My first horse. He was a character. It is because of him, I think, that I became a fearless rider and got into training horses. He was an Arabian, and definitely knew more than I did when I started with him. He used that to his advantage, and didn't care to work any harder than he had to. And when I (or my trainer) told him he had to, well, watch out! My very first year of showing horses, in my western equitation class at the county fair, he let loose with a bucking spell that sent me flying. I tucked and rolled, hit the ground, popped to my feet, caught him, and was back in the saddle before the judge could really process what had just happened. Although I did not finish in the ribbons, I did complete the class.
This horse in this picture, an Arabian mare, technically belonged to my mother, not me. We bought her as a coming two year old, with the plans that she'd be my mother's horse and we would ride together, me on my horse and Mom on hers. I don't think my mother ever did get on this horse, she was a quick little mare that could leave you hanging in mid-air when she turned and you didn't! This one was the first horse I ever broke out from scratch. She taught me to always pay attention! When Mom sold her, after I got married, this mare ended up becoming a lesson horse at a stable I had worked at.
This was my main show horse during my horse showing career, which lasted until 1991 when I moved far, far away (500 miles!) with DH. This gelding is the half-brother to the mare in the previous picture, foaled the same year, only his mother was an Arabian/Quarter Horse cross instead of a full-blooded Arab. I started working with him when he was a 2 year old and purchased him when he was three. He was the second horse I ever broke out. We had quite a good show career together, until I sold him in early 1992.
Even though he changed hands a couple of times, I was able to keep tabs on him. He spent a handful of years on the Arab show circuit without me, and after surviving a bout of EPM which left him with a hitch in his get-along, he left the show circuit for a career as a horse in a therapeutic riding program for disabled people. In 2006 he came back into my life when I purchased him for my daughters to ride. Much older, he had greyed out like many Arab and Arab-crossed horses do. I refer to him in my blog as The Old Man, he is 29 years old now and pretty much retired.
The Old Man, spring 2013
Still loving work, just not as durable as he used to be.
For a brief time in high school I did gymkhana events, such as barrel racing, on the palomino in this picture. It was great fun, and I earned many points for my high school equestrian team with her. She was the "aunt" of The Old Man, being a half-sister of his mother. With her, I found a love for speed and tight turns.
From doing gymkhana on the high school equestrian team, I turned my interests to learning dressage. Three short years after the barrel racing picture was taken, I could be found riding a big Belgian/Quarter Horse cross at a dressage facility where I both worked and learned. This horse was the biggest I had ever ridden, and she was like a freight train. She could run away with me at the walk because she simply would plow right through my aids until I had learned enough to keep her from doing so. She was a huge change from all the Arabs I had ridden up until that point. They were easy to manhandle and make stop. Her, not so much. This mare, and the things I learned from her, were of great use when I bought my own dressage horse prospect many years (and three children) later.
The Pony, purchased for my children a week before DD2 was born. I had known him (and ridden him a few times) during my 4-H years, he had been owned by several different families in my 4-H club, changing owners as his outgrew him and younger children came along. We were his final family, he developed Cushings and I had him put down in 2004 when he was 32 years old.
The Mare. A warmblood, Holsteiner to be specific. I purchased her as a very green 12 year old (she hadn't been ridden since age 4, when she had been backed enough to go at a walk and trot). I have put in all her training since above the very basic of basics she got at age 4, and although we haven't shown (getting back into showing just didn't pan out for me what with family and time and finances and all), she and I work at roughly Second Level together. Although, now that she's 24 years old, she's semi-retired.
This is The Quarter Horse. The one I bought despite having been convinced, for decades, that I would never own a Quarter Horse because they just weren't challenging enough to ride. This one changed my mind. He has the best movement of any QH I've ever seen, he is a natural dressage horse. He has a very quick mind, too. So I bought him. He is the young whipper snapper who is coming behind The Mare, her replacement as she gets closer to being geriatric.
I know at the beginning of this post, I said a "few" pictures. Reading all this way, you're probably thinking "that's a lot of pictures!" It is just a handful of the horses I have known through the years. Most of the ones I have worked with, some just in-hand, some in the saddle, I do not have pictures of. But they all taught me something along the way.
I am thankful for my teachers, the horses.