In the spirit of St. Valentine's Day, I thought I would share a love story......
R. registered her daughter, Mary, in a summer camp at LA's a year ago. Neither her or her daughter had been exposed to horses up until that point. R. would hang around after dropping Mary off, and then over the week of camp started helping the staff and kids get ready. She watched Mary ride in the morning classes, noticing how her daughter's nervousness changed to elation over the week. When everyone went on the afternoon trail rides, R. would do her running around and come back by 4:00 p.m. to pick up Mary. Mary couldn't keep her enthusiasm in check on the drive home and would talk non-stop about the horses and her new friends. :-)
R. and her husband decided to register Mary in weekly lessons. Mary took to riding like a duck to water. R. watched her shy Mary gain more confidence and make friends. And, R. found herself enjoying being around the barn and admitted to me that she had a hard time leaving. :-) Mother and daughter had discovered that they loved being around horses.
As I got to know R. a little better, she told me a bit about her life. She is originally from Newfoundland and came to Ontario when she was 20 to live with her sister. She became a hair stylist and worked at a high end salon/spa. She met a guy and eventually moved in with him and got engaged. Her husband-to-be was sporadically employed, but they were both young and there was lots of time to settle down. During this 5 year time period, she had a regular client who came in every 3 weeks for a trim. They got to know each other very well and John became a good friend. As her wedding day approached, R. realized that her feelings for John may be more than friendship, but she did not act on them. The wedding took place and two years later, she was pregnant. All this time, John continued to come in every 3 weeks for a trim. When R. was 6 months pregnant, her husband decided that he couldn't handle fatherhood and abandoned her. Fortunately, R. had family here to help her. When John heard of what happened, he declared his love for her, explaining that he had loved her from the start - "Do you really think I needed to have my hair trimmed every 3 weeks! It was love at first sight!" R. was flabbergasted and after she gave her head a shake, she told him of her feelings for him. They took it slow and two years later, R. and John got married and moved to a big mansion (he's a big-wig at an international company). John has loved Mary since the day she was born and although she sees her biological father occasionally, Mary considers John her dad. R. never dreamed that her life could be as good as it is. Ah, love.....
Last October, as I was coming in from a trail ride, another boarder came rushing over and told me to hurry Gem into the barn....there was a surprise birthday celebration going on. I quickly pulled off Gem's saddle and put him in his stall. A group had gathered in the barn aisle. Mary and her mother entered the barn with John. They were told to hurry because there was going to be a surprise for a new boarder. Everyone stood around...waiting. LA then walked over to a stall and walked out this lovely sorrel QH and handed the lead to Mary and said "Happy Birthday". Mary took the lead, but looked around. "Do you mean me?", she asked. R., who had no idea what was happening, looked at John and asked what was going on. He responded that he loved seeing Mary so happy riding, and if Mary was happy then R. was happy and if they were happy, then he was happy. :-) He had worked secretly with LA for weeks to find the perfect horse for Mary. The penny dropped, and Mary tentatively petted Ringer's face and looked into his eyes, then gave him a big hug. It was love at first sight. R. started to cry, Mary started to cry.....well, OK, we all started to cry. :-)
Mary couldn't love that horse more. Ringer is perfect for her. He is in great shape and is trained as a reiner. Mary continues to take weekly lessons and is learning how to ride him properly. She's not sure if she's going to go into reining or games, but it's nice to have the choice. She and her mother are at the barn every single day. In fact, LA had to tell Mary that Ringer needed to have a break occasionally! :-) When Mary isn't riding Ringer, she is grooming him. They are the perfect owners, making sure that his health and feet are taken care of.
The deal was always that Mary had to maintain her studies if she wanted to ride. She has kept up her end of the bargain. The love Mary has for riding and her horse are a great motivator. R. continues to hang around the barn and helps out where needed while Mary rides. She brings in horses, sweeps up, fills the water buckets, feeds. She has told me that, coming from a professional "spa" background, she never thought she would love hanging around a BARN. WTH? :-)
Even though John does not spend much time at the barn, he benefits from the positive impact that horses have had on his loved ones. R. and her daughter are doing something together, which makes their bond stronger. Ringer has found a partner that absolutely adores him. It's win, win all around. In fact, I suspect that all the families of the people I know at the barn benefit from having a horse as part of the family. :-) I have said it before and I will say it again: Horses are magic. R. has gotten on Ringer a couple of times and walked him around. She likes it! She has mentioned that lessons are in her future. I think it's just a matter of time before John finds R. a horse of her own. :-)