What Brought Me Here

I was born addicted to horses.

I would beg my parents to slow down when driving past horses. I don't ever remember a time that I wasn't in love. When I was 6 years old I got to go on my first trail ride. We went to a small forest that had trails and my parents let me ride a small black and white pony on my own. I rode the pony  in saddles and no helmet. You have to love the early 80's.

Right after hoping on the pony, something spooked it. I don't remember this happening, but the story was told at many a holiday dinners for years to come. He took off into the woods at a gallop. My mother screamed and my dad tried running after me. The trail leader jumped on his horse to come get me, but by then I was back out of the woods, with the largest grin on my face.

My parents started taking me to lessons soon after.

My first official lesson was at a small farm. She had several school horses, and a magnificent stallion named Major Victory. He was beautiful and I remember drawing pictures of him all over everything I owned. When I met the trainer Tracey, she talked to my mom about putting me on a horse, since my legs were much too long for any of her ponies. My mom, who knew nothing of horses, agreed and that's when I got to met Misty.

Misty was an Appaloosa. She was all white, and she was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Misty taught me more in the years I rode her. She taught me to be brave, she taught me to be patient. I rode Misty for about 5 years. As I got better at riding, I started jumping. She was such a good horse. I'm sure I looked horrible, but she trucked me around that arena without a problem.

One day, to describe the amazement of Misty, I was going to show off for my mom. I was so excited and didn't check the girth. I hopped up, and away we went at the Canter. At the first turn, I came off. I landed on my head and stayed there. Misty, walked over to me and put her face in mine and nudge it. My mother, walked over asked if I was okay and made me get back in the saddle. Something I am very thankful for now.

I hopped back on Misty after I tightened the girth (something I'm always very aware of now) and tried to get her to canter again. She refused. It was the first time she had ever refused to do what I asked. I loved that horse.

She was amazing. She is what I think every horse should be like.

I stopped riding. I missed Misty terribly, but the trainer's daughter was into showing and every time I'd go to the barn, she'd show off her expensive horse and take over the entire arena. I wasn't assertive, and I didn't like confrontation.

A few years later I ran into my old trainer. She told me that Misty had colic over the winter and had died. She was 26, and the sweetest thing on four legs.

Fast forward 15 years. I moved to the Seattle area with my husband. I was scrolling the pages of Craigslist when I saw a barn looking for a handy man. I replied. I could fix fences, I could paint, I thought I'd try. The trainer offered me lessons in exchange for cleaning stalls.

That's where I met Yukon. Yukon was a 20 year old ex-eventer with the patience of a saint. It had been 15 year since my last formal lesson. Yukon and I were together for almost two years. He wasn't as patient as Misty, but he was still a huge confidence builder. He was my love, and he will always share that special place in my heart that horses belong.

One month shy of our 2 year anniversary I bought Denali, and said good bye to riding Yukon. I still fed him treats and loved on him until I moved to Denmark. He went to a "forever home" and Denali went with a friend while I was thousands of miles away. 

I bought Denali at the auction in Enumclaw.. I brought my wallet, and had no intentions on buying anything that day, much less a horse. I am deeply in love with Yukon, I couldn't imagine another horse I could love as much. Plus, I was leaving for 6 months so I'd only have 2 months to bond with the horse. 

At the auction we walked around the little, dark, dirty pens and looked at the horses. Some were so beautiful, it broke my heart to see them so terrified. I questioned the organization skills of the people running the auction. Who would put a stallion next to a mare in heat? Crazy. I looked at all horses, 32, I counted as I went. Some I really liked, some could hardly stand on the three good legs they had left. It was super sad. I wanted to rescue the ones who had no life left in their eyes and give them an honorable end to their life.

That's when it happened, I turned the corner and from the dark corner of the last paddock she stood. Her head dropped down, with a sleepy look in her face. She was enormous and she was beautiful. There was just something about here that drew me to her. We talked to her "owner" (more on that later) and found out that she was a 3 year old Appendix. She looked at me with this look of "PLEASE"  I was in love and there was no turning back. I had ridden when I was young, and had a lot of confidence in myself (at the time-it's amazing what a green horse does to your confidence.)It was the same feeling I got when I saw my husband for the first time. I just knew that she was my horse.

She stood there chewing on her lead rope, and every time her "owner" turned to look at her she would drop it quickly. It was really cute, at least at the time it was.

The next thing I knew she entered the arena and the bidding started. I didn't have a bidding number since I wasn't buying anything. I grabbed my friends bidding number and proceeded to bid on her. I easily won. I got my 3 year old Appendix! I was on cloud 9. I have never been so excited in my entire life! The fact that my husband and I had discussed getting a horse, and the fact that he didn't think we had enough money to take care of one went to the back of my head. I had Lillian, her new name, and I didn't care (at the time.)

My hubby works in Alaska for the whole summer, and the only way to contact him is by 
writing letters.

We brought Lillian home. She hopped right into the trailer and if she could reach she probably would have tied her self up. She was so sweet!! What a perfect name for a perfect horse.

Things change a lot in the 50 or so miles that it took to bring her home.... I'm not sure what happened to my sweet Lillian I bought... out of the trailer came the Devil herself. You would have thought we brought home a wild Mustang Stallion from Nevada the way she was running and bucking and rearing in the arena. It was nuts!! No comfort to me was everyone looking asking me, "what are you going to do now?" Gulp. 

We did lots of work and she quickly improved. . In the first week I learned that she was a TB (she threw a shoe.) She was sold by a jockey's wife, and she was 4 years old. I learned that Lillian was WAY TOO sweet of a name. I decided on Denali since my hubby was in Alaska. I loved her, and she loved me. When I went to Denmark my heart ached for her daily. I dreamed of her daily, and couldn't wait to get back to Seattle.

After five months I returned to Seattle and a vastly different horse. This horse was angry and depressed. She was not the horse I bought. She was 200 pounds underweight, and all her manners were gone. I got on her, I should have waited, but I hopped up and she scared the crap out of me. I'd go to her stall, and she'd turn and try to kick me. There is no way for me to describe her behavior. All the confidence that I had got from Misty and Yukon was gone. I thought about selling her, I thought about running and crying. My husband told me to try a new barn before I tried to sell her. 

Denali is at a new barn and her manners are back. I wish I could say that about my confidence. This blog is about me trying to find my long lost confidence while working with a green OTTB.

Welcome to our ride! I hope you don't get thrown off (ha, ha, ha, okay, bad joke I know!)