This is going to have to be a series of posts because after all the years I have had with horses, it would really be impossible to pinpoint my best day ever. My horsemanship journey has been filled with good days and bad days and lots of in-between days!
The Hunt for the Perfect Horse
Today, the best day that I want to tell you about is when I met my horse Zelda for the first time. We had looked for horses for almost a year at that point. My trainer (8 months pregnant at the time) and my parents quickly were quickly growing tired of carting me around to all these different farms looking at horses.
See, I developed my sixth sense for horses at a young age. I got gut feelings about horses despite being only 15 and not having a lot of experience. I trust my gut feelings, I always have.
My gut feelings had caused us to pass on many horses that were perfectly acceptable, unfortunately for my trainer and parents. Horses that were just okay, I just saw them and I wasn’t feeling it! So we would leave and move on to the next one. As I said, my parents and trainer were to the point of wondering if I really wanted a horse. Why was I being so picky? I guess a 15-year-old having such high standards is a rare and unexpected thing.
Red Mare for Sale
My dad found the ad for a mare on some horse for sale website. I can’t remember which one offhand. The ad was pretty simple, something along the lines of “coming 3 years old, chestnut Oldenburg mare. Nice sports horse prospect”. That was about it. There were some pictures of her as a foal with her mom, performing in her foal inspection.
I don’t remember that I was overly excited when I saw the ad. I was also disappointed to find out that my trainer was not able to come along this time. She was about to have the baby any day now.
My mom and I drove over the bay bridge to Oxford Maryland, to Cool Na Grena Sporthorses. It was a beautiful place. The barn was gorgeous and so was the surrounding property. I don’t remember much about any of the other horses there, I did not pay any attention to them.
It was love at first sight when I saw Zelda. I can’t tell you exactly what drew me to her. She was young and babyish looking, probably only like 14.3 hands at the time, maybe 15. Her markings were not flashy. She was all red aside from a star on her forehead and one real short sock on her right hind fetlock.
Zelda had a beautiful head with a gorgeous expression on her girly face. She had a kind expression in her eye. I distinctly remember walking up to her and putting my hand out to her muzzle for her to smell and her long baby whiskers tickling my hand.
I just groomed her and led her around since she was not broke to ride yet. We watched her trot around in the paddock near the fenceline next to her mother and current foal. She moved beautifully. Her registered name was “Detente” which is very ironic if you know all I went through with her over the years. For those who don’t know, a “detente” is a moment of peace during wartime or conflict. Zelda was a lot of things, but peaceful is not one of the words I would use to describe her.
From day one, she was always full of herself, she knew she was beautiful and that her movement was extravagant. As an older horse this became an attitude that was an issue to deal with, but as a baby, it just came off as her enjoying to show off! She knew she was something special and I did too.
I had basically decided on first sight that she was the horse for me, I was in love. I immediately told my mom, “that’s the horse for me, I want her” when we got in the car. She probably could already tell by how smitten I was acting and was a little flabbergasted that I had finally made a decision! I’m sure she was beginning to think we were on the never-ending horse search.
She still needed a pre-purchase exam, of course, which she passed with flying colors since she was so young. Not to mention that her owner was a veterinarian.
I can still remember the day she walked off the trailer in my driveway, she was such a baby. She strutted off the trailer with that same look in her eye that had drawn me to her when I saw her the first time. She was meant to be my horse.
Life with Zelda
That was in the spring of 2001. My journey with Zelda was a long one, with my highest highs and lowest lows. I will never love another horse as much as I loved her. She was my very first heart horse. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her or look at a picture of her.
Over the years we had a love-hate relationship. I can honestly say she taught me more about not just horses and riding, but more about myself than any other horse I have interacted with.
I feel lucky to have had her as my heart horse. Some people never find their heart horse. I feel particularly blessed that over the years I have been on this journey, I have had more than one.
Zelda, though, she was the horse that made me. Every horse I ever sat on taught me something, I owe them all. Zelda made me the horsewoman that I’m today.
My first “best day with horses” post is dedicated to Zelda. I’m sure that as you get to know me and my blog, you will learn to know Zelda well also. I plan on telling you lots of stories about her, so you can learn from my experiences, both good ones and bad ones.