Wednesday, July 15, 2015

SFTS Hop: Heart Horse

Jenn from Stories from the Saddle wants to know about our heart horse. Or, more specifically, she asks: Do you currently have your "heart horse"? What makes a "heart horse" to you? If you don't own a horse, have you ever leased a "heart horse"? 



This is always a difficult question for me to answer. Like others have said, choosing favorites can be hard and I try to find lovable things about most of the horses I have ridden (and there have been lots). 


I've also never owned before and Isabel is my first lease. So the horses in my past were assigned to me for one reason or another, rather than chosen by me. It doesn't make them any less special - but it does change the dynamic and affect how I view the relationships. 


Meaning: I've very much learned to 'love the one I'm with.'


That said, a few stick out over the years. And sadly I have almost no pictures of them, let alone of me riding them. All these photos were taken before the advent of the ubiquitous cell phone camera. Perhaps this is why I'm such a picture junkie now? 



doesn't get much better than a picture of a picture, right? #meta
Anyways, Snowy was a sensitive appy mare from the first barn where I learned to ride - the super isolated place where beginner lesson students rode single file behind the 'lead pony.' It was a rite of passage when I became a lead pony rider in high school - and Snowy was my charge (she was used exclusively for this purpose). 


no actual pictures, but my 14 yr old self was apparently quite the illustrative journalist. (see i come by the blogging thing naturally lol. also some things never change: see the 'i want a horse' comment)
I was assigned to lead pony multiple lessons a week, all free saddle time for me. I LOVED it. Snowy was challenging in her own right: flighty and nervous (and yes I totally hit the dirt in front of the up-downers more than once... oops!) - but this was the first time I had regular non-lesson rides on one horse and felt like we developed our own rapport. 


yes this is actually the best picture i have of him. maybe the only picture...
Dancer lived at the same farm and was my last regular lesson horse there. He was an aging TB suffering from a host of issues, including a bad back. He was a very sweet horse that I frequently struggled with, but when we got it right it was incredibly rewarding. When we got it wrong? Well... there may have been rides where we just careened around the tiny indoor again and again and again with zero control... but let's not dwell lol.  

Quite tragically, and VERY unfairly (to my 17 yr old mind) - both of these horses were PTS during my first year away at college for reasons I didn't fully agree with. Not that they were wrong, but I self-righteously thought the trainer should have tried harder. It was tough for me to come to terms, but that's horses, right?



i wasn't aware this photo was taken until the parent who snapped it gave me a copy weeks later. even all these years later i can still remember this quiet between-classes moment with Ellie
Once I got to college and settled into the new-to-me h/j world (a process that took the better part of a year), I took on barn management shifts to cover twice-weekly lessons. This was supplemented by 'project' horses that needed miles before they could officially become lesson ponies. 

The first was Ellie Mae, a young (and entirely too smart) chestnut TB mare who had a penchant for rearing when you tried to get on. Once you were on tho, it was just a matter of smoothing out the details. Getting her consistent and comfortable. She could be snarky and preferred not to be touched, but could turn on a dime and had a beautiful forward rhythm. 


I had her nearly to myself for a few months since the rearing scared a lot of riders. The rearing initially came from a place of fear - and she had to be tacked in the wash stall otherwise she'd lose her ever-loving marbles. But being a smart and sensible mare, she eventually figured it out and the problem disappeared. (tho another tragic note, she succumbed to white line disease only a couple years later at what was still a very young age)



oh how i love this horse
Once Smellie was 'in the program' I was on to the next project: Lad. I've already written about him a bit on this blog, including when I rode him in a lesson last Labor Day Weekend

Lad was another relatively easy horse. His biggest issues revolved around the plain old brute strength it took to ride him. Like - the kind of ride where your arms feel 2" longer when you're finished. 



he has legs for days!
He is SUCH a good boy tho and really tries hard. So once he figured out how to canter like a normal horse around the corners v. careening wildly, and once he developed the strength to carry his own {massive} head rather than leaning on the rider - well, he actually turned into a bit of a lug! 

Lots of kids love him tho, and I had so much fun jumping the big stuff with him. He had snappy little knees even if the rest of him was fugly :) 




Where does that leave me now? With the adorable lease mare Isabel we all know and love! 

Isabel and I are doing things I've only ever dreamed of, and have developed what feels like a special partnership. Does that make her a 'heart horse'? Idk, probably right? I'm not likely to ever forget this time with her, and that seems to be what distinguishes the horses above from the rest. 


So yea, let's call her that. Despite the uncertainty in our situation (written about in one of Beka's blog hops) we can safely include her in the list of important horses in my life. 

22 comments:

  1. Awww, what a great background story! Thanks for participating :)

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  2. Heart horse has always seemed like a silly phrase to me. Every horse you have a connection with can be a heart horse, right? I mean, I could call Pig my heart horse. I love him dearly, but I wouldn't say that I wouldn't love any other horse I've been through as much with just as much. Yes? No? Maybe it would help if my horse was more affectionate... ;)

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    1. haha yea isabel isn't particularly affectionate either (unless you know what you're looking for), but yea i've always struggled with the 'heart horse' moniker

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  3. DUDE I learned to ride at the SAME KIND OF LESSON BARN with the nose-to-tail on the rail in a line group lessons. Crazy! Our "lead ponies" were called "junior instructors". I loved reading about the horses that 'stuck' with you during your early years. :)

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    1. lol memories, right??? those nose-to-tail lessons were super helpful tho, i could learn how to use my own muscles and post and all that without having to worry about steering... sometimes i wish i had the same luxury today too!!

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  4. dawww i love you and izzy together. Hope your lesson went well last night!

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    1. thanks! izzy definitely fits the ticket for me :D and yes the lesson was great - details forthcoming hopefully soon!!!

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  5. Aw, you and Izzy are such a good pair! It's nice to have a "love the one you're with" attitude, though- I think we could all embrace that. :)

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    1. that attitude definitely helps me out. i was a horse-starved city girl growing up (and really, i still am today haha) so i will take what i can get in that department and appreciate it :) of course having isabel around makes it that much easier!

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  6. So many horses. :-) Glad you're finding ways to have fun with all of them.

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    1. they've all changed me as a rider, that's for sure!

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  7. I agree on the "love the one you're with", as they all have something to teach us. Loved reading your memories of each (and drawing skills on fleek) :)

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    1. lol glad you appreciated the journal doodle... it took me FOREVER to find it, but i so clearly remembered that it existed so i was determined lol

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  8. So glad you had the opportunity to show all these horses some love. And I don't think you need to necessarily own a horse for it to become a "heart horse" either.

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    1. i think you're right - it's not really about the duration of the partnership vs. the impact, i guess. in all of these circumstances either the horse or i was made better for it, which is the kind of snowball effect i can get behind :)

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  9. Love Lad, and Izzy of course! You two are a great team!

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    1. thanks!!! i've always desperately wanted a Lad of my very own... and Isabel is so very very different from him that it took a while to appreciate her own attributes. but it's working out!

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  10. Totally agree with this post...I always find something to love, and can be happy with just about anything, but some horses are just more memorable than others!

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    1. that's the truth. generally speaking, we are horse lovers, right? but digging into the nitty gritty, there are always some that percolate up to the top of the list over and over again :)

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  11. i'm glad i'm not the only one who couldn't narrow it down to one. so many horses are special it's hard to pick one!

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    1. oh man, if only i had more pictures this list could have easily grown ten fold!!

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