The picture I have chosen has no title, no name to identify itself. It's just a picture of my pony, Leia and me at our first show together, June 2006. Leia is my first and only horse. I got her when I was only 12 and she was just a four year old, the ages we were in the photo. It seems capricious for a young girl's first horse to be a green four year old, and looking back, it probably wasn't the smartest move in the world. But somehow, we fit perfectly together. |
We shared a lot of firsts that year, like this first place ribbon from the first class of our first show together as a team. We grew up together, learned from each other, and formed a bond I didn't think was possible. We had a bumpy start; neither of us really knew what we were doing. But we emerged as a strong pair, and have been together for six years now.
The parallelism between us is relevant even in this photo: the way our braids are slightly uneven and messy, the way I clutch onto the reins and she bites the bit. It conveys our inexperience and natural nervousness. And yet, we're both looking forward, alert and ready for the challenges ahead, both in the classes following, and the years to come.
Just before this class started, we'd had a hiccup entering the ring. As I jogged her into the arena, to get in line for the halter class, Leia reminded me just how young she was by jumping to the side and squealing, leaving me in the dust as she let out a few exuberant bucks towards the middle of the ring. I was left unnerved, shaking, and embarrassed. I'd known she'd be fresh coming out of the stall after a night inside, but she had gone and proved me right and rubbed it in my face. I ran to get her and quickly found my place in line before the incident was brushed aside and the class began. After that, I was feeling quite doubtful and my confidence was shattered. She continued to test my patience throughout the remainder of the class and I struggled to make us look good. Apparently it worked, because we won the class, "Halter Class: Four Years and Under."
We continued to shine throughout the day in a few novice and green over fences divisions, a dressage hack class, and a pleasure division. While we had a few slip-ups, I was high point junior rider and she was reserve high point pony of the day.
I feel like this picture is a symbol of our start together. It shows how we were ready to face whatever lied ahead, and how we would prove ourselves to each other time and time again. Is is where our bond was made, where we began to really understand each other.
The few years following that day were similar; we'd generally perform well, with a few faults here and there. The year after, I took her out to another show series where we showed in Short Stirrup divisions and earned champion in the yearend awards, both in Equitation and Hunter. After that, I took her to big-name places such as Lexington Horse Center for the state championships in September, and Commonwealth Park, the infamous show grounds where Christopher Reeve became paralyzed, for their HITS series. We became unstoppable.
When She wasn't winning me ribbons, she was my companion and therapy. She got me through hard times when my parents split up, when I couldn't see my best friend anymore, when I moved away from my lifelong home. Even when she had off days, misbehaved, picked up bad habits, or made me want to rip my hair out from frustration, I'm glad she was there. She is the one thing I've ever been completely and wholly devoted to. She is what I've worked for, for the thirteen years I've rridden horses and is the result of all my hard work and training. She is my other half and my best friend.
Here's another picture from our first class together: