I’ve never been a big believer in fate or meetings with destiny. But something weird happened to me the other day. I was cruising on my local craigslist as we do, and I landed on a nice collection of bits. So I contacted the seller and got this sweet deal on a nice Baucher bit with a french link.
When we met up to exchange wares, we started talking about what kind of riding we each do. Both of us ride dressage. Both of us have been to Arabian Youth Nationals. Both of us used to work with my former trainer.
She turned out to be an old acquaintance, Lynn, from back in my high school days when I was a working student for my former trainer. As it turned out, Lynn has several horses and she was about to go pick up another. This horse used to be the main competition horse for a youth rider that had decided to retire him. I recognized the horse as one I had been drooling over since I first saw him all those years ago. He’s a gorgeous saddlebred/arabian cross with three incredible, expressive gaits. I never got to ride him back then, but even if I had been allowed, I don’t think I would have been able to handle him.
As I stood there in the rain next to her car window with my new bit in my greedy paws, Lynn casually invited me to “come ride sometime”. Normally, I would have blown it off, but this was too good a deal to pass up. So I called her back, and after playing phone tag for a week, we finally sealed the deal. I finally got to ride him.
It’s like he hasn’t aged a bit. He’s 21 years young; I guess saddlebreds and arabs are the equine aging equivalent of Asians. His registered name is Color Me Not, but I’ve only ever known him as Tali. He’s a tall, elegant gentleman with a very animated face and intelligent eyes.
We had to dig through her shed to find tack that would fit him, since Lynn is kind of retired from riding due to health issues. Apologies for not having many pictures for this post (my phone died), but I’ll try to get some this weekend for you.
I rode him in the round pen first, because we didn’t know how he would do with this being his first ride after a few years of retirement. After a while, it was apparent that he had his head on straight and I got to take him out into the pasture, which has a gorgeous rectangle plateau built up as a flat arena.
I don’t know how to describe our first ride without sounding weird. He just felt so good underneath me. All I had to do was think about what I wanted to do and he was already doing it. He was everything I’ve been missing out on in my practice at home horses: sensitive, intuitive, flexible, amazing work ethic. He never left me hanging. I asked him a question and he was right there with the answer. We did an impromptu flying lead change (my first ever success in that department), and he gave me a lovely lengthened trot, which I haven’t gotten to really try in years.
It was some crazy telepathic centaur juju. Lengthen stride? Bam, I’m there. Collect in the corners? Heck yeah, let’s do it. Sail across the arena in a leg yield? Sure thing. My cheeks actually hurt after riding him from smiling so much. I’m starstruck. I think about Tali all day, just waiting for the clock to strike three so I can get my butt in the saddle. I’m almost afraid to keep riding him for fear of ruining him.
But ride I must. I’m addicted. Lynn basically gave me free rein (heh heh) to ride him whenever I want. And the best part? She lives only ten minutes away from my work, so when I get off in the afternoon I can zip right over and get my fix.
I’m so excited that I finally have a horse that I can really practice on between lessons. Also, Lynn invited me to take him to a little schooling show in April and compete him in whatever classes I want. The prospect of getting back into showing is mega exciting for me.
But there’s a catch, too. In exchange for letting me ride this incredible national champion gem of a horse, I am going to help Lynn start her little six-year-old Arabian mare, Kahlua and Cream (Kally). Kally is a cute tiny chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail and an oversized personality. She’s extremely friendly and in your pocket, but also skittish with loud noises and visual distractions. She’ll probably be a handful, but I’m so ready to start a forward-thinking horse, one that thinks as fast as her feet move.
It’s like that saying: when a door closes, a window opens. It’s not the right timing for me to take on that free quarter horse from my trainer, but I still get to go through the training process and I get to ride an amazing dressage superstar for the cherry on top. That’s like a door closing, then me saying “screw it,” and taking a sledge hammer to the entire wall.
Moral of the story–just say yes. Say yes to everything you can, because you don’t know what amazing things can come from it, and even if it doesn’t work out as planned, you’ll still have a story to tell.
Happy riding, people!