My horse Bandit is the one ALLLLLLLLLL my best horse stories are about. He was spooky, kinda decrepit, beat to hell, and neglected. I was horse-obsessed, but I'd had the fortune to spend a couple of years at a barn with free rein to ride any of the horses (except the stallions) as long as I cleaned stall, hosed out the wolf and cougar pens, fed, watered...you get the idea. Far from discouraging me, I spent every day of every summer and every weekend from 7 am to 8 at night at that barn. I rode bareback, self taught, and fell a lot. When the barn was sold and the horses dispersed, I was despondent. I lost track of all of my favorites, save one--the Arab stallion Serasun, son of Serafix. Look him up. His lines are very old, and beginning to be lost, but he was a big deal. Anyway, I digress.
The barn closed, and I was horseless. I spent the following summer pining away at a rough pasture where the Cuban ropers kept their horses. My mother grew increasingly worried about my safety. I was 16 or so...in a field, where strange men came and went. At some point, I learned that there was a boarding barn nearby, and the board was only $25 a month! (18x10 paddock with shelter, made of plywood, self-care)
Well, I told my mom, and she insisted on taking me to look at it. I was reluctant, because I KNEW I wasn't getting a horse. No way. It wouldn't happen. Got there, saw an available stall (needed a lot of repair), and talked to the owner. Turned out, she had a niece or cousin that was selling a horse. Of course. My mom made arrangements to see the horse, which we were told was PERFECT for a first-time owner. Of course.
I was still reluctant, since no way was I getting a horse.
The next day, we went to the barn to see the horse. My heart sank a little. He was AQHA 15.2-ish, gray, depressed-looking, with an obvious old bowed tendon, horrific scarring on his heels, clear wire scars all around his legs and middle, three brands--cheek, shoulder, and rump--a permanent quarter crack in his hoof, huge scar on his shoulder (including staple scars where a vet put him back together), another scar and lump on his butt, and about seventy-five pounds underweight.
He was 11.
I got on and rode him bareback, and I could barely get him out of a walk. Finally managed to get a slow jog and an labored canter out of him, and said to my mom, "I love him! He rides just like Blue Chip!" (my favorite horse at the old barn, and btw, this horse was nothing like her)
My mom arranged for a vet check on my advice, and we went home. As expected, my brother nearly talked her out of the horse that evening, and I blew a gasket. Long story short, the horse passed the check, and he was mine. Bandit.
I didn't ride him for a few days, since I had no bridle, rake, bucket, food, brushes...anything. I borrowed stuff from good hearted coboarders for a week. When we went on our first ride, Bandit saw a leaf skitter across the road and dropped spraddle-legged into a full-blown spook, reared, spun, and bolted. I was bareback, and somehow stayed on, pulled him around, and made him face it. **** horse was a wreck. Spooky. Jumped lines on the pavement, jumped sideways from bushes and garbage cans. Wouldn't tie. NEVER. I tried all the tricks of the time. He would have preferred death to tieing. But he'd ground tie like a champ for up to twenty minutes before he got bored--unless I was working around him--and then he'd just stand. He wouldn't load in a trailer unless it was a stock trailer. And did I mention he was spooky?
So I worked with him. By the end of the second year, we had changed barns to a better facility, he had filled out, gained weight and muscle aplenty, and was a different horse. We ran barrels, and he loved it. We became the Jr. Barrel champions in our division in the third year, and one day his old owner came to visit. We were doing flying changes in the field--every other stride--an exercise I did to school for pole bending. I saw a stranger pull up, and went to investigate.
I learned a lot. He had been sold for being too spooky. They were afraid to run barrels on him. They had drugged him the day I test rode him in order to get him on a trailer. AND they had used a cattle prod to get him on the trailer. The fact that he was now running good times, loading on a trailer, and had become this beautiful athletic horse amazed her.
We conquered his demons. But we also conquered mine: I stuttered, was afraid to talk to people, had no friends, lacked self-esteem, was verbally and emotionally abused at home (my mom had a thyroid condition and a prescription that was badly dosed--so she had manic panic and depressive attacks and flew off the handle over small things), and I was socially inept. Through owning Bandit, I learned to speak clearly (who else would order feed, talk to blacksmiths, vets, and barn managers if not me?), made friends, and gained confidence. I will always remember being tortured at school for my stuttering and going home early, only to spend the day and late into the night at the barn, sitting in his stall, laying down with him, just being with him.
