For the past 20+ years, my husband and I have been busy balancing careers and our family life. We have raised two strong, independent, horse-loving daughters and we’ve purchased our share of horses for each of them to pursue their dreams in the show arena and more importantly to learn some valuable life lessons, outside the arena. Horses have taught our daughters so much. I’d be lying if I told you I could list each one of them but integrity, honesty, the importance of hard work and being true to yourself immediately come to mind . Our daughters, and our family discovered every single joy and heartache that is involved with owning and loving horses. We are grateful for each and every single one of those lessons because they have cemented us together as a family. We are both blessed and grateful.
As most parents do, I wonder where the years have gone. I loved every single minute watching my daughters compete in equestrian events. I marveled at the journey each took in becoming self-assured, confident and accomplished horsewomen and individuals over the years. Horses gave them so many great opportunities and life lessons. Through the years, my own childhood dream of owning my own horse and learning my own life-lessons began to gently re-surface, tugging at my heart and head. Was I crazy to want my dream, even in my mid-50’s?
There were seemingly a million reasons why, at this stage in my life, owning my own horse just wasn’t feasible. My ankles are reinforced with titanium screws, they hurt when it’s cold and I need a new knee. Arthritis and fibromyalgia play a huge part in the long and not-all-that-attractive process of mounting and un-mounting. Of course there was the ever-present fear of affordability as I consider retirement and I would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention my fears of falling off. The truth of the matter is I just don’t bend or bounce like I used to.
And yet, my desire to finally realize my childhood dream trumped (no political pun intended) my fears so I forged ahead and began my journey. Once I decided that my fears weren’t going to get the best of me, I was full-throttle ahead and I was looking at my fears and trepidation in the rear-view mirror. Well, most of the time anyway.
Given the work I do in the equine world, the people I know in this amazing equine world and my accumulated years of experience in horse shopping for and with my daughters, I was convinced I’d find the perfect equine partner, quickly. Quickly as in a ‘few days’…that kind of quickly. At this stage in my story, I should point out one important thing: patience is not one of my virtues.
I spent hours on the phone with contacts and friends, detailing my ‘criteria’: very well-broke, big , gentle, good-minded, not spooky, kind and sound. I needed a confidence-building horse and one that would be familiar and comfortable with my sometimes long, slow and even arduous adventures up and down the steps of the old mounting block. Not a tall order, at least in my mind. Let’s just say I was a bit ‘blissfully’ unaware of just how this process would test my patience, decision-making skills and sanity. In the spirit of full-disclosure is required here: my hubby questions my sanity on a fairly regular basis but that’s a story for another day.
I scoured countless photos and ads and watched hours of videos. (Note: I feel it’s my ‘civic-duty’ at this point to provide my own, insightful and helpful advice to sellers: i: if you’re trying to sell your horse, please shoot a video that is larger than the size of a postage stamp. If a magnifying glass is needed to even find your horse in the video, you’re either trying to hide something or you really don’t care about putting your horses best foot forward. Either way, I’m not going to call you and schedule time to come visit and most people who are earnestly searching for the ‘right fit’, won’t either. There, rant over and back to the story at hand).
Over the course of several months I, along with my entourage (daughters, their boyfriends and even my hubby) logged several hundred miles, sometimes at -45 degrees to visit horses I was interested in. Months passed. I rode the good, the bad, the scary. I learned a lot about myself and was given new insights into purchasing horses. I agonized over the horses who were stuck with individuals who had no clue about training, training horses or for that matter, training spaghetti noodles. I felt bad, leaving them behind to face an unknown fate. It was heart-wrenching and disappointing and tested my patience, faith in humanity and even whether I had made the right decision to purchase my very own horse.
And then it happened.
I found him. Him, being a 7 year old registered Paint who was gentle, kind, massive in both body and heart and sound. He stands patiently while I make the long and winding trip up and down what my favorite, retired Vet & good friend refers to as ‘the stairway to heaven’ (aka my mounting block). He was absolutely worth the wait. As an added benefit, he has personality plus and together we’re learning a lot about each other and I’m discovering every single ounce of joy that comes with having found the right horse for me.
Max is helping me with my confidence. I’m helping him understand he’s really and truly home. For good. After all these years of watching in the wings, I’m really discovering the joy and work required on this journey Max and I are on and I can say my “In Search Of” came to a happy conclusion, for both Max and I!
How about you? I’d love to hear your “In Search Of…” stories about finding your equine partner or an equine partner for a family member so please feel free to share your story with us at Horse Family!
Until Next Time!