Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Faster than a speeding bullet....

December 28th, 2009. The day started out early and busy. My niece had stayed over the night before so she could go to riding day camp at my stables. She was very excited and I was excited for her. It was a fairly mild day(-4 Celsius) and the sun was poking out - a perfect day for trail riding.

The kids were going on a trail ride in the afternoon, and I was hoping to tag along and ride with my niece - a first for me. A couple of my adult riding friends, CH and RB, were joining the group, too. I actually got tacked up with Western gear in 10 minutes - a first for me!

Gem was a little antsy and raring to go. There had been freezing rain a couple of days previously which had formed a crust on the snow. Gem was curious and cautious as we started out.

My niece was having a great time. The younger riders were lined up behind LA and the three adults were at the back of the line chatting. I am still a little green when it comes to trail riding so walking, talking and the occasional trot is good enough for me. Gem and I have been together 7 months now and I am just learning how to canter/lope. OK, I know - perhaps slow learning by some standards, but I am not in a rush.

We came to a clearing and LA started to trot across it with the four day campers right behind her. My friend, CH, trotted after the campers. I was next in line and RB was behind me. I held Gem back as I didn't feel comfortable with trotting. As I was trying to maneuver Gem to the side, he started to resist me and then the next thing I knew we went from neutral to 4th gear; from standing to a lope - a first for me.

I have no recollection of how I was holding my reins, and I suspect that my feet were no longer in stirrups. My helmet was simultaneously giving me a concussion and choking me to death with every movement that Gem made. The world was going by me at high speed. I grabbed for the horn desperately hoping that a brake might have magically been installed since the last time I used this saddle. Nope. Just when I thought it couldn't get any more crazy, the next thing I "felt" was Gem powering up and then we were galloping - a first for me.

As we were pounding through the snow, my brain registered that we were heading for a small opening which lead to the next clearing. I could just make out the day campers on the other side of the opening. Holy crap. Within a nano-second, I was able to compute my chances of actually making it through the opening without injury to myself or Gem or the riders lounging on the other side. It didn't look good. Gem helped seal my decision. He came down hard which caused me to slip even further off balance to the right. With my left hand, I used the horn to push myself off of Gem and for a very brief moment, I was flying - a first for me.

My knee hit first, then my elbow, then my shoulder, then my head. The snow looked pristine, but it felt very hard and crispy when I hit. I carefully checked that my legs could move and that I could move my head. I heard RB yelling. He dismounted and came over to me. I got up slowly, dusted myself off. RB helped me back on to the track and we walked over to the group. Gem had made it to the day campers and had stopped.

I was prepared to hand walk Gem back to the barn. LA put a stop to that. She made me mount Gem FROM THE GROUND. I made it on the second attempt - a first for me. The rest of the ride was, thankfully, uneventful.

It's done now. No more wondering about it. I experienced falling off a horse - a first for me. I have some very nice bruises on my knee, leg and elbow. My body is a bit stiff, but I've felt worse. My niece did not see me fall, but she said she heard me scream like a girl. :-) RB said I made a lovely snow angel when I landed.

What was I thinking...?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ice Age??

The wind was howling last night! It was a clear drive to my parent's place yesterday and my husband and I had a lovely visit with them. But today, we woke to ice pellets banging against the windows on the north side of the house and the windows covered with ice on the south side. Our trees and shrubs have a covering of glistening ice. You can hear the ice crack when the branches move. We have an open field behind our house and the large trees on the far side are really bending with the force of the wind. My dogs are being cautious with their decent from the deck. I canceled my lunch plans today; I could have made it down my driveway, but the road is like a skating rink.

Being a new mom, I called the stables to check on Gem. Apparently, he's a little grumpy that he can't go outside today. I feel better knowing that he's not slipping around out there. :-)

I just checked outside again. It is sleeting now, quite heavily. I hope that this weather clears up by tomorrow. My sister is having 25 people over for dinner; we will be picking up my folks and making the 40 minute drive. I don't relish the thought of having to drive in this stuff!

