This is me. I am a mid 40's Adult Amateur Dressage Rider. In this picture I am fairly slender. I am not currently that. I am also 5'2. Not exactly the dream build for dressage. But it is what it is and here I am. I have had horses since I was 8 years old - I was a horsey kid, I am a horsey adult. I work full time in a management role and have several side jobs to help pay for my dressage <addiction> dreams. I have an amazing coach who got me to this point and I continue to see her regularly. I also have husband extraordinaire who is very supportive and is my biggest cheerleader at all times. I consider myself an average adult ammy. My persistence is what wins the day, it is not about talent or money. I do not take myself very seriously either, it is important to be able to laugh at yourself! Dressage should be fun. Horses in general should be fun. If it is not fun you are doing something wrong and you probably need more/different/other help.
Up until (well since Oct 2007) June 2020 I had an amazing Friesian mare. She took me from uneducated H/J rider to the FEI ring and every step along the way was amazing... No it was not, it was hard work, difficult to teach a solid non bending body to do upper level dressage (and hard for her too!) and filled with ups and downs. When I lost her, in the middle of first real pandemic in 100 years, the depression was real. The pandemic 50 came back, the lethargy set in, I watched a lot of Netflix and ate a lot of Doritos.
Back up. The year before I lost my mare (Miss H), she sustained an injury. I missed the injury initially since she generally had no pain receptors and soldiered on regardless. She went to a horse show in May and my usually constantly moving around horse stood in her stall. We showed Inter B (we were showing the Med Tour) and in the extended trot there was a slight, tiny, uncharacteristic bobble. I noticed it, my coach noticed it, we scratched our heads. The next morning there was a teeny swelling on her left front. I scratched the show and took her home where she was diagnosed with a tendon injury. A tendon injury that was already healing, well crap. I am a terrible horse mom. The reality was, my mare was so tough she did not show pain like a normal horse and the living out meant the swelling stayed down. I am actually not a terrible horse mom after all! In fact, most people seemed to think I was insane for scratching, but I knew my horse and I cared more about her than about the ribbons.
This picture is actually from that test. To prove I am not a complete idiot and riding my lame horse.
3 months of paddock rest later, she developed Megaesophagus. I feel like there is a connection between the injury and illness but that's for another day. Choking episodes are traumatic on everyone but we fought back and she ate soupy Purina Senior (literally that is it. No hay, no cubes, no grass, nothing) for about 11 months until her issues advanced and we lost the battle.
This account is highly abbreviated and I may go in to detail at some point, but is only really here for background. I will say, Friesians have a crazy amount of genetic issues and while they are absolutely amazing, they come with significant heartbreak.
2 weeks after Miss H was gone I saw an ad that caught my eye. I will not go into the failed vettings on 2 other horses. Now, fighting something like Megaesophagus is costly. The past year was expensive. VERY expensive. The budget was almost nonexistent for a new horse (although it grew monthly with no board to pay). The chances of finding something was very small. I messaged the seller and she sent me a 15 second video of him moving which changed everything. He could move! The downside? this horse was an 11 hour drive away, or a 90 min flight away. But see, we are in a Pandemic and flying is of NO interest to me. Driving it is! So I gathered up a newly out of work (pandemic again) amazing friend and off we headed for a weekend 11 hours from home.
Cue what I affectionately called the "Small Brown Gelding" (SBG). Remember, I am going from an Aston Martin of a horse. One that everyone looked at admiringly. One that was majestic standing still. One that had a fan club. One that mastered all of the dressage moves with me clinging to her back.
The "Small Brown Gelding" upon first meeting.
He is half Friesian. and Half TB (a breed I said I would never own again after always having Tb's for most of my life), 4 years old and unstarted. But he has something. I spend a total of 2 hours on this farm messing with the SBG (Maverick) and seeing his relatives. Oh and I apparently have forged a life long friendship with his breeder. Who was amazingly honest and the only horse I have every gone to see that was *exactly* as described.
This SBG spoke to me. He said "I need to see a farrier" and "I will try what you ask but I have no idea how to lunge" and "You can basically climb all over and around me and I am fine with it". We left the farm and over dinner I made a deal for him. Rarely am I that comfortable with a strange horse, and the decision was easy.
Lost Miss H June 1
Saw Ad June 16
Arranged to Visit July 10
Bought horse July 10
Horse arrived Aug 2
For those two months of non-horse ownership (this is not strictly true. I have not mentioned the old TB mare I have and have had for 23 years - she lives with a friend and a story for another time), I watched TV including a crazy number of Ru Paul's Drag Race seasons.
Aug 2 (after leaving his home 5 days previous with a longer than anticipated stop in another city), just before sunset he arrived.
Well crap. My average ammy self now has to start a horse. It has been 15 years since I started a horse and my last one came backed. Just backed. But at least she lunged already and I could sit on her. I am no longer 30, I do not bounce so well, and I have not ridden consistently in over a year.
Here goes nothing...