I’m One Of The Lucky Ones!
I have been around horses my whole life. As long as I can remember I have been obsessed with horses. I was lucky enough to be born into a farming family. My mom loved horses her whole life so my horsemanship journey began at a very young age.
I Want You To Meet The Horses Who Made Me!
I have a photographic memory for horses. Even after my accident, I can see every horse I have ever ridden or been around in my mind’s eye. Plain as day! I can remember little things about their personalities, the things I learned from them…Things to do and not to do. Any good horse person will tell you it is the horses that are the best teachers. So to know me and how I have come to living the horsey life I’m lucky enough to live, you have to know the horses.
There Are Lots Of Them, I Mean Tons!
I have encountered a lot of horses in my life. Today for some reason a particular one came to mind. I don’t plan on sharing each horse in any sort of chronological order. I’m just going to tell you about them as they cross my mind. Unfortunately, many of these horses. Especially from when I was a child. I do not have photos of. I’m going to try and paint a picture for you though.
Chantilly was an old lady when I met her. At the time, I thought she was really big. I know now that was just because I was really small! If I had to guess Chantilly was probably only 15.1, 15.2 at most.
She was a chestnut mare. Not of fiery red color, just a deep reddish brown. Her mane and tail were thick. It was obvious they used to be a beautiful flaxen color. By the time I met her though, her mane and tail were less gold and brown and a lot grayer.
I’m sure she did shed out in the summertime. For some reason though, I can’t picture her without a thick winter coat. Even though she wasn’t a heavily built horse at all, she always had a little red feathering hanging off her fetlocks. Nobody ever bothered to trim them off.
Chantilly had the biggest, kindest brown eyes. The area above her eyes was sort of sunken in. I know now that was a sign of her age. At the time I just thought that was what horses faces looked like!
Her face was graying all over. If my memory serves me right she had a star on her forehead. It looked like it was graying from the middle of that star and spreading over her face.
She Was Exactly As She Seemed
To look at Chantilly you would almost feel bad for her. Not because she wasn’t taken care of. She most certainly was well cared for! To see her standing tied to the fence with a saddle on waiting for her next lesson rider, she always looked content. She never seemed irritated about the other horses coming and going. Chantilly would stand like a rock while I fumbled around with the tack trying to get it on her.
I know a lot of lesson horses get quite sour after a while. They get girthy and learn all kinds of dirty tricks under saddle. You could just look at Chantilly’s face, right into her eyes and tell she knew what her job was.
Not to be flashy or fast, but to be gentle and mild-mannered. To be the horse that a timid beginner( like myself at that time) could get on her scared to death for a lesson. By the time you got off of her though, I felt great. I thought it was the greatest thing how she listened to me. She was slow and steady. Being a chicken s%$t kid rider, I was lucky to get to ride a horse like Chantilly.
My First Trotting And Posting
I did my very first trotting and learned to post on Chantilly. My friend and I were so terrified about learning to trot that we literally hid in my closet, we didn’t want to go to the lesson!
Somehow my mom got us out of the closet, and we went to the lesson. I learned to trot on Chantilly. If you even want to call it a trot. Looking back on it she was so slow, her trot was more like a shuffle. Let me tell you though when I got off of her after those lessons I was proud that I had been brave enough to trot her. In my mind it took bravery!
Chantilly Knew Her Purpose
After learning to trot and post on Chantilly, I moved on to some of the more “difficult” lesson horses. I use the word “difficult” loosely because at the time I had no idea how bad a horse could really behave!
I can remember getting on other lesson horses that I hadn’t yet grown to be fond of and seeing Chantilly tied in her spot by the fence. Quiet as a church mouse she would stand and wait for whoever her next rider would be.
She had a self-confident way about her for an old lady. Not pushy or grumpy. She had a demeanor of calmness and sense of purpose. She quietly went through life as a lesson horse. Teaching kid after kid that horses aren’t so scary after all. She wasn’t fast or fancy. Honestly, her personality wasn’t that bold. I don’t remember her as bold or curious. I wouldn’t say that she was full of personality by any means.
Looking In A Horses Eyes
I now look at a horse in the eye and I can tell a lot about the horse and its personality. It’s not something that I can tell you how to do. It is like a sixth sense that I have developed over the years.
Back during my time with Chantilly, I had not even come close to developing this ability. I do know for a fact though, I can remember her eyes like I just saw them yesterday. She had a kind eye, she was a wise old soul.
As a little kid to me, she was just sweet and “beautiful”. I didn’t know enough to realize how special and rare that look Chantilly had in her eyes was. It was kind, gentle and you could tell, ready to be forgiving of beginners mistakes. She just gave off calm energy…which was a big deal when you are a scared little beginner.
I Was Lucky To Know Her!
I was lucky to get to know Chantilly. She was gentle and calm with me. I gained confidence with her because I knew she would do what I asked of her. Even if I was scared to death! Chantilly never let my nervous energy or tense muscles effect her in the least. She knew her job was to take me around that ring. Slow and steady she was!
Now, I look back at Chantilly and I can see those quiet, calm eyes. When I look for lesson horses or pony ride ponies, those are the kind of eyes I look for.
Chantilly helped me gain confidence. She taught me to appreciate how special a horse like her is. There are a lot of lesson horses in the world. I have a whole barn full of them myself.
All Lesson Horses Have A Part To Play!
All lesson horses have their places in whatever lesson program they are in. They all are different and teach their riders different skills. They are all worth their weight in gold to be safe with beginner riders. A horse can be safe though and not have that quiet, confident energy that Chantilly had. Not all lesson horses have that look that Chantilly had in her eyes. That look and her demeanor made her extra special.
What Happened To Chantilly?
Chantilly was the most beginner of the beginner lesson horses at the lesson barn where I rode. I’m not sure exactly how long I rode her for. All I know is that at the time it felt like it was not nearly long enough.
I was on to more challenging horses and looking longingly at Chantilly waiting by the fence. She wasn’t fast, she wasn’t fancy. Chantilly was special though and I will never forget her!
Chantilly was one of many great lesson horses I had the privilege of getting to learn on. I heard through our old farrier when Chantilly passed away. It brought back lots of memories! I know for a fact that Chantilly earned her place in horsey heaven!