Just because I dont think anyone else but the readers of COTH would actually read this and maybe even relate :
This will be the end of the 2nd year my horse and I have been a team in the show ring. It is also the end of the 2nd year of showing I have done as an adult. I had my time away from horses in college and when I finally purchased my own horse (without the help of mommy and daddy) did loads of trail riding all over the midwest and in Colorado. I realized I wanted to do something more, and found the show ring a perfect outlet.
When I bought my current horse, there was no bonding time. There was no "sitting/working in the roundpen and getting to know you" time that I had with my previous trail horse. There was a goal and that was getting us in the show ring. I learned about fake tails, about collection and stock pins. I was so nervous my trainer had to tell me to BREATHE when I entered the ring for the first time.Then it happened. I won a ribbon. My FIRST ribbon. 4th place. I was hooked.
During these past years, I really LIKED my horse. He consistently gotten better and better. He was sweet, had a quirky odd temperment and really tried hard. Yet, I didn't feel this connection that I had with my trail horse.. and my trail horse was a wing nut- and had been a major pain in the butt. I even got to the point of selling my horse because the connection was not there..So what was wrong?
Then it happened, the horse show we all dread. The judge that just DOES NOT notice you, no matter what you do. It was the final show of the season, the one I had been looking forward to all year. In all 4 of my classes, I placed on the bottom, below horses that tripped, picked up wrong leads, and had ill fitting tack. I actually have 2 classes on video where I am alone on the rail, and the Judge (in a class of 5 horses) did not look at us the entire 2 classes.
Yet, there I am smiling. My horse is preforming better than he ever has- he is FLOATING. His ears are up, his headset is divine- he knows he is doing well. My trainer is at the rail whispering "you look amazing!". Then it hit me, "how lucky am I that I get to do this? I LOVE this horse!".
This is what riding is all about, working your butt off and achieving this ultimate ride. No, we didn't get a ribbon to prove it, but I know it happened.
For the first time, this past weekend we sat in the round pen together while I read a book, and just enjoyed each other's company. I'm even looking into some "cow clinics" just for (dare i say it) fun.
Now tell me your experiences: Ever find out you had that perfect partner, that wasn't love at first sight/ride?
It usually takes me a while to bond with my horses, so it's rare to find the love-at-first-sight phenomenon for me. My current two big jumpers...
My heart mare took a solid two years to worm her way into my heart. I would ride her every day and every day I would think, "she's never going to be as much fun to ride on the flat as [former GP horse I had just sold]." Funny thing that after a couple of years of work and showing it finally clicked for both of us. We walked into the jumper ring at a little jumper show (I still remember the class well), and after a year and a half of having to be led into the ring because she was so witchy, it suddenly occurred to her that she loved her job and that was "the moment." She went on to do the high AOs and local grand prix classes for me despite the fact that she shouldn't have been able to (she's not the scopiest of horses), and time and time again showed that she was as driven as I was and that her heart far exceeded her ability. She has earned a cushy semi-retirement as my at-home-no-stirrups horse and will stay with me forever. And, as a side note, she's more fun to ride on the flat now than any other horse I've ever sat on and has gone on to be a favorite of my dressage trainer and the BNT I ride with regularly (who affectionately refers to her as "the machine")
My OTTB is one who was extremely detached when I got him. He was aloof and pretty rude most of the time, and for 3 or 4 years he was my soon-to-be-for-sale horse because he just wasn't my type. He wanted nothing to do with anyone on the ground even though he was a complete and total workhorse under saddle. I knew he would be a great GP horse, so I figured I'd get him there and then voila! up for sale he'd go. Funny thing happened along the way. About 3 1/2 years in he decided that he liked me....a lot....and now he's my personal pocket pony (he doesn't care much for anyone other than me and my 3yo daughter) and he's a real character in the ring. We had some pretty major epiphanies in the show ring this year and suddenly I have another heart horse. Which means another high-level horse that I can. not. sell. DH LOOOVES when my project horses turn into my "forever horses" I mean, it's just good business, right?
Congratulations on hitting "that" point with your guy. Shows like that are frustrating and yet still extremely rewarding to know that you have a true partner under you. I look forward to hearing updates from you, and I hope you guys have fun with the cows
__________________________________ Forever exiled in the NW.
Great stories on both your horses! Its amazing how you are at the point of selling them, and then one day BAM! It's like you get hit through the heart by an arrow from the equine cupid. Totally lovestruck.
Never had it happen before, but I just love the "spell" i'm under now! Ill be sure to take pictures of the HUS horse getting in the ring with those calves. Hopefully there are more pictures of me ON him then on the ground!
Well, Skyking (note my screen name) was a temporary free lease that I had while looking for my real horse. After retiring my best buddy, I was looking for a "real" dressage horse. At least 17 hands (I am 5'10"), WB, bay, reasonably priced.
Skyking is 14.3, loud pinto, half arabian, aloof and wicked smart.
We started off cool to each other, fought all the time undersaddle but it took me about 9 months to realize he was mine and he realized I was his human. That was ten years ago, and he is such an amazing partner. He has taught me how to ride, we are now doing tempis and working better than ever. It just took some time.
When I bought Shiloh I knew he was a great horse and exactly what I needed after my last horse. But, I never felt any connection with him for the first year or so. I mean, I liked him and I recognized his great qualities but just....no....click. And I do have to say, he was rather stand-offish and aloof so that didn't help.
Thje horse I felt connected to was the one before him. The Absolute Queen of the Witches Nasty-Ass Bee-yotch Mare. We fought nearly every day that I owned her. I can only remember a few happy days with her. I gave her away finally - right after the day she tried to kill me. And of course - who's the idiot that wants her back? Yeah. Me.
Fast forward to today. I love my Shiloh boy. I love his silliness, the way he smells, the way he knows when he can get away with being a complete ass and the way he knows when it's time to save my silly butt, his vanity after he's all brushed up or when he does something perfectly right, and all the other idiosyncracies. It will kill me when he goes. His latest trick is to sidle over to me with his head turned away so he can't see me (and therefore, I can't see him, right?) and get right on top of me so I can skritch his itchies. Like I can't see something white and the size of the Great Wall of China loomingthatclosetome.
"Cats aren't clean; they're covered with cat spit."
- John S Nichols (1745-1846,writer/printer)
I understand what you mean. I was at Dressage at Devon watching all of the amazing horses warm up around me. All of them were way more fancy and well trained than mine, but all of a sudden the thought hit me: I am so lucky to be able to have a horse, my horse, and ride.
When I was looking for a horse, #1 on the list was "Not a Chestnut". I was in the market for a draft cross, and chestnut usually means someone's color experiment went awry.
Enter Kipling, a chestnut. I saw his ad for weeks and did not go see him till finally my trainer told me to go look at him. I rode him and was totally luke warm about him, even though he was a nice horse and ticked every other box on my list. finally I admitted to my trainer that my problem was his color, and she rightfully shamed me in to giving him another chance. She went out to look at him with me, and afterward, when we got in the car, she said "he may not be your prince charming, but he is a diamond in the rough. If you don't get him I am sending one of my other students to get him."
Fast forward a year and a half and I am so completely and thoroughly in love with him, I can't stand it. He was supposed to be a palomino, but instead he is all mine.