I am glad that I am curled up on the couch with my dogs today. If you are suffering with the same weather, please take care if you have to go out!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Best Wishes!

Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season!! I hope 2010 is everything you hope for. I appreciate your comments, suggestions and support. Thanks for stopping by and happy riding!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Those Darn Birds

LA showed me how to lunge Gem. I have to say it was wonderful to see him moving W-T-C. He reacted immediately to voice commands! I couldn’t believe it. Now it was my turn. OK, I am supposed to hold the lunge line in this hand, the lunge whip in this hand and I am to walk in a square sort of towards him while queuing him with the voice command and the whip. Seems simple enough. Ready, set…. Gem would look at me and walk towards me. I would set him up again, he would wait until I got into position and then walk towards me. Eventually, I got him going. This was hard work! But it was fabulous that he responded to my voice commands. Our lunging sessions were not long. I would end up dizzy and walking around like I had had one too many vodka sodas. A little more work required in this area. :-)

LA suggested that if I could manage it, to lunge him regularly. It would help build a bond and reinforce manners. No problem. One day, I was having a hard time shifting the stick shift of my car. It was painful. By the end of the day, my elbow was aching. I couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on. Jean had to drive me to lesson that night. The next time I went to lunge Gem, I realized why I was having problems with my arm. His constant tugging on the line and the movement of the lunge whip had strained my elbow. I needed to learn to relax and have a soft supple hand!

By the time I had my 3rd lesson on Gem, I only had about 500 butterflies in my stomach instead of 1000. I still wasn't used to his size, but I was starting to get used to his large movement when he was walking. It was time to get it up to a trot. I cued him. Nothing. Again. Nothing. He was totally blowing me off. “You cannot hurt this guy. Give him a kick to get his attention”, LA said. I kicked! He turned his head and looked at me and when I queued him again, he trotted.

LA: “Loosen your grip. You are hanging on to those reins way too tightly. Relax. Soften your hands and your shoulders.”
Me: “Oh, OK. I need to have the birds in my hands.” (see Winter)
LA: “You have birds in your hands???”
Me: “Yes, I have to pretend I have birds in my hands to stop my death grip.”
LA: “OK, then. I’m telling you, you are killing those birds.”
Me: “I will work harder not to.”

His trot was big and every once and a while, he would do this little “skip” that would throw me off balance. His pace was uneven and I was bouncing all over the place. Sometimes my legs would have contact, sometimes not. He would start to bend away from the wall while we were trotting. I was just trying to stay calm and stay on.

“Sit back. You are leaning forward. Head up and look where you are going. And, stop hurting those birds!”

While driving to work the next day, I went through the lesson in my mind and noticed that I had a death grip on the steering wheel. I started pretending that I had birds in my hands when I was driving. Over time, I realized that my shoulders would relax and I could “feel” the car as I was driving. It was a good exercise for me and Gem benefited from it. My hands were more relaxed when I rode Gem and I started feeling when he “released” and stopped resisting the bit (not sure if that’s the right terminology!). My lunging improved. I wasn't being jerked or tugged off balance because I wasn't resisting. Once again I was grateful for the birds.

I had been taking lessons for a month or so and was still working hard at trying to maintain my balance while Gem and I trotted around the arena. One particular time, I gathered up my reins and queued him. He started off, but tripped over his own two feet, stumbled and went right down to his knees. I actually relaxed my body and let the reins slide through my hands as he stretched his neck going down, but I did not let go of them completely. I leaned back as he went down. Gem righted himself (he was not hurt) and I gathered up the reins. "You must have a natural survival instinct!" LA said. "Most people would have gone right over their horse's neck in that situation." I thanked her and started Gem off on a trot again. In reality, the birds played a big part in the outcome of this incident. If my hands had not been so much more relaxed, the reins may not have slid through my hands as easily as they did. If they hadn't slid through my hands as easily as they did, my death grip on the reins would have ensured that I would have been pulled forward and catapulted over his head as he went down. Thank goodness for those birds.

