Saturday, August 15, 2009
I've had Greta for over two months now, and yet the entire concept of actually having a horse to love and ride is still a bit unreal. A horse of my own has only been a dream in my head since I was seven, when I had my first riding lesson on a cross Shetland mare ironically name Jiffy, and surely I had wisps of that dream even before then.
But now, it's real. Really real.
After working with rescue horses and lesson horses for so many years, I'm used to horses coming and going. I'll get very attached to one, and then they go to a new home. I'm happy for them, because they'll be with that special someone forever. I was left in the dust awaiting the next horse to come along so I could help them, too.
Once Claudia left, things began to settle in place it seems. Slugger, the charismatic quarter horse I took my first dressage lessons on and went to my first show with, had moved up to Tyler with my first instructor, his owner. A few months later, Claudia went to her new home. I thought that perhaps I might have her forever, since I had been there the day she was picked up and I had been there through all of her surgeries and incidents for four years. So when she left, I really felt left in the dust.
And then along came this Craigslist ad with a fuzzy picture of a white horse grazing and her head turned away from the camera. Not the most attractive picture, but the mare was said to be trained in dressage and very nice. My family and I had been looking. Just looking. Not really taking anything serious. Usually the nice horses are also the unreachable horses, right? They're too expensive, too far away. But not this mare. We might just take a look.
Driving up that dirt road, in my tan jodhpurs and leather boots fitted over a downsizing swollen ankle from a previous horse incident (not fun trying to cram tall boots over) and a polo on so I could look somewhat nice, I didn't know what to expect. We were looking at this mare first because her owner had gotten back with us first. That's all. I wasn't setting myself up too high....
But I saw this mare's pretty face nicely tied to the trailer, her bright inquisitive eyes looking at me, her growing mane sticking straight up, and the most beautiful grey coat I had ever seen glowing the Texas sun. She had me from the first sniff of my hand, the first casual head scratch against my arm, and the first big breath of horse air when I breathed into her nose.
But I had to try her out under saddle too. Already I was giddy of the prospect of not just owning a horse, but this horse. I could actually ride her too!
She listened to my aids, as muffled and rusty as they were, and she tried to please me as best as she could. She even did a half pass when I unintentionally asked her to! This was the one, there couldn't be any other. My grin said, "cancel all the other offers. This is it. This is her."
But the vet came the next day. She had to have a physical examination, and she flunked. He thought he felt something wrong with her leg. My hopes were crushed. Once again, another horse passed by and left me in the dust.
But I guess there was something in my absolute and unconditional enthusiasm towards this particular horse that pushed the x-ray to happen the next day. She was flawless standing in the x-ray room and being put in and out of the vet stock for over an hour-and-a-half. It was all worth it: it was a false alarm. She was clear.
When I came out to the barn, and took Greta - and it felt so sweet to say, "my horse" - out of her stall and out into the pasture, it all felt dreamy. This was something I could only keep to myself in daydreams and taken away from me in nightmares. But now it was all real. Really real.
It's real enough so I can honestly say, "my horse is my best friend and my own little charismatic, dazzling, elegant, grey miracle."