In which we participate in Jane's Valentine's Day Love Festival
Jane asked in this post about how we came to love the horses we love. And since we celebrate the horses' birthdays on February 14th every year, it's a good time to tell this story!
Lemme tell ya, it's been a long journey to get to this:
It started with this: Pony Camp, circa 1976. I was about 12 years old, and finally deemed old enough by my parents and the Whatcom County Parks Department Summer Programs division to attend Pony Camp. Midnight was a fabulous pony (according to me): she would canter all day. On the last day of camp, we went on a trail ride--two hours in the woods on horseback. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.
My parents were sure that I'd grow out of it. Grownups, in their experience, didn't spend most of their waking hours either on a horse or wanting to be on a horse.
Nearly twenty years later, I finally bought a horse of my own:
My friend Trish took me up to the Standardbred track in Canada, where one of the trainers was selling off some horses. Most would end up on the meat truck. Trish looked at Story and said, "That one won't leave you broken and dead on the side of a mountain." High praise, from Trish. The next week, we brought her home.
Story stayed with me for the remainder of her life, about 12 years. (Part of her end-of-life story is here; have a hankie ready if you go to the link!)
Less than a week after she died, I got a call from Greener Pastures, the standardbred adoption agency in Canada.
They had heard about Story. They said they were proud, they said I was brave, they said I did the right thing.
They said they noticed I now had an empty stall.
They didn't say that the mare was huge, clumsy, and still growing.
They didn't say that the mare was a biter, and a kicker, and had enough powerful anger issues to light the city of Seattle for a month in winter.
They didn't tell me a lot of things that I learned about Fiddle in our first year together.
They didn't know that while I thought I wanted a short, sweet, sensible mare, what I actually needed was a gigantic mare with a need for calm leadership and strong, consistant boundaries. Well, hell. I've been training weird, neurotic dogs for most of my adult life. I've worked with teenagers for even longer. I have calm leadership and strong consistant boundaries.
And I have no skills whatsoever for turning away a challenge.
Fiddle learned to walk on trails--and later, to mark them with ribbons for endurance rides.She learned that every stupid outfit comes with at least one cookie. She learned that games are fun.
She learned that endurance rides are fun.
She still isn't short. Most people think she still isn't sweet.
But she is.
Shhhh. Don't tell everyone. It's a secret.