I like to believe that every equestrian has that once-in-a-lifetime horse. The one horse that you love unconditionally, the horse that tests your limits, pushes your buttons, pulls through when you need them most and teaches you the ropes of real horse riding. Few are fortunate enough to have one extraordinary horse, but most equine lovers have multiple horses that are important to them in different ways.
Over the course of my life I have had the opportunity to ride many horses and ponies, each with their own personality traits. I have had two horses that have particularly stood out in my life, one pony and one horse to be exact. My first “fancy” pony’s show name was “Con Queso” (meaning “with cheese”), which everyone finds funny. Not only was this pony famous for the results he produced in competition, but “Cheese,” as we called him for short, was notorious for his big heart. The first time I sat on Cheese, I felt like I was riding an elephant. The pony was entirely too big for me, and Cheese was incredibly athletic for an 18 year old.
The first time I jumped over a fence, I hit the ground before I knew it. Cheese had such scope over the jumps, and it made it hard for my 80 pound self to hold on. After many lessons, and many falls, I finally got the hang of it. That pony was so patient with me, as I made numerous mistakes, blamed him for my poor judgment and angered him with my lack of balance and experience. I remember Cheese actually looking back at me as I sat in the saddle as if to say, “I have been doing this a lot longer, kid.” Cheese took me to the highest level on a pony and prepared me for the transition to a horse. Today, I look back fondly on everything that he taught me; that determination gets the job done and that even old ponies can throw you off!
In 2006, I started the search for my first horse. As I waved goodbye to the ponies, I looked forward to learning more and competing at a higher level. Since I was constantly growing, my parents only leased ponies for me rather than purchasing them. When I was 15 years old, and basically done growing, we made the decision to buy my first horse. After trying and comparing 12 horses, I found the one. My mother says that my entire face lit up as I picked up the trot on the flashy mare named “Drama Queen.” After much begging and promising to work hard, the papers were signed and Drama Queen was mine. Little did I know that my first horse would be my once-in-a-lifetime horse.
Drama Queen was young when I purchased her, but there was remarkable talent that shined through her inexperience. Drama Queen is a hunter, which means she is judged on her jumping style, elegant movements and pleasant temperament. Saying this horse is beautiful is an understatement – she is gorgeous. I had a lot of trouble learning how to ride “Drama,” and the wins did not come as easily as I had imagined. Instead, Drama was teaching me how to win. She taught me not to expect everything to come so easily, and that hard work was necessary.
After many frustrations and tears, the blue ribbons started to flow. Drama and I now understood each other inside and out, and we became an invincible team. Every goal I set as a rider, this horse fulfilled for me. Not kidding, every single one! I still own Drama today and our bond is undeniable. Currently, Drama Queen is recovering from an injury, and it is so rewarding to feel her strength and athleticism coming back to her.
I am now competing with a new mount named Jazz, who I ride in the jumper divisions. This means we try not to knock down any fences in a speedy time. I sincerely hope that Jazz and I will be able to form a strong partnership over time, while he teaches me things that I was prepped and primed for by my two favorite equine friends.