Did you ever stop and ask yourself, at any given moment, how you got to be at your current place and time? For good or ill, sometimes it’s a good idea to look back at the choices you made 5, 10, 20, or more years ago and think about how those choices led you down the path to your current place in your life’s journey.
And then, sometimes it’s just luck.
I was always the nerdy kid with (almost) no friends that wanted a pony. Every birthday, every Christmas, I really wanted a pony. We had plenty of other pets—dogs, cats, chickens, animals kept for 4-H projects like sheep, cattle, goats, and so on. But it was always a horse that eluded me, and a horse I never gave up on. It finally happened for me at age 29.
At 29 I finally got my first horse. He was, in fact, was Bars’ younger brother. People often refer to multiple pets as siblings, but in this case it was the actual truth—my first horse was Bars’ younger brother Tecate. (I’m not responsible for that name either.) Tecate is a tale for another day, so for now we’ll just say that Bars came along about a year later, when I was 30 and he was nine.
I was a new horse owner then, and I bought Bars for the absolute worst reason possible—he was Tecate’s brother, I loved the stallion, and, like an idiot, I thought Bars would be just like his father and brother. O dear, did I have it wrong!
As it happened, Bars had had some unfortunate things happen to him before we found each other, and, as one trainer described it, he had learned that he couldn’t trust his rider. This is a bad lesson for a horse to learn, and a difficult one to un-learn, especially for a horse with a novice rider. Someone with more riding experience than I had would have undoubtedly gotten him past his many fears and quirks long before I was able to, but I had some good help, was in no particular rush, and felt pretty strongly that giving up would be a disservice to both of us. So I hung in there. We did lots and lots of ground work—for any non-horse people reading this, that means I spent a lot of time doing things with him that didn’t involve riding, like leading him over poles, teaching him to back up with just a tap on the chest, and to respond to voice commands. Rather like training a dog, in fact. I read books, I went to lectures at my local university’s vet school, and I subscribed to Equus magazine. But the bottom line was…I spent time with my horse, which is really what he needed. And the relationship grew.
As the years went on, we learned new things together. We moved from an area that had basically flat, unfenced terrain to one where there were all kinds of trail obstacles like gates and creeks, so we had to learn how to open (and close) gates, cross creeks without being afraid of invisible horse-eating crocodiles, and negotiate some steep and rocky terrain.
22 years later, Bars is not the same horse he was when we found each other, and I am not the same woman I was when I was 30. It’s been an interesting and eventful “ride” together, and it ain’t over yet! I’m so lucky that I made that dumb choice to buy a chestnut horse that nobody else really wanted.