Wait a sec.....did she say I almost fell?????

What was I thinking….?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pucker Up

I couldn’t wait to see Gem. I was absolutely smitten with him. I couldn't stop thinking about him. I couldn’t stop talking about him.

In general, Gem was pretty darn good when I was getting him ready. He stood patiently, lifted his feet nicely and had no issues with the bridle. But, he was not used to being in a stall. I could tell he was on edge. LA told me she would show me how to lunge him to help burn off some of the pent up energy he had. In the meantime, I was spending as much time as I could with him. I was working on “bonding”.

Gem's bottom lip is pink. If you look at him straight on, it looks like he is smiling. So cute. One day, while I was keeping him company, he lowered his head over the stall door and let me scratch behind his ear. I interpreted lowering his head as a sign of relaxation and acceptance. His eyes started to close a little and his pink lip quivered ever so slightly. Breakthrough?! Was he accepting my company? Were we becoming friends? I stepped a little closer as I continued scratching, thinking that this moment of connection may even include some sort of hug between us. As I leaned closer, someone walked into the barn. He snapped back his head (someone's here!), hitting me squarely on the nose. I stumbled back, holding my face. I staggered around, wiping away tears and waiting for the gush of blood. I did not have a nosebleed, but my nose felt “bruised” for days afterwards. My lip was a little sore from my teeth being driven into it by the impact. Who would have thought you could be hurt by your horse when he's in the stall and you are in the aisle???

During this bonding period, I discovered that Gem was a mouther. He was constantly moving his mouth over your clothing, your hands, blankets, anything within reach. I recalled his previous owner telling me that she would treat him all the time and that he could find stuff in her pockets. Oh, boy. He kissed the air as you walked by. And what the heck is this Flehmen response thingy??? I almost had a heart attack the first time he did that while I stood in front of him. Most times the mouthing was gentle, but irritating. Sometimes, if you were not paying attention to him, his teeth would connect with flesh – not hard, but a connection none the less. Look at me. LOOK AT ME! At first, I thought it was because he was scared and looking for reassurance. Both the vet and the farrier said it was a sign of intelligence and curiosity. But, enough is enough! I don’t mind curiosity – that’s one of the things I love about my terriers. But, if connecting with flesh was an outcome of this behaviour, it was not acceptable. I did not want to have to do the Chicken Dance for the next 20 years!

When his mouthing got annoying while grooming him, I started correcting him by either elbowing him or bopping him under the chin and saying “NO!” right in his face. His eyes would widen. I could almost hear him thinking “who the heck IS this crazy person?” Amazingly, his face would get a sad little kid look, making my heart melt. Be strong! He’s playing you!

He was a celebrity at the stables. He was big and riders would come over and visit. I was still trying to figure out barn etiquette and I was a little intimidated at first by “experts” stopping by. I would warn them about his mouthing and ask that they not touch his head. They would touch his head anyway and if he mouthed them, they smacked him. What the heck??!! I would put this behaviour in the same category as me smacking their child because I thought the child was being bad. On two separate occasions I had adults tell me, after I saw them smack my horse a number of times in head, that he had to be corrected when they touched him. I said, “There is a very simple solution. DON’T TOUCH HIM.” I made my point. I did not want him to become head shy. Having others assaulting my horse did not sit well with me. LA and STA were the only two I trusted to discipline Gem in a way I felt comfortable with.

I asked LA if she could ride and evaluate Gem so that my lessons could be geared towards what he needed and what I needed. She warned me that I might not like seeing her on him, because she was not going to let him get away with anything. I was absolutely OK with that.

