My life changing horse moment was actually a horse. I will give you some background. I grew up riding, in that aspect I was very blessed. I loved horses and naturally I loved being around them. I lived in the city my aunt and uncle lived in the country. I lived with them every weekend, school holidays and summer. They were childless so my brother and I were pretty much their adopted ones. My aunt was an excellent trainer and very good rider. She had some of the most beautiful horses in my state, she was also reclusive. I was never involved in a horse community as a result. She trained me to show in case she ever bred for more than just her own horses, she wanted to be able to up their worth by putting some ribbons behind them. So I spent most of my time in an arena concentrating on my seat on my ques, collecting the horse, perfecting everything, which of course it never was, there was always something more to learn something more to improve on. It was work plain and simple. I never went galloping across a meadow bareback with or without my friends, we didn’t do overnight camping, the only time we went trail riding is when we were desensitizing the horses. I was a perfectionist and I had to concentrate on making that horse dance a perfect dance. I don’t want to anyone to feel like I am complaining hey the horses I rode would make most people pea green with envy, I still miss some of them very much.
When I was 19 I took a summer job as a trail guide. I was excited about being able to work and make money with horses. They basically told me that even if I brought my dressage saddle out I would not be welcome to use it except on my off time which there wasn’t much of. I had never studied western riding, I think if I take a wild guess I was in a western saddle 7 times prior to this all involving a horrible camp experience, and me being very very uncomfortable all ‘enclosed ‘ on a horse. So to say I was bit unnerved about the riding aspect of it would be a slight understatement. I remember my Aunt telling me on the day I was leaving, ‘If you come back with bad habits don’t think I won’t get after you.’
So I arrive 27 horses 3 trail guides and a boss. First thing boss does throws me on the 2nd worst behaving horse they have to see what I can do. Here’s me, knees to my chin (which was my nickname after that ride I think I would I still respond to ‘Hey knees to your chin’) desperately trying to collect this horse, Trail Boss laughing so hard he nearly fell off his horse, at my attempts to ride the thing. Well under the guidance of one of the other guides I got it all settled out shortly, I was horribly uncomfortable but it wasn’t like I was going to come off. Boss says I’ll do. I am beaming just a little on the inside when they introduce me to my horse. Of course he would be the worse horse in the barn!
He’s is currently lame should be fine in 2 weeks, is what they tell me. Next thing I find out is he’s thrown everyone there on multiple occasions including trail boss and nobody wants to deal with him. His name is Tracker he is all of 5 years old snorting and kicking at his stall during this intro. My only thought was ‘oh good God what am I going to do now.’ So every day for two weeks after I finished my chores and rides I would take out Tracker, I do round pen lessons with him and just start treating him like he’s a colt at my aunts farm that is being broke. From the round pens we start going for our daily walks and he spooked at everything I learned rather fast to take a long lead and let out line vs trying to dangle off the end like his personal puppet. By the end of week one suddenly the world wasn’t so scary. By the end of week two we were so bonded together that if I left on rides with other horses he wouldn’t stop screaming for me until I got back. When I mucked out the stalls every morning and every night I would have him loose in the barn isle following me from stall to stall. He never cared if he hung out with the other horses or not he only wanted to hang out with me.
When I started riding him it was like this connection I had never had before with a horse, I would start to think I want to do this and he would already be doing it. It was amazing, things I worked so hard to accomplish on other horses came as natural as breathing on this horse. He was a one man horse and would bare with another rider on a ride if I was there but would not tolerate any other person to ride him if I didn’t come along. I never needed a halter and lead rope to have him out and about with me he would follow me regardless of whether he was ‘caught’ or not. He changed my entire view of horses it was no longer a job that although I enjoyed I still had to get done. It became a burning passion inside me, not everything needed to be so strict and ridged there was a whole different kind of dance to a horse other then perfecting a pirouette.
When I left at the end of summer my first order of business was to try and purchase Tracker, the owner said that would be fine but then at the last minute refused to sell him to me, neither me nor my trail boss could figure out why this was, I was to say the least heartbroken. Trail boss called me a month after I left and asked if I could come out, Tracker apparently had stopped eating and wouldn’t let anyone near him, I once again tried to purchase him and once again was given a cool refusal by the boss. I went out and feed him took him for a little ride then handed him over to the trail boss. The boss kept in contact with me for a while. Tracker was not ride able for 3 months after I left, trail boss finally had enough and started taking him out himself and forcing him to work, Tracker eventually got over me I however still haven’t got over him. Not having him with me is still a loss in my heart that makes me want to cry. Every time I pass a trail outfit I get out and start looking for him. I would pay whatever exorbitant price tag someone laid on him just to get him back. He taught me to love riding and relit a passion about it I hadn’t had since I was a 6 year old walking out to meet my first pony. There is still something to this day about an unexplored trail that makes my heart beat a little faster in anticipation of the unknown lying ahead.