Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bringing home Cupid

When Dee passed away in May 2013, I didn't think I could ever love another horse. I had Dee for 18 years, and we were a great team and the best of friends. We used to go on long trail rides, horse shows, and pony club meetings. Then as she got older we would just go on walks and I scratched the itchy spot on her belly. When she was gone, I thought I was done with horses for good. Indeed for the next several months I kept busy with work and school and trained for a 50k race, until one day I realized I missed riding. I started taking lessons twice a week and enjoyed riding several different horses and learning different things from each. There were days when I had either a very good ride, or a bad one, and I couldn't help but think how it would be if I rode Dee that day and I cried with how much I missed her. I reminisced a lot, I'm sure some of the other people at the barn are sick of hearing my stories about Dee. Then one day I just felt like I'm ready for a new horse of my own. Dee can never be replaced and I still miss her, but I was ready to make new memories and try to give another horse the best life I can.
DD One Bar ("Dee") 1985-2013 Enjoy the green meadows without pain my friend.

I started looking at horses for sale online. I found a nice 9 year old gelding that sounded good, so I forwarded the ad to my trainer. She was excited and said let's go see him. I found a few other ads that sounded promising and she got a few leads as well. Our first visit was to a thoroughbred farm to look at a four year old gelding who was too slow to even make it to the racetrack. The owner said she had a few other horses available as well. The second horse she brought out was a little 3 year old gelding who actually had won a race as well as placed second and third a few times. The owner said he always tried hard but she didn't think he would be able to move up much, and he raced two weeks ago but she thought he should move on to a non-racing home. This little guy was more interested in standing next to us and giving nuzzles than running around the arena. We got him to run enough that my trainer could see he had nice movement so we asked if we could ride him. I groomed him in his stall and he was very behaved even when I touched his belly and picked up all four feet. He nuzzled me and just wanted to snuggle. The horse had never worn a regular english saddle but was not bothered when I placed it on his back. My trainer got on him first and walked, trotted, and cantered both directions. He got the correct canter lead on each side. Then it was my turn. I tried not to feel too nervous. Jockeys usually get boosted up while the horse is being led at a walk, so he was not used to standing next to a mounting block and my trainer held his head while I got on. We set off at a walk, and it felt smooth. He was not used to leg aids and just ignored my heels. At least it did not make him run or jump! We did a nice smooth trot, and I directed him in some big circles and serpentines and direction changes. This was all new and confusing to him but he was calm and cooperative. I liked him, though wasn't sure if I was ready for such a green horse. I thanked the owner and went off to see the next horse. Over the next few days I went and saw several horses. I liked most of them, and thought about what the next few months as well as long term possibilities would look like with each horse and thought about how difficult it would be to choose. But there was only one that I always smiled when I thought about him, and I realized I showed several people (non-horsey people who probably thought I was nuts) his picture saying I might buy this horse. So I realized I had already made my decision, I wanted the little three year old gelding!
I called his owner and told her I wanted to have a vet look at the horse and if everything looked okay I was ready to buy him! I asked my sister to come with me, in case it got too overwhelming. A horse is a huge commitment, and for a moment it was almost too much to handle and I wanted to run away. When I finally got him back to the boarding stable I finally took a deep breath and was happy. I decided to call my horse Cupid because he is a sweetheart and was born on Valentine's Day. This blog will serve as a memoir of my journey with Cupid, as he changes from racehorse to riding horse and hopefully one day a hunter-jumper show horse.

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