I sincerely believe he saved my life.
I gave Bandit to friends when he was almost 16. I told them I would never ask for him back, but if they couldn't keep him, to call me. I'd take him always. I wanted a younger horse for barrels, and Bandit's war wounds were beginning to take their toll. They kept him, and we kept in touch. I was the last person to ride him, when he was 25. He began having seizures a day or two later. Within the week, he'd been put to sleep. He had a brain tumor, it was discovered, and it was the most humane thing they could do. That last ride, I was offered a saddle, which I declined. I would never need a saddle for Bandit. We rode bareback, and he spooked at the garbage cans, jumped the yellow lines in the road, and dodged the palmetto bushes. Some things never changed. He was not the best horse for a beginner, but he was the best horse that I could have ever hope for, and the best horse I've ever ridden. I will always compare every horse to him. By the time my time with him was over, he would do ANYTHING I asked, no matter how scary. He'd put his head down, blow and snort, then tiptoe over, around, under, or past a dragon. He'd have run through fire if I asked.
In short, he was the most honest animal I've ever known, and he overcame a lot in his short life. And he rescued me most truly.
A horse saved my bacon once.
I lived in Toronto when I was in my 20's and had a horse boarded N E of there. I bought Ben Blue, a big steel grey part draft horse and he had some bad habits, ran away the first time I rode him out and would also when trotting down a trail suddenly leap in the air, 180 degree spin and warp speed for home. We got those little habits ironed out but he also was very afraid of water so I spend some time with him, starting with puddles and working up to crossing the river in a lovely valley not far from the stable. He got quite confident with the three river crossings in this valley.
Well one Sunday I went riding very early and decided to ride down to this valley, did the first two crossings and was trotting along about a 1/2 m to the last one, I saw a car there and wondered how they got a car down there but there must have been a road somewhere. There were 3 men in the car and when they saw me, they started to call to me to come over, they wanted to talk to me. I was suspicious and went to the third river crossing to put some distance between us, the river was about 25 f wide and a good sandy bottom and about 18" high. Well, they came over to the river edge still calling and saying that I couldn't get out that way and would have to come back. They were right. I rode up around the trail and when I came back they were still there at the edge of the river waiting for me. I stopped behind some bushes and tried to think what to do, as sooner or later they would realize they could cross the river themselves.
Finally I decided I would have to get across this river and make a run for it so I came out and toward them at a trot and I heard one guy say grab the horse so I gathered my reins up so they weren't hanging down, took two good handfuls of mane and just as we got near I put the boots to Ben. Now this horse had been fearful of water and I only ever walked him through it but now am asking for a full gallop through. I prayed he wouldn't stop dead at the edge and that good horse hit the water flat out, his big ears pinned flat on his head and those great big feet slapping the water and sending huge sprays ahead of us. I remember those three critters leaping for safety as we came flying through and headed down the pathway at a run. I said to Ben " if you feel like running away, this is a good time." I was afraid they might get the car and follow so didn't slow down til I looked over my shoulder and could see they weren't going to and then slowed to a good canter till we got to the next crossing.
Ben Blue was my hero that day.
My story isn't very dramatic but I do believe my mare saved me. I definitely shed a few tears remembering and writing this.
When I was six, after taking riding lessons for a year, my parents decided it would be time to get me my own horse. My mom had owned horses on and off since she was nineteen and wanted to find me an older horse who had a lot of miles on him for a reasonable price. She searched for quite a while until we found a black gelding where I took lessons. We were almost 100% sure we would buy him, but my mom had a feeling she should keep looking.
A month or two later, she found a AQHA mare who was used in the horse science program at Kirkwood College in Iowa, which was several hours from where we lived. My mom couldn't stop thinking about the horse and decided we should go look at her. The mare's name was Willow, and she apparently was a great jumper for a 14hh pony and did well in dressage. Anyway, we met her and I took a test ride but I knew right away that she was my horse. My mother paid $3,000 for that horse, and I asked her the other day what compelled her to do that. She said that I obviously loved Willow from day one.
