Last September, my girlfriend Kaitie expressed an interest in picking up riding again. She had taken riding lessons for something like 10 years when she was younger, but eventually had to give up taking them after her instructor moved too far away. I was excited to see her ride, but I don't think she really understood just how terrified I was of horses. After several months of watching lessons and occasionally patting a horse on face, I finally got up the nerve myself to start taking lessons in early winter. While I found riding to be an interesting challenge, I didn't really understand the full appeal at the time. I continued taking lessons and building my skillset over the winter, but I often felt like I was going riding more for Kaitie than I was for myself (Though in hindsight, I'm very glad I did continue taking lessons!)
Late Winder / Early Spring
In late winter/early spring the lesson horse I had been riding (the only horse I had ever ridden) was sold. I felt like I was starting all over again and was completely frustrated to the point of not wanting to ride anymore. Around that same time, a new horse arrived on the farm. He was originally an Amish plow horse who had likely been starved for some time before being sent to auction. He was in the 'meat pen' at the auction and my instructor ended up paying somewhere around $50 for him. At the time we thought he was around 20 years old and he was given the name 'Captain Morgan'. Despite his skin and bones appearance (he weighed only 1400lb!), Captain caught my eye almost immediately. Captain had a proud and very alert nature which I hadn't seen in any of the other horses I had interacted with.
I was given the opportunity to begin working with captain almost immediately. I jumped at the opportunity and quickly found that Captain really was a bit of a handful. I spent the first week simply working on ground manners and grooming. A few other more experienced riders at the barn began riding Captain, and after just a few weeks later I was able to start riding Captain in lessons. The first few times I rode captain, he was nearly incapable of trotting circles. We took things slowly and Captain proved himself to be a fast learner. He was trained to be a trail riding horse and this proved to be a great way for Captain to gently build back up his strength.
In March, I found out that someone had expressed interest in purchasing Captain. I was upset, but I also was happy that Captain would be going to a loving home where he could have plenty of extra attention. Most of the following photos were taken shortly before I expected Captain to be leaving. We also found out that Captain was only 13 years old!
At this point the person who was supposed to be purchasing Captain seemed to be dragging their feet despite the fact they had already sent payment. By the end of April, my instructor had decided to call off the sale of Captain. I decided that I could not let this opportunity pass and began the process of adopting Captain!
In May, Captain and I competed in our first gaming 'show'. We even got a few ribbons. It really was a blast, and Captain loved all the extra attention!
On June 20th, I officially adopted Captain!
You may have noticed in previous photos that Captains hooves were in terrible shape. In early July I was able to have the farrier visit Captain. This was actually something that was a month or two in the making since Captain originally refused to allow anyone to even pick his hooves. After much straining on my part in combination with the ocasional bribe when he was being good, Captain was pretty much ready. It took the farrier and his assistant over two hours to get his hooves cleaned up and fitted with 4 shoes. The shoes have have made both him and myself very happy.
Captain received his very first proper bathing the other day. Here he is out in the pasture eating some dinner while he dries off.
Captain really is the best horse I could have asked for. He finds fun in almost everything and will do his best to do anything you ask him to do. He also has a unique ability to win over even the most nervous first time riders. We have learned so much from each other over the past 6 months, and more importantly I finally understand what riding is really about!