Great thread and stories! I've got a couple once in a lifetime horses, one in heaven and one still here with me.
My first love was Bunny, an older mare that came from the King Ranch. She was the ultimate babysitter and packed me and my sister around for many, many years. I showed her from age 5 until her arthritis got too bad when I was 11. She was the horse I had my most embarassing/memorable fall on. She taught me infinite patience, she'd been trained to do anything and would, if you asked her properly. She didn't get bothered by my frustrations, just patiently refused until I got it right. She was pts the day after my 15th birthday. I loved that mare, still do and still cry when I ride past her grave marker in my woods.
Here we are, me in my fabulous 80's show clothes. 027.jpg 025.jpg
My other once in a lifetime horse, is my old man, Hondo. We grew up together, though I'm a few years his senior. He was born early in a snow storm at the back part of the farm, I can still see it clear as day, my dad carrying this lanky bay colt on his shoulders to the barn. He taught me so much, especially about handling stallions. He was the first horse I won an AQHA All-Around with, and won 4 more with him in our years together. I had a lot of firsts with Hondo, learned to ride english & jump with him, worked my first cow on him after practicing with goats, bred my first mare with him and that foal bought my first car at 16, and now he is the first that I've personally owned that has hit 30 years old. He's still going strong, 100% sound and between myself and students gets rode 4 days a week. He's my therapist when I'm having a bad day, I can't even begin to count the times I've cried on his shoulder, he was my saving grace through my teenage angst years. I love my old man! 064.jpg