I was so stoked to finally have my own horse. We had several ups and downs until I was about 13. I fell into depression, which is pretty common in the family, so it's no wonder I ended up with it at such a young age despite my decent middle class life. I stopped riding for almost two years and my beloved Willow was put into pasture and being ridden by the neighbor girls. It broke my heart to know that anyone else was riding her because I knew no one could ride her like I could. Those two years were spent in a struggle. I was suicidal, though I wouldn't admit that to anyone at the time.
About a year ago I started riding and working with horses again. I hit rock bottom and my mom dragged me to the barn one day. She got me brushing Willow while she brushed her horse in the other stall. I was talking to my mom about everything that was happening and I ended up sobbing in my horse's mane. She curled her head around me and I felt like I was safe. I missed her so much and it felt like she forgave me for being gone for so long. It made me realize that I couldn't keep living the way that I was. I was failing in school, I refused to make or keep friends, and I wouldn't even go outside to see my horse.
She's the reason I wake up every morning. And it's still a work in progress, but I'm trying to overcome the way that I feel, and I've come a long way. But there's no way it would have happened without my Willow. I am now in the process of working with a local breeder's horses and have been working on dressage and soon I'd like to start hunter jumper.
Ohhhh boy is this true.
I started riding at a Morgan show barn, where I fell in love with an older gelding. Leased him for about two years, and he was my everything. My home life was a bit dysfunctional. My dad has borderline personality disorder, and either narcissistic personality disorder or sociopathic disorder. We don't know for sure because he refused to admit there was a problem, but the doctors I worked with came up with that unofficial diagnosis. I started getting suicidal thoughts as early as age 7. We begged my mom to get a divorce when I was in 3rd grade, and she did. Then it became Candyland at my dad's house, to try to "win me back" (but not my older brothers). Let me do whatever I wanted, even gave me alcohol to "loosen my tongue" so I would talk about home. Finally realized what was happening, pushed him away. I started doing drugs in 6th grade (gross, right??). All this time I was with that gelding, who I adored. I knew I would outgrow him (he was 14.2 hands, and I was just getting taller!), and he was old. One day I was looking at horse ads, and saw him for sale. He was quickly sold out from under me. I was absolutely devastated.
For that reason, in addition to several other problems, I moved to a barn where one of my friends boarded at. There were two horses for sale there: one was a 15.1 paint gelding named Chance, the other a 16.1 quarter horse gelding named Comet. I was mainly looking at Chance, since Comet had a lameness issue. But one day, I decided to try out Comet. My goal was to jump, and he definitely seemed like a stronger candidate for that than Chance. Meanwhile, I looked at other ads online because I wasn't totally convinced. Still missed the other horse terribly. One day, while driving home from the barn, my mom said, "If you want a horse today, I'll buy you Comet. If you want to wait a while, not knowing what will happen, we can wait." Being an impatient 12 year old, I settled on Comet. I wasn't too keen on him. He was rude, not very trained (although he was 8 at the time), and built like a tank. He'd follow me in the pasture, but was more like a bull-dozer compared to the Morgans I was used to. A few days later, we found that his lameness issue was due to an abscess in his left hind heel. Fixed him up, and he was good as new. Except, you know, not really. I took a few lessons from a traveling dressage trainer. His canter was unrideable. I don't know what exactly was wrong, but you could not do it. The trainer told me to back out of the sale.
I stopped getting lessons from her...didn't really cotton to her attitude. I continued to work with Comet, but still had severe problems. In the summer between 8th grade and freshman year, I was assaulted by a boy in my class. In the worst way a female can be. I didn't tell anyone, but was destroyed. It mostly happened because I was under the influence. I stopped drugs cold turkey. I ended up being hospitalized in a psychiatric ward downstate, for a few weeks. Comet started getting better that year, and we ended up showing and doing pretty darn well! Freshman year, life got dark again. Still had very poor self esteem, was haunted by what happened in the summer (still, nobody knew!) and ended up being hospitalized again. While I was there, I told my case worker everything. Stayed a bit longer, but was getting better slowly but surely. However, apparently my issues were still there, because I got into a relationship with a senior who everyone warned me about. Didn't believe them, thought I could help him. Turned into a three month relationship where he was emotionally, physically, and eventually assaulted me like the other guy. This time much worse. I was on the brink of suicide, but I kept thinking, "Comet is going to keep waiting for me to come back to him." Comet was the only being I could trust, and was the only one I told. I found a way out of the relationship, and stayed true to Comet.
