It was June 22, 2008. I was 11 years old, and I ran into the barn office to get my horse assignment for the day. I was told I was riding one of the new horses, Jerry. I walked down the barn, peering into all the stalls and checking the nameplate to see which one was Jerry. I finally made it to the stall, and after putting all my things on the floor, I looked in to see what the horse looked like. He was skinny. He had scars all over him. His hipbones stuck out beyond imagination. He had burrs and mats all through his mane and tail. He was dirty and covered in skin fungus. He was beautiful.
Riding him that day, I felt free. It was something that I hadn't felt in a long time. I hadn't been doing well in school, and I had been getting into trouble at home. But cantering around the arena that day, it seemed to awaken a part of my soul that I had never even known existed. The world suddenly seemed to make sense. And then I had to get off and put him back so that another little girl could ride him later that day.
When I went home, all I thought about was this horse who had suddenly come into my life. Next week, we would be jumping, and I knew my instructor would put me on him. She said that he trusted me, and she thought we made a good pair.
Next week finally came, and as soon as we started jumping, I knew he was the perfect horse for me. He hated every second of jumping. Even if it was an 18" fence, he did everything in his power to refuse it. His refusal to jump gave me something to strive for, something I had never felt on those push button ponies. Every little achievement was to be celebrated. Even trotting poles. If he went over a pole lying on the ground he got tons of pats and treats.
After a year, I had him jumping up to 2'. But I still wasn't happy. He still wasn't mine. So, that was the year that I decided to do everything in my power to make him all mine. And that is what I did.
I got my grades up. I cleaned my room. I did the dishes. I fed the cats. I cleaned the hamster cages. I got a job pet sitting for our neighbors. I even made breakfast a few times. Anyways, after a year of chores, I finally got my dream. Jerry was mine.
Now, two and a half months into our ownership, I am a better person. I do as I'm told (with limited sarcasm), and I keep up with my schoolwork. I have gotten Jerry to listen to me, and we are now jumping 2'3 with some discrepancies.
In the time I have know Jerry, I went from a shy, lazy, and careless child into a outgoing, hardworking, and reliable teenager. Hopefully, Jerry will keep me on the right track throughout my teenage years, and hopefully I'll keep him on the right track.
To Jerry: I love you. Thank you so much for everything.