This is a totally random thought. I feel that it might help someone so I decided to post. Every single horse that you cross paths with, have an impact on your life. Starting from the ponies that you rode at the county fair and going to the top of the top horse you have ridden and bonded with, they all have helped shape whom you have become as a horse person.
Growing up, my grandma always had horses. They were not show horses or competitive in any way except for when it was feeding time! These horses lived at the Zanek Ranch. There was a welsh/quarter cross named princess. She had a foal that foundered as a weanling. The red headed welsh cross was named Princess. Oh my. Princess was from hell. She loved to tuck her nose between her legs and take off running! Under trees, down fence lines, jumping random stuff… all with her pony head between her legs so there was no pulling up on her face. She taught me about so many things. Mostly, she taught me to figure out how to get out of sticky situations. She also planted a seed of doubt when it comes to mares in general. Now Grandma Zanek only had mares. So I can’t say I ruled them all out! That pony from hell was finally sold at auction when she tried to decapitate me under the loading shed. I lived. I was 10. I was never ever going to ride her again. Too many tuck and roll situations with that one.
Grandma had one named Lady. Lady was a huge, thick built, palomino paint. Her famous trick was to drop and roll in any mud. Y’all, she was 16 hands and THICK. She would see a little puddle and stop to roll in it. Of course, all we rode in was grazing bits. This was before my formal education on bits and bitting! That mare loved to get wet and muddy! I loved to put people I didn’t like on her and ride her daughter Brandy. Brandy was a chocolate paint crossed with some Tennessee walker. Most called her mean. She was just disrespectful until you got through her head that she was going to mind. About the time I really got with Brandy, I had learned about snaffles. I was enrolled in English riding classes and learned all about bits. My Grandma had a bag of bits and I found a nice, well leveraged, snaffle to put on Brandy. Guess what? That mare didn’t fight me! Well, she tried a few times then realized that the bit was a good deterrent from her evil ways. I didn’t have to be mean. I just had to learn how the bit worked and use it the right way. I loved the fact that I was the only one whom truly enjoyed riding that mare! We could do anything! Mostly bareback. I learned that I had to show her what I wanted and then let her figure it out. Then I’d praise her. She was always fun!
Grandma had an older retired barrel horse named Cheka. Now this mare would not tolerate a saddle. She also hated men. She would do pretty much anything for me, my grandma and a handful of other females. Put a man on her, she was going to run to the fence, slam on the front brakes and dump them quick! I used to sneak off in the woods with her on foot and climb on her back then ride all over just to slide off her and hand walk her back to the house so no one would “know” I rode her. Yeah, I’m pretty sure they knew by the bareback butt I sported! She taught me kindness. She also taught me a lot about balance and going fast bareback. Let’s just say that she lit a fire inside me for speed!
The lesson horse I rode in my English lessons was named Toto. Yup! He was 17+ hands high and a bit dull. He would love to balk at random things in the arena that he has seen a million times. He taught me to have a sticky seat and to pay attention to his body language! No way was I wanting to fall off that giant! I never did! I got to open him up from time to time when the instructor wasn’t paying attention! He was FAST and could jump! I learned really quick how to be sticky in the saddle! He also taught me that just because he was the c-string (yeah not even the b-string) of the stables, he had something to give! He gave it to me! Gah I miss him!
Now I could go through all of the rest of the horses that I have learned something from since I was 12. I’m now 44. There have been a LOT of horses!!! I learned that off the track horses need a lot of love and patience! I learned that blown up horses may need a totally different approach to anything due to the fact that they have literally been run into the ground. I learned that studs can be awesome to ride but to always be aware of the y gene that motivates them from time to time. I learned when to have soft hands. When you might need to have more contact. When you should not just jump on one because you think you can ride it. I learned when you have to trust your own skills and trust your horse. I have learned a lot about what makes this horse or that horse tick. But… EVERY SINGLE HORSE has taught me something. They have given to me what I gave to them. They have shown me what I am capable of, good or bad. They have literally shown me who I am. So cheers to all of the horses that have been a part of my life. They have made me me. Some have given me scars, scar tissue and possibly broken me in some way. Then they have rebuilt me. They have made me strong and soft at the same time. They have shown me their souls and stolen my heart. They are all a part of me wether they are from my past or future. So here is to the horses that shaped me, saved me, and built me.