I didn't get into horses because I was into showing. Riding wasn't even my biggest drive. I just liked to be around them.
I'm convinced that there must be some kind of horse-loving-gene. I feel a strong connection to horses.
Sometimes, I think they're pure magic.
I grew up five minutes away from my grandparents. My grandfather, my Poppy, loved horses. He and my Nana raised Standardbred horses for harness racing for a period of time when I was young. I remember sitting on the stone wall of the paddock with my little brother and just watching them. They were big, dark, and beautiful.
They had funny names (Slapstick Fancy?!) and beautiful babies. I will never forget watching them birth their foals in the straw lined stalls of my grandparents old bank barn.
Cute little nuggets! Those must have been my first encounters with horses. And they stuck. Or triggered that gene, I don't know.
After that I went to horse camps, took riding lessons, and eventually got my first pony. Ginger, a cute little Shetland. My dad & poppy got her from the New Holland horse auction, a sad, sad place. She was an old girl and I don't actually remember riding her. We just hung out together, I groomed her and loved on her. I don't know her past but they say every horse aught, at least once in their life, be loved by a little girl. And I sure loved that fat fuzzy pony.
After Ginger came my beautiful Allie girl. She was a pure white Arabian/Welsh cross and a sassy little mare. She was every girls dream pony and I was the lucky girl.
I can't seem to dig up my Allie pictures?! Hmm... So here is a painting of Allie at my grandparents barn that a local artist in Lancaster created. Her head looks a little drafty but you get the idea!
I absolutely cherish this painting. It hung in my Poppy's office and after his passing my Nana gifted it to Collin and I on our wedding day. My poppy passed away three days before our wedding so it was an extremely emotional time for everyone. A very special gift indeed.
Then we added S'more. He was Allie's companion. Bought from the auction too and ugly as sin. He was an old Appaloosa with the typical three strand mane and tail, pink freckled eyelids, a face only a mother (or I) could love, but a sweet old boy and gentle as a lamb.
I have many memories with Allie. I remember riding down the back roads, me riding Allie, Poppy on S'more, and my little brother on my old pink Schwinn. My childhood friend lived over the hill and through the woods from my grandparents farm and she leased a horse. We would meet up in the woods and ride all over together. At times running alongside the horses and vaulting on and off of them as they tried to buck us off (hmmm, wonder why she was sassy?!). I took hunter/jumper lessons at a nearby lesson barn and would come home and build jumps out of scrawny PVC pipes and scrap wood I found in the barn. I'd run Allie through my 3 jump course in the pasture while wearing Umbro shorts and paddock boots. Oh, the confidence I had back then! I wish I could find that exact picture. It's priceless.
As often happens, high school teenage life clouded my horse-vision and as college rolled around my parents gave Allie to a lesson program and that part of my life was soon over.
However, I always missed those velvet muzzles, that horsey smell, and the unspoken connection.
Ten years passed before I got back on a horse. I was out of college...twice over, I had been living in Colorado and was now back in PA. I became fast friends with a coworker who, at the time, lived on a horse farm. We bonded over horses and she convinced me to come to her farm and ride. I went trail riding with her once and it. was. over. I fell head first back into my childhood feelings of horse crazy. Oh and did I ever tumble down fast. This is why I'm convinced it's genetic. I couldn't even help myself!
^^^Funny, foreshadowing perhaps, this horse is Kippy who currently lives with me on my farm while my friend/her mom travels the country!^^^
Literally, within the month I had found and bought my own horse. Enter: India.
Though I had never owned a Thoroughbred, I have always, always loved them and been fascinated by Thoroughbreds. To me, they are some of the most strikingly beautiful horses alive.
I didn't have a big budget so an off track Thoroughbred (OTTB) seemed like a perfect choice. [In hindsight, an OTTB is not actually a good horse for someone getting back into riding...but I got lucky!] I researched re-homing organizations and found 'SaraBay' at After the Races. She was a coming four year old filly whose racing career was ended by a fractured sesamoid bone in her right foreleg. Though it was well healed, she would never be suitable for an upper level career, particularly jumping, but she was advertised as having the sweetest personality and perfect for a pleasure home.
I feel like I have above average intuition, an internal radar of sorts. I just know when something feels right, yes, she's meant for me.
It happened with Brie and it happened with Indie. Maybe it was something in their eyes or a 6th sense but I just knew. For both of them. Without even meeting them. They were for me.
I boarded Indie with my friend with full intentions of one day having her home with me. Though we lived out in the country, we lived in a little cape cod on three acres without a barn but...you know by now, I like to dream.
Much sooner than I thought (even sooner still than my husband ever thought! HA!), we ended up having a small but adorable two stall barn built and sectioning off two very small pastures. It worked for a while but it was certainly one motivating factor for our farm move. I do miss the easy care of this tiny little barn. That was the simple life indeed.
Whether I rode Indie or not, I just loved to be with her. She made me happy any time I saw her.
Aspen is now my lone girl. She was apparently another slaughter bound horse who came to me through my horsey friend (hmm...I'm seeing this enabling pattern in my friend...;) ) as a companion for Indie. I don't know what she's been through in her life, she can be a little spooky, but she's really the sweetest old girl and I love her just the same. What she would like is a little girl to brush her all day long and gush over her. She would just relish in that. Unfortunately, I work so she doesn't get the 5 full hours of currying that she'd prefer. :)
So I'm in my happy place with horses. Any horse I own will always be loved and cared for to the highest degree. Very unfortunately, Indie's last days came far too soon. Will I get another horse? That's always the question I get. Of course. But not until I get that feeling, ah, that's the one for me. Maybe soon, maybe not.
What I've learned from horses (it's too much to mention really) is that in our fast and busy world, taking a page from their book and consciously remembering (or in their case subconsciously) to live in the moment, experience the now, and that ultimately makes me a better human.
"We have almost forgotten how strange a thing it is that so huge and powerful and intelligent an animal as a horse should allow another, and far more feeble animal, to ride upon its back."
~ Peter Gray