This post might be repetitive for some people if you’ve been reading along for a while, but I’ve picked up some readers since I talked about Paige on the blog, so I’m going to do this yet again. This time the story is made more poignant to me in that I recently reread a bunch of messages on FB between myself and the trainer whose barn I bought her out of (and who helped with Copper back in 2014 as well). Our conversations about my fear of riding out in a field (on either of the two…) and loping demonstrate to me how far we’ve come and how wonderful the journey has been.
When I got Paige, I hadn’t been riding regularly in years, which I think is pretty obvious from my posture in some of these pictures. It took me a while to relax and realize that this a horse I could really trust. I took a couple of lessons on her at G’s when she was still in training before I brought her home, but believe it or not, I didn’t find the courage to ride her outside the barn at my farm for nearly a year after I got her (with the exception of the above ride plus a couple, but ONLY when someone was at the farm with me). I didn’t lope her until spring of 2015, and I’d never loped her since she’d been out of training when I bought her on in June of 2014. I was too scared.
It didn’t take me long to realize that this mare is solid. She’s not really afraid of anything and she doesn’t put a foot wrong. Honestly, she’s just the type that really takes care of her person. At this point I began planning to breed her for a 2016 foal. As we all know, that was a disappointment. Everything happens for a reason though, and I had a great year riding her and learning to trust her even more in 2015.
Now it is unusual that I bother with a saddle, and I’ve loped her through the pastures bareback in a halter as much as I have tacked. I’ve giggled like a loon pushing myself backwards to dismount by sliding off her butt, went on a couple of trail rides on the New River, pulled a twisted shoe off of her myself with fencing pliers late at night while she stood perfectly, and have just basically found my love of horses again by having her in my life.
When Dad was sick and I was taking care of him, I wasn’t doing anything with my horses (then just Robin and Copper plus Kricket as a boarder) outside of feeding them, and honestly I wasn’t doing a super great job at that. We were in survival mode and once Dad passed away, I was left with this crossroads- do I do the horse thing anymore? I knew Copper was too much horse for me and had him listed for sale. I was going back and forth between just keeping Robin and the mini donkeys on the farm, asking T to board Kricket elsewhere, just taking care of those three on the farm until they passed away versus trying to find my place in the horse world again.
I knew that Copper wouldn’t sell in his current condition (underweight and out of work), so I’d been trying to put weight on him and trying to find a trainer to bring Copper back into the mindset of a riding horse vs. an opinionated pasture puff. Once I found the right trainer for Copper, I was put on his waiting list and I began horse shopping.
My parameters were: AQHA, mare, between 6-12, BROKE, and nice enough to breed if I wanted to. I tried two mares and neither of them felt right before calling up the trainer that I had lined up for Copper and asking if he knew of anything. He mentioned he had a couple in training that mostly fit that description, but that one was a little older at 14, though she sounded like the best fit.
She had been an older gentleman’s main trail horse and won 3rd place at an ACTHA trail ride out of 75 entries. She rode well for me when I went to try her out, and I knew if she put up with my horrible riding after years out of the saddle, she had potential. I was apprehensive that by buying her out of a program where she was being ridden 5x a week that she wouldn’t be the same horse when her lifestyle changed and she became a once or twice a week leisure riding horse.
Obviously my apprehension was for nothing, because she’s been a steady and reliable partner since arriving at the farm and has been exactly what I needed when I needed her.
While we aren’t doing anything remotely serious right now, I thoroughly enjoy my quiet evenings spent with her and Joey. She has proven herself as a wonderful mother this year and I look forward to seeing how Joey grows and to see how he mirrors his mother.
There are some exciting things on the horizon for Paige and I. I would love to push towards trying western dressage with her, and the idea of attempting to work cattle is out there as well- though in a casual, let’s laugh at ourselves sort of way… There is also the possibility of a Joey sibling in the future, just not in 2018 since I want to see what she and I can accomplish together in the near future.
So, here’s to Paige and a wonderful three years with her finding myself as a rider again. Without her, it wouldn’t have happened, and I’d have fewer horses, more money, and deeper tan lines from lounging on a beach somewhere. I wouldn’t trade her for anything.