All good times must come to an end so new ones can begin. We don't always want our good times to end because we enjoy them so much. When they do we feel depressed and torn,sometimes angry even. It appears to me my good times turned great are coming to an end but fear not, for new times are about to begin!
Six months ago I began riding lessons with fabulous horse named Cody and a patient, encouraging, kind instructor, Julie. Cody has assisted and shaped me and my love for horses in more ways than one can imagine. I walked into these lessons nervous. When we first went to meet Julie I was in the car going over all the scenarios that would happen. "The stable would be a trash help filled with sway - backed horses and uptight equestrian snobs. Julie would assign me the biggest, most highstrung horse she had available and I'd leave crushed. The arena would be filled with horses and riders everywhere and I'd be the lost sheep, paralyzed by fear. The horse I'd have to ride would be untested like my previous mount and this time he would throw me if not take off with me in tow. My instructor would be like Hitler and harass me nonstop,pushing me beyond my physical and emotional boundaries. She wouldn't know a lick about riding and be just as clueless as me. She'd take my silence as a sign of a false love for horses and not take me seriously ever. I'd never be trusted to ride on my own or handle other horses on my own." All these pretty much bounced around my head as we drove to Sandalwood Ranch. Then we pulled up the driveway.
A dirt road with potholes and a decently sized house in need of cosmetics greeted my eyes. A small red barn full of equipment and a small, dark stable filled with horses welcome us. I saw a "pasture" filled with mud and water and two horses. A handsome buckskin who looked moody and abay colt(yearling). The Young yearling was very forward and obnoxious. Coming right to the fence and thrusting his Wet muzzle into my face while the buckskin studied me from behind, a wary look in his eye. In the stable a gorgeous black(bay) mare with big ears and a beautiful face looked at us. Across from her a chestnut Paint glared out at me and across from her was a large Thoroughbred. A big arena was situated not to far back and nice pasture land with horses residing on it rolled out. The outdoor arena wasn't impressive. The fence looked liked TLC was in order and the size was small. Soon after we arrived I introduced myself to the two horses outside, a white pickup truck came rolling up the drive and a blonde woman smiled and waved. I knew this was Julie as my parents said she drove a white pickup truck. I wasn't convinced she'd be good for teaching Western since her bio said she excelled in Dressage and the only time I saw Western mentioned was for Western Dressage, which is not Western at all. But, my knowledge on horses and their care and handling came from books and tv shows, hers came from actual hands-on experience, which I didn't have. She came out of the truck towards us as I was petting the Young yearling. "That's Dragon you're petting, a Trakehner. And the other one is Cody, a Quarter Horse gelding, from Hollywood Dun It's line. He'll probably be your mount". So I finally met a Trakehner in the flesh, he was handsome. I'd seen Quarter Horses before, my Uncle breeds them and when I was six I rode one of his chestnut mares and sat on his palomino filly, who was two at the time. Most of my favorite reiners and cutters are Quarter Horses. I read all about them, met and rode some, was never really impressed. They're good for beginners was as far as my love goes. I plan on breeding some and owning some to use for all the Western competitions I plan on doing when I graduate college. She introduced herself to be Julie Fleming, I have heard her name before, probably at a show my mom took me to, as she judges them for 4h apparently. Her blue eyes sparkled,literally sparkled,with warmth. She smiled as she awaited me to state my name. I somehow managed to say my name in a voice loud enough for her to hear, an accomplishment considering I can't talk to people. She walked to the stable and I followed,she has horses and I desperately wanted to see them. I knew the red mare was probably a Paint or QH, and I'd guess the other was a Thoroughbred, but the big mare had me stumped. I racked my brain, searching for different horses I had read, wrote and dreamed about. She resembled an Andalusion, I knew that much. And I knew Andys can be sizable at times. She was obnoxious and social. Shoving her nose into my chest and nuzzling right away. Andalusion horses like people, so perhaps she was just a big Andy mare. "That's Rosa(aka Rosa De Los Vientos,i saw a picture of her on the website, she was beautiful), she's my mare and an Azteca. Are you familiar with them?" Was I familiar with Azteca horses? Um, yes! I've written school reports on them and visited different websites and read all about them. These horse are awesome and perfect in everyway. I wanted to scream YES I know these horse. Her sire was Andalusion and dam, given her height, was probably a Paint as QH are usually smaller giving a smaller Azteca. "The mare across is a Paint and her mother. Across from her is Gentleman Jac, a Thoroughbred gelding, would've raced if not for an injury. He's a sweetheart." I was in love with the horses and I didn't even know them. Julie walked outside and my parents followed while I reluctantly peeled myself away from Rose. She gave Cody and Dragon water and then placed her full atttention on us. "So, what do you want in these lessons. What kind of horse were you thinking. Are competitions in the future and what discipline did you wish to try?" I had to answer, somehow I did and survived. "I want to do Western, no Dressage. The smallest horse you have and still be a horse. No competitions as of now and I want to be independent in the end." I learned Cody would be my mount. We arranged for lessons to be every Wednesday at six.
