I am feeling sappy. Forgive me. This won’t last long.

20 October 2011 Comments

I love my horse.

This is hard to explain.

I started riding… well, I don’t remember. Someone mistakenly let me ride double behind a friend.

We moved to England. My brothers played football and I rode horses. When I couldn’t ride horses, I went to the local park, which had a hippo statue, and shoved a jump rope in its open mouth. The hippo statue, that jump rope—I don’t even remember what I dreamed, just that I dreamed.

We move to the Frozen North. By then, my father was resigned. No one understood why I wanted to ride, but my parents made it possible. I still don’t understand it. We weren’t rich. I am lucky beyond my understanding.

Later, we bought the Super Saint. I didn’t deserve this horse, and I’m still unraveling the lessons he taught me.

One of the lessons: a mini-medal Finals. I screwed up, and then I screwed up again. The Super Saint tossed me across a fence, and I got up on the other side, understanding that it was my fault. Somehow, out of disaster, I was given another chance.

My instructor let me ride The Horse of Many Names, another horse I didn’t deserve.

We competed in local Medal classes. My god, we did not win, but we competed.

I have the video. I’m not sure I could ever explain what it meant to me just to be IN the class. I never thought I’d win. I never thought I’d make the finals. Hell, I never did make the finals. But we were in the class.

I think, sometimes, we are so set on winning that we forget what it means just to be in the general vicinity of winners. I could be like you, one day… I could be like you one day. I cannot, I absolutely cannot, describe to you what it meant to me to be in that class.

I have a video of my first (I think) medal round. My god. We screwed up in every way possible. Do you know what I remember from that ride? We finished. We finished. By God, we finished. It was due more to the horse than to me, but I had a taste for it: if I worked hard enough, on the right horse…

It wasn’t on the Super Saint—he couldn’t jump so high by the time I bought him. It was on the Horse of Many Names. I am prouder of the screwed up, last-place finish the Horse of Many Names and I had in that medal round than I could be of any first place medal finish. I was scared to death, but we finished. Either you understand this, or you don’t.

After the Super Saint and the Horse Of Many Names, I drifted. I was saved by the Project Pony. She saved me; I’d like to think I helped save her.

And then, you know, I just rode. I rode some very nice horses. I rode many horses much more talented than me, thanks to some very generous owners. But none of them where the Project Pony. None of them were the Horse of Many Names. None of them, by God, were the Super Saint.

I miss him so much it hurts, even years and years later. That scar will never heal. 

But then, Ro.

She was (and I think her then-owner would agree) a weedy little thing when I met her. She was five years old, and people would pass us in the cross ties, commenting on what a nice two-year-old she was.

By all rights, someone owes Ro an apology.

I agreed to help her then-owner start her, although I didn’t know what I was doing. Knowing what I know now, I would have done some things differently. So, I think, would have her then-owner. We muddled through, somehow. I decided I wanted to buy Ro on the strength of her full brother’s ability and her mind. I thought she could be as good as he was, and she had enough of a sense of humor to tolerate me, so…

She failed the PPE. Circumstances happened. I was involved in all of it, so I know what happened. And I was crying when I told her then-owner that I couldn’t buy Ro. I was so sure Ro was my next Project Pony, the horse I could trust through anything, and circumstances…

I was heartbroken. I had not been so heartbroken since I lost the Super Saint. I didn’t even own her, and the thought of giving her up tore me apart.

I don’t know what her then-owner thought. I don’t think I want to know.

I have never, and I do mean never, been so heartbroken.

There are, I will not lie to you, fancier horse than Ro in the world.

I could have bought one.

I could still, perhaps, buy one. The market is rather good right now.

But oh, a little over a year ago, Ro’s then-owner moved Ro to a new barn. I had just had my confidence shattered. I had had to admit that the horse I wanted so much could not be mine. And then I watched her walk off the trailer, at a new barn, and my heart broke all over again. I was sure, in better hands, Ro could be something. I just didn’t think she could get there in my hands.

Ro thrived at the new barn. I re-approached her owner. Her then-owner should have kicked me out of the room, but somehow I ended up signing the paperwork that said I owned Ro.

I am not sure I will ever be able to explain

Ro is NOT the fanciest horse i have ever ridden.

She has three good gaits. She has potential that makes me think she can probably go a lot further than I can go, with the right rider and trainer.

I don’t know that I am the right rider and trainer.

I have faults. I could list them in detail for you, if you’d like.

Here’s what I know about Ro:

She makes me smile.

She makes me laugh.

I have not, since the Project Pony, trusted a horse so much.

Ro has a spook. She has a crow-hop. She will take me with her if she spooks or crow-hops.

I am not worried that Ro will ever do something nasty and dump me.

Not ever.

Oh, I’m sure I’ll fall off her at some point. It happens. But I don’t think it will be because SHE wants me off her. You see the difference?

This week, I got on Ro, after she’d had ten days off and the temps had dropped considerably. It didn’t occur to me to lunge. Or, rather, I figured if she did anything under saddle, it would be rideable. It wouldn’t be malicious.

The last time I felt like this was the Project Pony. The time before that was the Horse of Many Names. And the time before that was the Super Saint.

I don’t know about “once in a lifetime horses.” It seems to me that I’ve met more than my fair share of them.

I’m just an average rider. I’ll be lucky to get to Second Level dressage.

That has nothing to do with the horse I’m riding and everything to do with me. I’m just not that talented. I try hard. It makes up for a lot. I’m not sure it will get me beyond Second Level.

And I have somehow, I don’t understand how, a horse I can hop on and know I will be as safe as anyone can be on a horse.

Ro is not perfect. And I am not perfect. But somehow, we are making it work.

She makes me smile. She makes me laugh. God love her, but she tolerates me.

I don’t know why, but she does.

It breaks my heart. I get on her, and I know she has more in her than I know how to ask of her. And this reminds me of the Project Pony. And the Horse of Many Names. And the Super Saint.

I don’t know how I got here. I don’t know where I’m going.

Somehow, I’ve ended up with a horse I don’t deserve.

We’ve had awful luck this year. I have about given up on getting her into the show arena. But I watched a video of where we were a year ago, and I thought about a ride we had last weekend, and I’m not sure it matters.

Ro could have, should have, would have.

But she has me, and I have her. I don’t regret it. I hope she doesn’t, either.

Tagged: Horses, Horses - AKA, Horses - Project Pony, Horses - Ro, Horses - Super Saint, United Kingdom, United Kingdom - England, United States, United States - Alaska, United States - Texas


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