LA got on Gem from the ground - yes, from the ground. I am sure my mouth dropped open. She's a little taller than me (I'm 5'7"), but I swear that her foot was up around her ear when she put it in the stirrup! Wow. She rode him for about ½ hour, pushing him, correcting him. She got him up to a canter. It was wonderful to see him working; he was getting into it. After her ride, she told me that she liked him, but that he was probably going to be a challenge for me over the next while because he was an 18-wheeler as opposed to a pick-up truck; it was probably going to take twice the effort on my part to get him moving. 18-wheeler, eh?

What was I thinking….?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


HE was named after a precious stone prior to becoming my companion. I felt that because HE was beginning a new life with me, HE should have a new name. I liked and appreciated the precious stone theme and decided that I would call my new friend, Gem:

Something that is valued for its beauty or perfection
A beloved
Held to be a perfect example
A treasure
Brilliant and precious as a piece of jewelry

This description fit the bill in my mind. :-)

The date of my first lesson riding Gem was approaching and I was getting nervous. To take my mind off of my anxiety, I did what I usually do. I went shopping! Funny how being around horses changes your priorities. In the olden days, I would have gone to my favourite shop and bought a couple of outfits for work or partying, or perhaps something sparkly. No longer the to my local tack store I went! I purchased a summer weight pair of breeches (still could not find tummy control version), a beautiful LARGE bridle, 5 1/2” bit and a bright red saddle pad. I went to the hardware store and bought the highest rubber two-step stepping stool they had. My shopping therapy did not help, however.

Jean had moved over to my new place and was taking lessons with me. I was glad for the company. We had both taken one lesson already on school horses so LA could evaluate our skill level. The time had come to have my first lesson on Gem. During the 40 minute drive (rush hour traffic) out to the stables, I thought of a number of reasons why I shouldn’t ride him.

He’s still disoriented and still needs time to get used to his surroundings.
He’s too frisky from being in a stall part-time.
He’s not used to me yet.
He’s too excited about the other horses.
He needs his feet done.
The sun is shining.
He’s still furry.

LA suggested that we have our first couple of lessons in the arena, so that Gem would not be distracted by the other horses in the pasture. Tacking up was no problem. As we got to the open barn door, Gem pushed his way out. Are we going out?! Where are we going?! Whose going to be there?! I had a bit of a time getting him under control. As we opened the gate, he rushed me again causing me to stumble. He basically pushed or pulled me all the way down the lane to the arena. I had never experienced this before and had no clue how to handle it.

Time to get on. I pulled my new ladder over to him. It was still a reach for me to get my foot in the stirrup and I did have to assist myself by using my left hand to bend my knee even further. I was quite impressed that I was able to balance on one leg while standing on ladder. I was also impressed that I could actually bend my leg that much! He stood quietly as I mounted. I didn’t kick his rump as I swung my leg over. A good sign? My heart was pounding. My sports bra seemed too tight - OK, yes, it's always too tight. I don't think I was breathing. Being that high up gave you a whole new perspective. I could actually look down into the arena stalls, freaking out a couple of the horses. LA saw that I had no colour left in my face. Jean was given trotting exercises to do and LA came over and took hold of the reins near the bit and started walking me around the arena. We talked as she lead me around. I was relieved when our time was up. I swung my right leg over him, kicked out my left foot from the stirrup and started to slide down...and down...and down. There was a brief moment when I was gripping my saddle for dear life with my feet dangling, swishing around looking for solid ground.

That's pretty much how my first lesson went on Gem; I sat on him while LA walked me around the arena. It was also pretty much how my second lesson went.

What was I thinking.....?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hellos and Good-byes

The whole purchase process went very smoothly and the pre-purchase exam went well. The only comment the vet made was that HE was “over-conditioned”, which was a polite way of saying that he needed to loose weight. I love that term; over-conditioned. That's what I am. :-)

The most stressful thing for me was the board situation. Within a two week period, the board rate increased an additional $180/month and the availability of space became an issue. I now owned a horse, but could no longer afford to take lessons if I boarded him with The Instructor....and there may or may not be space for him. STA calmed me down and said I could keep him at her place until I decided on where he was to be housed.