The first lesson was cancelled, she had a migraine. This seemed familiar. My first lesson with Sandy was almost cancelled because her pony foundered,leaving her sixteen hand gelding as my only other choice. I ended up riding him and it was horrible I couldn't even approach a large horse without crumbling. Rose was and is the first horse of size and personality that I've approached in a while. The next week we went out as scheduled and the first lesson went great. Cody seemed to be a lazy horse with a kind spirit. Our lessons continued to go well, we had ups and downs but they continued to help me feel better about being terrified of horses for three years. Perhaps I was being too hard on myself. My worst lesson occured a month - two months later. Julie was out of the state and her partner, Ariel was supposed to help me. She explained she wouldn't be able to give a lesson, but I could still come out and ride. Her student, 14 year old Maddie, was supposed to shadow me and assist me too. Unfortunately that didn't workout. Maddie rides Duchess and on that day decided to try jumping her. It went rather terribly and both Cody and Duchess were feeling hostile. I was feeling nervous, claustophobic and tense,so took Cody to ride in the outdoor arena, giving Maddie the indoors to herself. Cody acted rotten. He refused to listen to me, when we cantered he went to fast for me. Then he just stopped, sending me flying over the saddle horn on to his neck. After a long discussion and lots of kicking, he decided to consider bucking. I got off and lunged him a bit, and then got back on. We stuck a basic pattern until it got too dark to see. I left literally shaking and angry. At everyone.
My next lessons went a lot smoother, a few times I was privileged enough to ride beside Julie and Rose through the back pasture. In November I started leasing Cody and we've been thriving together ever since. We've had a lot of downs and a ton of ups. But he's become my partner and friend. He's pushed me to places I didn't wish to go but am Glad I did. Cody has helped me to assert myself and search out my voice. He's helped me develop confidence in all I do, rekindled old goals and given me a taste of independence and freedom long desired. He comforts me on bad days and never fails to make me laugh or smile,no matter what. Because of Cody new doors have opened and he has shown me a future with horses. He's a horse I will never forget,ever. Julie has been a big help too. My rock when I face any issues in my horse world. Even when I'm mad, angry and frustrated she doesn't seem to lose her cool as she calmly shows me how to find the solution. Julie has shown me different possibilities. I met and observed a farrier and chiropractor as they worked on her horses. I saw different possible careers that helped sculpt my final decision to become a Veterinarian for cows and Horses. She's allowed me tag along with her to different horse activities and taxied me for rides and lessons. Julie had the patience to teach me all I know and show me I DO know what I'm doing, to stop doubting myself.
Those thoughts I had in the very beginning proved to be false and laughable now.
This has been the best journey ever. Between Cody and Julie this will always be unforgettable. But I don't think this is the final end. I believe more is to come. We're not done yet, and if we are, so be it. Perhaps I'm ready to advance in my goals. When one door closes another door opens. The next door holds my future shadowing a vet and perhaps the next will lead me back to Cody. One never knows.
~~~~~~~have a happy ride~~~~~~~~~~~