Today Is April 16…
It is my sister-in-law’s birthday as well as the birthday of my very first heart horse “Detente”. It was ironic since the meaning of the word “Detente” is “a peace treaty during a time of war”. There was nothing peaceful at all about my mare. She came with the barn name, Zelda. which fits her much better since it sounds like a witch name.
What Is A Heart Horse?
I’m sure that I have talked about heart horses before. In case you don’t know I will tell you my definition of a heart horse. When I think about it, each horse person may have their own definition of what a heart horse is.
Before I continue, I will say that I believe that it is possible to have more than one heart horse in a lifetime. I know that I definitely have been lucky enough to have more than one.
Love At First Sight
I have talked about my sixth horse sense. The one that comes to me when I see a certain horse that just tells me that is the horse for me. It probably sounds weird, but when I see a horse that is supposed to be mine, I just know.
It’s not just about the look of the horse. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely like a certain body type and breeds. The sixth sense is just a feeling, a look in their eye. Their energy. I will just get a feeling that I trust in and I just know. It has never failed me. I honestly don’t know why I have it. If I had to guess I would say it is probably because I have been obsessed with horses for my whole life. Obsessed on a whole new level and not a bit of it ever wore off. After seeing so many different horses, I look at every horse I meet closely and try and get a feel for what it’s energy and personality is like. I also judge the physical look of the horse. Despite all of this, sometimes you just know!
The Horse You Never Forget A Thing About
I got my Zelda when she was 2 years old. She was a warmblood and we were not going to break her until late into her three-year-old year. What do you do for all that time?
You groom the horse, lead the horse, bathe it, brush its mane and tail. I spent so much time with her when she was a little baby swinging a saddle pad up on her back and jingling the girth that by the time she was ready to get broke, I trusted her. She trusted me and I just put my leg over one day and that was that.
Zelda was a hard mare to forget anyway, she had too much personality to be forgotten. I remember every injury she ever had. Every hoof abscess, splints.. all that health stuff. I could tell you every vet and farrier that ever touched her and how she responded to them. The things that she would spook at and the trick of how to bridle her and get her on a trailer. I remember watching her with the two beautiful fillies she had when we retired her from riding.
That mare is so engrained in my heart that I remember the first time she arrived at my barn the day we got her. When she moved to a new farm with me when I went on my working student adventure. The first time she cantered on the correct lead. When she finally learned how to pick up the correct leads. Zelda helped me to get my best dressage scores ever, and she was the first horse I jumped a four-foot fence on. There were times when I felt that we were invincible.
The problem with having your heart and soul invested in something like a relationship with a horse is that things can go wrong just as easily as with any other horse.
Since I had Zelda for so long, she knew how to push my buttons and I could (and did) push hers. When you work with and ride the same horse so long, it feels like being stabbed in the heart when you have a setback. Like when she dumped me in water jumps on cross country (more than once) for example. Then there was the time she got all 9’s on her dressage test and halfway through decided to rear, eliminating us. I still have no clue to this day why the hell she did that. I have to admit I got over it quickly when I saw that even though my dressage test had a big red x over it for eliminated, underneath it had at least 5 or 6 9’s on it!!!
A Heart Horse Will Teach You More Than Any Other Will
When you have that strong of a connection with a horse you will learn more from it than any other horse. Zelda and I could read each other. She taught me lots of specific things about riding, too much to even list in this post. She also taught me another important lesson: when to keep fighting to fix things and when to realize it’s time to give up.
Zelda and I had a complicated relationship, to say the least. I’m not even going to get into the details of how complicated! There were plenty of bad times with the good, looking back though, I learned so much from them. The fact that it was with the horse that I was so bonded with makes the lesson even more valuable.
The lessons go so much deeper when you learn them on a horse that you know through and through and have a close connection with.
Hard Decisions and a Heart Horse
Hard decisions are even harder when they are dealing with a horse that you have given your heart and soul to for such a long time. You will think that nobody can possibly understand the situation the way you do.
There were a few times that I had to make some hard decisions about Zelda. Luckily for me, I was surrounded by people who were looking out for me and my mare’s best interest. I hope that if you have a heart horse now or when you find yours, that someone will be there to help you through the times when you have to make those tough decisions.
Some People Just Don’t Understand
People that have never had a heart horse just can’t understand. My mare and I went through a hell of a lot of s**t over the years. Probably more so than with any other horse that I have ever owned. Despite broken bones, frustration and other bulls**t, I don’t think I will ever feel as close to a horse as I did my Z mare. I have had other heart horses, in fact, I’m lucky enough to have two of them currently.
I truly believe that I may never connect with another horse the way I did with Zelda. She had her moments, I had my moments, that’s for sure. When we were good together we were really good together. It goes the other way too, sometimes we clashed like oil and water.
There was something special I saw in that horse, from the day I met her when I was 15 and for all the years I owned her. I will never forget it. I can still feel it now. She was my first heart horse and your first heart horse (in my opinion) will always be your first true love.
Happy Birthday, Zelda!
My triple threat as she was often referred to (Chesnut, warmblood, and a mare make it a trifecta), would have turned 21 years old today. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. I miss her terribly, I’m just so grateful for the time I had with her and the bond we had. She taught me lessons that will last a lifetime.
And that’s why a heart horse is such an amazing thing. I think in every horse person’s lifetime they should get to know what it’s like to have a heart horse. Luckily for me, I get to have more than one!! They are all different in their own way, but are just as special and hold just as big space in my heart.