Endurance Riding

Feb 14 2011

Love Story

Published by under Endurance Riding

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I was about to turn 27. I had grown up riding my entire life, but I had never had a horse of my own. I was in college. In fact, I had just been accepted into the competitive nursing program at Chico State University. The news of the acceptance was both exciting and terrifying. It was a time in my life when I was making many adjustments and changes. The previous Christmas had been a difficult one and I was currently suffering from anxiety. I never would have thought I could afford a horse. I wasn’t even looking for a horse. I just wanted to ride.

I had gone an entire month without riding. I stopped taking lessons at a hunter jumper barn when the mare I had been riding was about to foal. A couple leases later that didn’t work out left me without a horse to ride. That’s when I emailed Jen. I had been holding on to her email address for over a month after a friend told me Jen needed help exercising her horses. I received a reply to my email within 20 minutes, something I was not expecting.

When I first met Jen and her horses, I was taken aback. She had two small mares, each one about 15 hands. Their manes were long, their coats had grown out for the winter, and their hooves were barefoot. I was used to 17 hand warmbloods, with sleek coats and managed manes and tails, living in tailored stalls with shoes on their hooves that made that distinct clip-clop sound in the aisle of the barn.

I don’t remember riding one of her mares the first day I went out to Jen’s. I remember driving home feeling apprehensive, wondering if this was going to be another horse situation that just didn’t work out.

However, I began studying Parelli Natural Horsemanship at Jen’s request (luckily, I had some Parelli videos and books my mother had given me as Christmas gifts). I returned to Jen’s to ride and for the first time, I rode out on the trail, bareback and bitless. I could not believe I had been riding for more than twenty years and I had never ridden bareback. I had always had a bit.

At first I preferred to ride Zephyr. She was the horse who had more training, who was more trustworthy, who didn’t have bad habits. But every time I went out to the paddock to catch Zephyr, she put her ears back and walked away from me. Asali, however, would come up to me in the paddock, as if she wanted to go out. As if she wanted to be with me.

It was not long before I fell in love with Asali. Sure, she was difficult to handle sometimes. She would head toss. She ran away with me once. She could be herd bound and barn sour. But somehow, we were just stuck with each other and we worked it out.

I began riding Asali several times a week and after a couple months, I asked Jen if she would ever consider selling Asali. I knew at the time that I was not in a position to afford a horse, but I thought it was safe to ask because I knew Asali wasn’t for sale.

I can’t tell you exactly what happened, but on March 19, 2009, I gave Jen a $40 deposit for Asali. This was towards a purchase price of $500, a fraction of what Jen had paid for Asali as a four-year-old, five years previous. And since I had nowhere to keep a horse, Asali stayed at Jen’s. I paid for all of Asali’s expenses, plus I gave Jen $50 a month for board, a steal of a deal. When Jen signed the agreement of sale, I remember her saying, โ€œEvery horse deserves to have someone love her.โ€

Asali is the first horse I have ever bonded with โ€“ maybe because she is the first horse I have ever spent enough time with to get to know. Or maybe it is just simply because I have found a new way to ride. I have recognized that Asali has her own language, and when I listen, it takes me on a path of self discovery.

endurance-riding

Asali and I, Summer 2009

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Love Story”

  1. Ann Byrnson 20 Feb 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Your story of how you bonded with Asali brought tears to my eyes, even though I know the story already and remember that exciting time. I feel sorry for any person who hasn’t had the chance to bond with a horse. The relationship can’t be adequately described–one has to experience it to know why horse people are so crazy about their animals!

  2. JayaMaeon 03 Mar 2011 at 8:27 am

    Horse people are just plain crazy, huh? Every morning, I feed the horses before I feed myself. And when the power goes out, the generator doesn’t give us heat, but it keeps the water refilling in the barns. I may be low on grocery money, but I sure as heck make sure I have money for hay! What can I say? Horses are my life.

  3. Heatheron 19 Apr 2011 at 11:20 pm

    It looks like you girls both found each other when you needed someone the most. So sweet. Proud of you Ish!

  4. Carol Baileyon 20 Apr 2011 at 3:09 am

    Hey,
    I learned to ride bareback at age 3 on our old pinto palomino “Teddy”, the same one in my fb profile pic…. he was trustworthy enough to allow my Mom to boost us up and let us ride around the farm land for hours without supervision! Next we graduated to my Dad’s aging mustang he raised and had when he was in highschool, her name was”Lightning”. I didn’t have my very first own horse until about 3rd grade and she too was a palomino named “Missy”, then came “Caballo” a bay gelding. None of our horses were ever slightly fancy or registered or had any special training. We just spent hours riding them on country roads, in 4H drill teams and parades and occasionally in a funky horse show. They all taught us to be confident riders and to respect and marvel at their strength, beauty and intelligence. It truely is in your “blood” when you can’t live without the companionship of a horse. We are so very LUCKY! And yes, I spend way more at the farm/feed store than I do at the grocery store! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. JayaMaeon 22 Apr 2011 at 12:51 am

    Heather,

    I feel so blessed not only to have my horses, but to be able to share them with my children. We often underestimate the impact animals have on our lives.

    Thanks for reading my blog, my friend. I hope you’ll come visit so I can introduce your children (especially Brooklyn) to Asali and our other horses.

    And to Carol:

    I love you and your horse stories! Let’s go riding together soon.

    Love, Jaya

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