After years of searching for my forever horse, I finally found him! It only took 4 years and going halfway across the country. (But it was totally worth it.)
If you’ve read some of my previous blog posts, you’ll know that I’ve been chasing the equestrian dream for years. My story is a typical one: I grew up riding, then stopped when I went to college. I got married, I become a mom, and then I decided to ride again. It’s a common journey for many women who love horses.
It’s been an adventure, to say the least, with its share of ups and downs. But I’m thrilled to share that after years – YEARS – of going after this dream, I finally found him. The ONE. My “forever horse.”
We had to go all the way to South Carolina to find him, but the beautiful boy you see pictured here is my new equestrian buddy. A 7-year-old Azteca gelding who started life sorting cows, and is now learning how to be a dressage horse. His movement is a dream and his personality is even better. He’s young, but brave, steady, and loves his people. He arrived in November and within a few days he would canter over to me from the far side of the field when I went out to get him. Let me tell you, the sight of a dark and handsome horse running towards you with his mane and tail flowing in the wind is a sight dreams are made of.
Finding this Guy Was NOT Easy!
I know what it’s like to see someone who has a nice horse and think, why was it so easy for them? But let me tell you something. Most if not all of the equestrians I know only found their “forever horse” after putting what non-equestrians might consider an insane amount of effort into the search. Truly, you have to WANT IT if you hope to find your needle in a haystack. Horse shopping is a soul-sucking experience that will ruin your faith in humanity and it is not for the weak or faint of heart.
So how did it unfold for me? Here is an abbreviated timeline encompassing 4+ years.
- Started taking horseback riding lessons after years out of the saddle.
- Bought a horse to share with my son.
- Had a serious riding accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury and 6 months of occupational therapy.
- Began taking lessons again 1 1/2 years after my accident, which was the soonest I could get on a horse.
- Leased a horse and got burned.
- Bought a horse and got burned.
- Took a break from riding to put pieces of my soul and heart back together.
- Leased a schoolmaster and started taking lessons again.
- Took more lessons on a bombproof Connemara.
- Decided I had the right trainer this time and I wanted to find my forever horse.
- Looked all over the Northeast, Florida, and the Southern US.
- Had a Lipizzaner mare on trial. She was so lovely but failed her PPE.
- Vetted a Lusitano gelding, who failed his PPE.
- Had a Quarter Horse gelding on trial. He was practically perfect until he failed his PPE.
- Found the Azteca gelding you see here!
I can’t tell you how many times people just told me to give up. But when horses are in your blood, you can’t stop thinking about them. Especially when the dream is seemingly within reach.
If You’re Chasing this Dream, Don’t Give Up
Riding horses isn’t for everyone. It’s a hard sport in every possible sense of the word demanding everything you have to give. My body has been broken, and my heart and soul have been bruised. But the incredible thing about the human spirit is that if you love something – really love it – your dreams can be bashed upon the rocks and you’ll still pick up the pieces, sew them back together and keep trying.
There is a form of Japanese art called Kintsugi, which means “the beauty of imperfections.” Practitioners of this art repair broken pottery by mending the breaks with gold, silver, or platinum. The belief is that the cracks make the pottery even more unique and beautiful. I think this applies to the equestrian dream. Wherever you are in your journey, however many times you’ve been burned or broken, if riding horses is what makes your soul sing don’t give up. Even when things look bleak. Every time you fall down, get right back up, repair your cracks with metaphorical gold, and embrace whatever lesson you’ve learned from the experience as something that will make you an even better rider; even more worthy of your mount when you finally find them.