At STA's suggestion, I approached the owner of a local riding facility 15 minutes further than where The Instructor was located. The owner, LA, has been riding since she was a small child, she has competed, trained horses for competition and has instructed at all levels. As it turns out, I knew someone who boarded at this place and gave it a glowing recommendation. The environment at LA's facility was geared towards the horse's well-being. It was a little more rustic than I was used to, but the place was spotless and orderly. I liked seeing the horses freely walking around. I liked that she did not use barbed wire fencing. The board rates were excellent and the lesson rates were competitive. The herd was made up of quarter horses, appaloosas and paints with access to 70 acres. HE would be the only one of his breed. This was a "Western" environment; there were only 2 other boarders that rode English. Smiling, she said, "We won't hold that against you."

HE arrived at his new home the next day and as he stepped off the trailer, I could see LA's eyes widen. "He's a big one, isn't he. I think he's a little bigger than 16.0hh" "Really??" The measuring tape came out - HE came in just shy of 16.2hh. I regretted asking. LA estimated his weight around 1500 lbs. HE was anxious and it took a minute to get him settled in a stall. His routine for the next few weeks would be a few hours day of paddock time on his own and then HE would be slowly introduced to the mixed herd. HE was anxious to meet his new friends.

I went back to The Instructor and told him that I had found another place to house my boy and thanked him for all of his help. We parted on good terms.

My riding buddy, Jean, was going to take lessons with me at the new place. She asked if I would come and watch her last lesson with The Instructor. Everyone was excited to see me and hear about my boy. As I was watching Jean's lesson, I noticed a man standing at the entrance of the barn, looking a bit lost. I asked if he needed assistance. He was new and having his first lesson that night. It turned out that GM was to be his mount. I showed him where the tack was and then took him to meet GM. I gave GM a nice rub as I told him about the lessons and then slipped her halter on and put her in the cross-ties. I told him how great GM was for building confidence and how smooth her ride was and how much she taught me. Then I heard myself saying "Stop and say hi to her and then ease into it. Respect her. Don't rush her.....". When I was showing him how to tack up, GM was the perfect lady. I think she knew I wasn't coming back and it was her way of a "gift", a last memory. As he was donning his helmet, I wished him luck, I deeply breathed in GM's smell for the last time, gave her a gentle rub around her eyes and walked away.

GM and me.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Canadian, eh?

I contacted Megan and made a date. It was a supposed to be a 6 hour drive to see him, but I didn't realize STA's massive pickup truck had a jet engine under the hood and we made it to the stables in 4½ hours. We were farther north and it was colder and there was still snow on the ground. As we were driving up the long lane up to the house, there HE was, prancing through the snow along side the white paddock fence, bobbing his head and greeting us. Majesty in motion. OMG. My heart was racing.

I had done some research on the Canadian breed before our road trip. I am embarrassed to say that, as a Canadian myself, I didn’t realize that we actually had a national horse breed.

Excerpt from Wikipedia: The Canadian Horse is a breed of horse developed in Canada. Although previously relatively unknown due to its rarity, the Canadian Horse has influenced many other North American breeds, including the Morgan, American Saddlebred, and Standardbred. Although there have been several times when the breed almost went extinct, now the Canadian Horse has many enthusiasts within and outside of Canada. The Canadian Horse gave rise to the Canadian Pacer, which has had a profound impact on many of the gaited breeds of today. On April 30, 2002, a bill was passed into law by the Canadian Government making the Canadian Horse an official symbol of Canada.