Eventually I got in a relationship with a guy the same age as the last, but this one was different. He was kind, sweet, and gentle. Above all, he understood that Comet was there first. He was the only boyfriend I let come see Comet. They got along great.
We're still together, going on 3 years. I'm going to college 12 hours away to a university with a huge horse program, and Comet is staying home to save another girl who's a sophomore. My boyfriend is actually going to be working in an internship an hour away from me.
I think what kept me going through everything is that, while horses have an incredible way of understanding people, Comet still didn't quite understand the intensity of what was happening to me. He only knew that his girl was shutting down, but he needed her to keep coming back for him. That alone kept me going. He's definitely my heart horse, and I'll never sell him. I owe it to him to let him live out his life with me. He never gave up on me, so I can't ever give up on him.
Wow guys these stories are deep. I am so glade that we all found a new path. Personally when I see someone having a difficult time in life I try to share and give them a chance with horses. I know others use sports or arts but with horses they are 100 percent depended on us and we need to change our loves to meet their needs. Posted via Mobile Device
I wish I could do something to help my little half brother :( he loves horses and wants to ride, but my dad won't let him take lessons. He's also considered the 'bad child' of the two that my dad had with his g/f, but I think he's just acting out because they pay more attention to the youngest who's the 'good child'. I think horseback riding lessons would really help give him something to do productively. I've been trying for a long time to get my dad to bring him down so I can let him ride Rosie (who's a saint with kids) but he won't bring him down to the barn...
Its amazing how healing animals are. For me its both my dogs and my horses. I wont go into detail, but I had a less than ideal childhood, and come from a family with a lot of depression, alchoholism and workaholics. I was miserable as a teen and felt that I never fit in. I was badly dyslexic, which was never diagnosed, so all the students and the teacher in elementary school made fun of me, for something I couldn't change. Then I was bullied for being "too smart" by the cool girls. I never wanted to dress or act like them, so I did the opposite, which made me stand out even more.
By the time I was a teen I felt that I was so different I would never fit in, and in a way, I didn't want to. I felt isolated from my family, confused and miserable. At the time I had neither dogs nor horses. My parents couldn't afford lessons never mind a horse, so I rode whenever I could get someone to let me, usually on my cousins 17hh, half broke, proud cut draft cross in the summers. I still don't know how I lived through those full speed, stirrupless rides through thick brush. I saved every penny and held on to the goal that I would one day own my own horse, so when I was 15 I found one I wanted, convinced my very non horsey parents to let me buy it, and paid for her, a halter, long piece of rope, shipping to get her for me and a bag of grain with the contents of my bank account. I worked evenings and weekends cleaning office buildings to afford her. For the first two weeks I kept her tethered to a tree in my land ladies back field until the barn I wanted to keep her at had a spot available. She was a half starved yearling covered in wire scars, that had been treated roughly in the past. I felt like she was a little bit broken, and so was I. She needed me. For the first time in several years I felt like something understood me, and I had a real reason to get up in the morning. I devoted myself to being the best horse person I could be, for her. I read voraciously, watched dvd's, listened to anyone that would talk to me and spent every possible moment at the barn. Montana, the beat up filly, got me through the roughest years, and then went on to a jumping barn, to help other kids to ride.
Every horse I've worked with has taught me many lessons. They helped me through a tough time in my life and helped me learn lessons about self worth, communication, patience, understanding. I learned that kindness and love goes a long way to healing something broken, but that love doesn't just mean affection, it always means fair rules that never change.
Willow helped me pick up the broken pieces of my shattered confidence. Sparky helped me learn that sometimes, letting something you love go is the kindest thing. He taught me about life, and most importantly about death. Romeo taught me to ignore stereotypes, the outside often doesn't match the inside.
So yes, I can say I've been "saved" by my horses. Not just one, but all of them. I don't know where I would be without them.