Monday, July 23, 2012

Horsey nightmare

This morning I woke up in a total snit and tizzy. And for good reason--I had a nightmare that kept rattling around in my head, even on my morning run.

In the dream I arrived at Gentle Giants on the morning of the show that I am really doing this fall with a Perch/TB named Levi, but instead of Levi I was going to show Spur, my old TB gelding that I free-leased in high school.
Back when I thought short hair was a good idea.
Once I arrived, I overheard one of the other volunteers criticizing me for showing my horse on the same day that he was supposed to get chemotherapy. What?! The dream version of me had no idea that Spur had cancer or that his chemotherapy was on the same day as the show and felt terrible (The real-life me has no idea if he is even still alive since he should be about 25 now). I skulked around the barn (which was a creepy multi-level garage) looking for Spur and trying to figure out what to do now that everyone at Gentle Giants thought I was a horrible person. Then I woke up.

What is that supposed to mean!?

Here are more pictures of Spur (so-named because he was lazy and you needed spurs).

I thought he was soooo fast!

But he was always happy to come back to a lazy walk when I asked.

Love this picture.

This was one of my last rides on him before I left for college.

I don't think I've told the blogosphere about how I came to free-lease Spur. I was 15 years old, and I was taking weekly lessons at a small, very competitive hunter/jumper barn. I wanted to join the ranks of the girls whose parents had bought them $75,000 show horses (no, that is NOT an extra zero) and who showed every weekend--not to gain entry to their clique, but because I could see that they were much better riders, and that they got much more personalized attention from the instructor as they worked out training their horses. I had gone as far as I could with the dead-broke, push-button schoolies, and I just didn't feel like I was learning much any more.

Buying a $75,000 horse, or any horse for that matter, was not something my parents were interested in doing. From my brief foray into showing for a season, they had already wised up to the fact that horses were a neverending money pit. So I half-jokingly asked my instructor if he could find a horse for me to ride.

A few weeks later, I showed up for my lesson and made my way to the arena to ask which school horse I was assigned to ride. Instead of the usual "You're on Moon/Spotty/Navajo," he said, "Your horse is the gray out in the small paddock."

I couldn't believe it. I had never expected any kind of follow-through, but here was a beautiful fleabitten gray that I was free to ride any time I wanted to while his owner was away at college in Florida. I didn't even have to buy my own saddle. He taught me to gallop, to caper through the woods chasing deer (Spur loved it. I wouldn't even steer.), and to be the leader in our relationship, ie. not letting him root and buck just for fun (well, the occasional "yippeee we're outside!" buck was ok). Once he couldn't jump any more and I didn't use him for lessons, we just putzed around in the fields bareback (with a bareback pad. He had quite the shark fin).

One of my funnier memories with him was when he was lame for a month or so. I came out to the farm to graze, groom, and generally love on him. I was the only person at the farm, and a woman with her children came walking up the gravel driveway.

Spur was munching happily on some grass next to the fence line. The woman asked me how I liked taking lessons there because she was thinking of signing her kids up for lessons. While I was telling her about all of this, I didn't notice that some of the school horses had come up to the fence to check out Spur. You can see where this is going.

Lazy old Spur REARED up, squealed like a girl, and in his attempt to strike at the schoolies, he THWACKED me in the shoulder with his front hoof. I wasn't hurt, but the woman was horrified.

"I swear he's never done this before," I told the lady and her kids. And it was true! But I guess Spur wanted to show them exactly what they'd be in for if they got into the world of horses.

I will always remember him and appreciate that he turned me from a weekly lessoner to a full-on horse addict who thinks it's hilarious when horses punch her in the shoulder.

All smiles (oblivious of my knee-pinching!)


  1. I laughed at his name - we once had a horse named 'Canter', because she wouldn't!
    Spur looks huge!

  2. Well I thought he was big until I started volunteering at a draft rescue! He was 17hh, the tallest at the farm :)