Beautiful, tall, slim and blonde (of course) Megan, who was decked out in dressage gear, greeted us enthusiastically and we walked down to the paddock where HE was now trotting around and kicking up his heels. As he came up to the fence I started to have a bit of anxiety. He was big! As a matter of fact, he was massive. I had prepared myself for a horse that was tall and built like the jumpers I was used to seeing where I took lessons. HE was a lot heavier, with a solid build and feet the size of side plates.

Megan slipped the halter on him and up we went to the barn. I asked if I could tack up alone. Holy crap, HE was big. But HE was very patient and showed interest in what I was doing. I brushed him from head to toe. What a work out! Taller and bigger than GM, I really had to stretch and reach to do a good job. HE was very well behaved. No Chicken Dance required here! I only had to tap his leg and HE lifted it for me so I could clean his hoof. I lifted my saddle up....and up...just a little higher.... It was elevated just about over my head when I placed it on his back. The girth extender was let out as far as it could go. I had to stand on my tippy toes to adjust everything. At this point, I met his owner. As we shook hands she started to cry. I comforted her and we walked him out to the paddock together.

STA and I watched Megan put him through his paces – she loved my saddle. :-) His transitions were lovely and smooth and he was very responsive to her leg. STA then got on him and was deliberately bouncy and yanked at the bit, pretending that she was me. :-) He did not react, he just went with it. Then my turn. My heart was pounding. I was really, REALLY, REALLY high off the ground. The colour drained from my face. STA was right beside me, quietly saying “Breathe. In. Out. I won’t leave your side until you are ready.” Eventually, I was able to walk him around on my own and actually got him up to a trot a couple of times. His size did intimidate me, but I loved the intelligence and kindness in his eyes.

We spent a couple of hours around him. I turned him out, and as I was locking the gate behind me, STA came up to me and basically said that if I didn’t buy this horse I was an idiot. Other than being quite a bit bigger than what we were initially looking for, he had everything on the wish list. She also felt that he would provide me with subtle challenges that could only improve my riding capabilities; he was not push-button.

We both walked back to the barn and talked to the owner and Megan. The deal was made, tears were shed, a date for the pre-purchase exam was agreed on and STA and I were back on the road. I was silent in the car for the first 5 minutes. I was trying to absorb what had just taken place. STA looked at me and said, “You just bought your own horse. YOU JUST BOUGHT YOUR OWN HORSE! WHOO HOO!!!!” There must have been about 1000 butterflies in my stomach. I looked at her and quietly said, “I own my own horse. Ho-ly crap.”

What was I thinking….?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Walk Away, Come Running

I couldn't believe (sadly) the number of ads for horses looking for homes. It was crazy. My riding lesson buddy, Jean, was very supportive and I would bounce ideas off of her and we would send ads back and forth. She admitted that she was living vicariously through me. I let The Instructor know I was looking for a horse and he indicated that there was room for my new companion to board at his facility.

I decided I wanted a been-there-done-that gelding, ”easy keeper”, barefoot, between the ages of 8-14 and that was going to be able to carry a round person. STA agreed with my wish list. I came close a few of times of making the wrong decision, but fortunately STA was the (screaming) voice of reason.

Me: "I test rode this horse (gorgeous 15.0hh Norwegian Fjord), and have had the pre-purchase exam. He was listed as a great trail horse, but also rides English. The vet says he looks like he may have some slight tendon issues in his right front leg because he shows some sensitivity over time doing circles to the right. Other than that, he's great! What do you think?"
STA: "Are you planning on having your lessons doing circles to the left only?"
Me: "I see your point."
STA: "You need to learn how to ride. Let him find a home where he can just do trail riding. Walk away."

Me: “What about this handsome Palamino? Has everything except he has mild COPD.”
STA: "Based on my personal experience, a horse with COPD has good days and bad. He is not an "easy keeper". If you were the primary caregiver on a daily basis, you may be able to manage this. But you won’t be. Walk away."

Me: "What about this beautiful dun mare? She was trained but hasn’t been ridden in a few years because she’s been a brood mare."
STA: "You are not experienced enough to re-train her. Walk away."

