Blake will always remain my one in a million - he is however still alive and still competing. I had him as a 3 year old, boy oh boy did I spend more time on the floor crying than in the saddle with a grin on my face! I don't know how he never killed me, but the more time that passed the more he blossomed into my best friend. I spent hours with him. Leaving him when we went home killed me. We lived along the coast andonly saw him once a month.
I was forced to find a new home for him when he was isolated on our farm that is 300km away from where we live and there was no one to look after him on a daily basis. Legally he is sill mine but I had to cut myself off emotionally from him because the people where he is living pay for his upkeep and their daughter uses him to compete. Even visiting him is hard for me, I end up in tears every time. Sometimes they are tears of pride and other times they are tears because I miss him so much. I gave up riding completely after that because in my heart I could never replace him and I felt like I would never have the same bond with another horse. Part of it was a silly feeling of betrayal and guilt if I did. Like he would know I was being disloyal!
This is Blake, taken shortly after he moved
And this is him more recently
I spent a few years riding other horses, not ever having the right feeling for them. They were just something that occupied me in my spare time. I never had the dedication to pay to ride someone else's animal, deep down it was a bit of jealousy so I started to search for my own horse. I looked at a few horses, none of them screamed anything at me. They were like a blank canvas looking back at me. Until I met Cumani. I hadnt even met him, just seen a really badly taken photo where he looked like a bag of bones in someone's racing yard but there was something that drove me to him. Once I met him I had no doubts. His eyes spoke to me, there was a character in them. I have not had such love for a horse in many many many years
So your question is valid for me...can you have more than one once in a lifetime horse? I found my perfect match...twice. Will Cumani ever replace Blake? Probably not, but he is his own type of special.
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.
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!
I definitely think horses touch our lives in special ways if we let them, even if they are in our lives for a short time. Each horse I have owned has been special in his or her own right, but there's just certain ones that just take a certain place that you know can never be taken.
My current mare, Flicka, has wormed her way into one of those spots over the last year, especially the last 6 mos while I've been dealing with alot of illness. She's been a rock during this time, being exactly what I need on certain days; giving me energy when I need it, or just being a shoulder to lean on...quite literally. When I've ridden, she's read me perfectly, as well, being as calm and steady as I needed, or again, bringing energy and renewed strength and some fun to the table.