While I haven’t been able to spend a ton of time in the saddle with my personal horse these last seven months, I have found myself a riding outlet with a temporary mount named Sparky.
A Good Distraction
Once my mare was finally on the mend after her second surgery, I found myself getting restless at the barn. At this point it had been about three months since I had ridden. And the only time I spent around horses involved the word colic—not really the most fun part of horse ownership.
My friends, who also happen to be the barn owners where I keep Keira, decided I needed a project to keep me from going crazy while I waited for my mare to return to work. This might have been the longest I had gone without riding in my life. And I could feel myself getting anxious.
Keeping the Goals
The barn I’m at is part horse rescue and part training barn, and on the rescue side of things they had a roughly 7-year-old cow-horse-bred gelding named Sparky that needed a new job. I decided to take him on as a project and started teaching him ranch riding. He picked up on everything so quickly that I decided to take him to a local open show after 10 days of riding to see how he did in a show environment. While I had only planned on taking him to the show to ride around and gain experience, he did so well I decided to see how he’d do in the show pen and entered him in a ranch riding class. He ended up second place. Which isn’t bad for a horse that hadn’t been to a show and had to compete under lights in the dark because of how late the show ran!
I’ve always been a very goal-focused rider. So, when I found myself without a goal to work toward, I found myself a little lost. Obviously, my main goal was getting Keira healthy, but that’s something that just takes a lot of time and patience. Having Sparky kept me busy, and competing with him at local horse shows gave me a goal to work toward.
Since that first show, I’ve taken Sparky to two additional shows. There, he’s won at least one of the ranch riding classes each time he’s gone out. He’s starting to figure out the horse show life. And even better, he’s been consistent every time he goes into the show pen.
Now that the show season is starting to wind down here in Colorado, my focus is shifting from horse shows to getting Sparky even more finished for the next horse show season. I hope that I can get him finished enough that a beginner rider, who is looking to get involved in local horse shows and competing in different events, has a quiet, consistent horse that thrives in a horse-show environment. And Sparky is on his way to being just that.
Guess Who’s Back
My saddle is getting some more use these days, and not just with the riding time I’m getting in with Sparky. Keira was officially OK’d to go back to work … slowly. We spend most of our time walking under saddle or working in the round pen. But, it feels good to finally be back on my heart horse. And boy was she ready to get back to work!
Keira’s eyes always tell me everything I need to know. When death was coming for her, I could tell she wasn’t ready to give up. I gave her the opportunity to fight. Now when I look in her eyes, I see happiness when I pull her out to go into the arena to do our walking sessions.
This mare is tough and she’s gritty. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. Because when she came eye to eye with death, she said not today. And her story reminds me to always keep fighting for another day.