Me: "OK, this guy has everything!"
STA: "He only has 30 days of professional training."
Me: "I know! Professional training; great, eh?"
STA: "He's green broke, not a horse that has been-there-done-that. Walk away."

And so it went - sigh.

One night, I happened upon a newly posted ad for a registered Canadian gelding. There he was, a glory of blackness with a white spot on his forehead. A childhood memory presented itself...Black Beauty! Here he was staring back at me from inside my computer screen. MY Black Beauty? I immediately started an email communication with the lovely young woman, Megan, who was selling him for the owner.

He is 8 years old and his owner is a 45-year old woman who’s circumstances have changed dramatically and she can no longer keep him. She used him for trail riding, but I use him occasionally for lessons. He rides English or Western. He is smart and needs to be ridden regularly so he doesn’t get bored. He is used to living outside. When there are bad storms he comes in if he has too. I used him in a lesson with an older man one year. He hadn't been on a horse in like 30 years and needed to start right from scratch. He was so good and patient with him. And this man was really rough on him. Not intentionally but just cause he was learning again. I would have to say I have never been more proud of him! He has always been barefoot and only needs good quality grass hay. He is an easy keeper.

What??? Trail riding. English or Western. Easy keeper. Barefoot. Is OK with beginners. Has had old people ride him. HE sounded PERFECT. Oh, BTW, how tall is HE??? What? Around 16.0hh??!! Holy crap! “But HE doesn’t feel big when you are on him.” she says, “You feel secure.”

OK, so really, the difference between 15.0hh and 16.0hh is only 4 inches. Really, what’s the big deal? I confer with my horse expert to see if he was worth the 6 hour drive for a look-see. Road trip!! Yipee!!!

What was I thinking……..

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I realized a few years ago that my life is as I envisioned it when I was 20 years old; my husband, my home, my job, my lifestyle. I am not sure how, but I think I had my dreams and I subconsciously worked towards them. Horses have always been in my life. I read all the horse books when I was a little girl - Black Beauty, the Black Stallion were favourites. I had a bit of a talent for drawing in my younger days and the first animal I worked on perfecting was a horse. As a kid, the 3-day drive to Newfoundland from Ontario every 2nd summer would have me seated on the shoulder side of the car and fantasizing that there was a big, black horse galloping along side us, jumping over any obstacle that may be in his way. I think that taking riding lessons was the first step in reaching a subconscious goal.

Google became my new best friend. I had no idea the power of its search capability! I felt empowered. I researched horses, vet and farrier costs, the definition of“easy keeper”, and the pros and cons of going barefoot. I learned about backyard breeders and conformation faults (thank you Fugly Horse of the Day!! Amazingly, I could do all of this work while stretched out on my sofa watching my television shows or having a vodka soda, thanks to the laptop my husband bought me for my birthday. I was letting my fingers do the walking (that was an old Yellow Pages tag line for those too young to remember!).

Out of the blue, a friend I had lost contact with found me on Facebook. STA has been riding for over 20 years and was thrilled that I was taking lessons. I spent the afternoon at her place hanging out in the barn with her three horses, mucking out, talking, grooming, and feeding. She found it amusing that I had no issues with getting dirty. Her passion for horses was mesmerizing. I saw first-hand some of the health issues and special needs of an elderly horse (digestive and breathing in this case). "Do you think I am crazy for considering getting my own horse at this stage in my life?" I asked. "Go for it!" was the reply. I was elated. She explained the good, the bad and the ugly of horse ownership. I appreciated her frankness about being a responsible owner and her enthusiastic support of my mid-life adventure (crisis?).

I believe STA came back into my life for a reason. It was fate. Getting a horse was meant to be. Perhaps I had been sending out signals through the airwaves. All I knew was that I was grateful that I now had someone who was willing to be my sanity check when I was being insane. Let the search begin!

What was I thinking....?