!  I can't even tell you what it was like to ride her.  She was skinny and didn't know a darn thing, but she didn't buck and she didn't try to kill me.  That very evening I told The Man that I needed a horse.  He of course balked at the idea, but I won him over in the end and started looking.  Missy and I drove all over creation looking at horses.  I finally saw an ad in the local paper for a grade horse for 500 bucks.  He was about 3 miles down the road from Missy and her boyfriend Brandon, and about 15 minutes from my house.  Missy and I went to look at him.

Champ about two weeks after I got him.  He was 12 years old.
When we pulled up to the place, I saw this scruffy fat sorrel horse with the rattiest halter I'd ever seen standing at the gate.  I knew it was the horse I'd come to look at.  When the guy got him out, I could tell he was scared and when he saddled him he was jumping all over the place.  He had his tail tucked to his butt like a dog.  I actually thought there was something wrong with his tail because the bone was tucked into his butt and the bottom of the tail was sticking out.  There was nothing wrong with it, he was just so scared and had it tucked so tight in!  Anyway, Mike (his owner) got on him and walked and trotted him around in this big field.  When he went to canter him, he tried to get his head down and crow-hop, but Mike just stopped him and then when he asked for the canter again, he did it ok.  I got on and rode him and fell in love.  This horse (unlike all my previous equine steeds) didn't have a mean bone in his body.  Every reaction he had was fear, and that was something I could understand!

The first thing I did was take that halter off.  I promised him I'd never leave a halter on him again, as he's still to this day got a scar across his nose and on either side of his jawbone from wearing that halter.  I spent literally hours sitting out in the pasture on a bucket, waiting for him to come up to me and trust me enough to catch him.  Riding him has been an exercise in patience and humility and really didn't go too well for the first 4 years or so.

Champ 2 years after getting him..

  At that time I was still trying to ride western and I just didn't much care for it.  I spent pretty much all my time just playing with Champ, grooming and bonding and such.  I rode a little bit, but just didn't like it much.  I was always secretly intrigued by english riding, but where I'm from folks just don't do that!  Finally I bought a dressage saddle from ebay and from the moment I sat in it, I knew this was my calling.  I really liked not having anything between my leg and the horse and just felt more comfortable.  Then we moved and I had to board Champ instead of keeping him at home.  I worked at this barn in exchange for my board and I met a professional Hunter/Jumper trainer there. 

Champ, me and my trainer at the boarding barn....Champ was around 16 in this photo
 It was during this time that I finally blossomed!  The things I learned in the 6 months or so that I took lessons were simply amazing.  I learned that Champ is the kind of horse you have to "ride" all the time.  He's a worrier and you can't sit up there and think about what you are going to do when you are done, or you are going to have problems! My trainer from the sidelines could tell when I stopped riding him (mentally) by the way Champ responded.  He has taught me to be gentle in my aids, to keep my seat quiet and relaxed, and to give him some advance notice before I ask for something.  This has translated over into the rest of my life as well. 

Champ and I schooling in September '06
 Champ and I are a good fit because he isn't a trail horse and I'm not a trail rider.  I like to school all the time, and he needs to be schooled all the time so it's wonderful.  Yesterday during our ride he was able to trot on a nice easy rein all the way down the pasture and back.  That is a huge feat for him as he likes to bolt and run off and half the time I feel like I'm ripping his face off to get him to slooooow dooowwwn!  Mind you he's 22 years old now and we've been together for 10 years this month.  When I go out to ride, I have to clear my mind and relax.  If I don't we aren't going to have a good ride.  If I think I'm steady and relaxed, Champ let's me know if it's true or just an illusion.  I can't fool him. 

Leading up to and during The Crisis I had totally quit riding, and really even paying any attention to my horse.  I'm not sure if I was depressed, or if this caused a depression or what, but I know that I had for sure lost my way.  I'm so thankful that God is in control of our lives and He knows what's best for us even when we don't have a clue.  Since I've been making a point to go out and at least groom Champ every day, and riding at least 3 days a week, I'm amazed at how settled I feel.  Horses are my passion and you just can't squelch your just ain't healthy!

Champ last month, 9/2010
Well I'm reasonably certain no one is still reading as I've pretty much written a novella here, but there will be lots more posts like this to come.  I don't really have any horsey friends and if you love horses you know that you could talk about them for hours on end.  Others just get that glazed over look in their eyes, so I'll try to just pour it all out here in my blog, at least you can stop reading and I'll never know! ;)

God Bless............


  1. LOL! Guess what, I made it all the way to the end of your post! Sounds like you and Champ have an amazing relationship. I grew up with horses. They were always in my life so I took them for advantage as I got older.

  2. Great post girl. I love the horse posts. Horse lover myself here. I'm just lovin that 1st picture..theres something about looking in a horses eyes. Beautiful ; )

  3. Awww... I read it all too! What a great story about you and Champ. I've never really be around horses but would love to be! The are such beautiful, powerful creatures.

  4. Great post - I love the last Sept 2010 picture - absolutely beautiful! Keep on riding - it is good for the head!

  5. Wonderful post - it came straight from the heart and shows that you are a true horsewoman - one who understands her limitations and her horse's and never tries to overface her horse - thats what the best riders do.

    Looking forward to reading more!!


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