Hi. My name is EJ. I'm 15 years old, and I've been riding for about 10 years. It all started off with my aunt, who had me sitting on a horse before I could sit up. By age 4 I could trot, and at age 5 I could canter a horse in an English saddle. Then, I started dressage lessons at a local barn. When I got bored with that, I moved on to jumping. I did hunters/jumpers for about 6 years. But I got tired of doing the same stuff over and over again. Don't get me wrong, I love jumping, and I love riding even more. But showing was too much, and I hated all the prep put into just one day, or one weekend, of failure. See, I never owned my own horse. I bouced back and forth between bored old lesson horses, to the crazed problem ponies constantly. I hated not knowing what to expect for my once-a-week lesson. So, I stopped riding. And for 6 months of my life, I was irritated at everything. Riding was my release, but since I no longer did that, I took up music.
I've been playing piano almost as long as I've been riding. Then in 5th grade, I learned clarinet. All through middle school (and the beginning of high school) I was a mediocre clarinet player. Then, I learned the trombone. And I became darn good at that instrument. Now, I'm first chair in my high school, a constant representitive of my school at band events, and planning on becoming a music teacher. But, my plans all changed.
I was introduced to HETRA, the Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy in 2007. It was a chance for me to work with two things that I love 1) children, and 2) horses. I spend every Sunday there, leading horses, grooming horses, feeding horses, working horses, helping children, organizing tack, and of course, cleaning stalls. And I love it. Now, I want to try physical therapy as a job. And do run something like HETRA. As I was just getting used to a routine based around horses, another factor was thrown in.
A few weeks back, my family recieved an e-mail from a work friend at my dad's job, asking if we would be interested in a free horse. Me, the horseless and desperate teenager, was definatly interested. My parents decided that since I'm almost 16, a responsible all-Honors student, a loyal Girl Scout, and a top volunteer at HETRA, that they would give the whole horse-ownership thing a try. So, my whole family packed up the mini-van (that I so lovingly call the Land Whale) and headed to one little barn in Iowa.
When I first heard about Horse X, I was worried. He was O.L.D. at about 22 years old. But, he had been trained in hunters and jumpers, which was something I wanted. His current owner couldn't afford to keep him, and wanted someone to take him. That day, we all headed out to this barn. When we got there, there were dogs, little kids and cats running around. A girl was riding in the arena on a 5 year old, blind stallion with no helmet and no shoes on. And I thought "Oh crap. This isn't going to work" and I was ready for heartbreak. I met his owner, and she seemed nice, and knowedgable... which is more than I can say for the rest of the people. She led me out to a cruddy little paddock outside the arena. I saw one tall, brilliant chestnut running at the fence. At first, for some reason, I thought his was Horse X. The owner laughed. "That horse, he's so show-offy. Over there is Red." I turned my head to see in the opposite side of the paddock, was the rump of a dusty, dull chestnut horse. His hip was cocked out, and I immediatly felt sad. But, as the owner turned the horse around, I was face to face with the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. He had big, pensive brown eyes, a small white star on his forehead, and a shaggy sorrel forelock. The owner and I walked him back to the grooming place. We both worked on removing the dust off his coat. As I rubbed my purple rubber curry comb over his back, a brilliant sheen was coming on his coat. We worked all over till he glowed. And the loving creature chewed lovingly on a carrot I had fed him. I was amazed at this horse.
And it only got better as I got one. I slipped my purple saddle pad and tan Beval saddle onto his back. The owner let me borrow her girth and bridle. After I was tacked up, I led him to the arena. The shoe-less helmet-less girl still rode, but I mounted, not expecting much. But let me tell you, he was much. Giant strided, head bobbing, and pleasently tall. We fit together perfectly. I even got him on the bit as I worked him around cones, over poles laid on the grown, and in figurines. And it was then that I knew this horse was for me.
This miraculous horse came to me so suddenly. His name is Red. Registered as Memorial Red, he is the grandson of Affirmed, the last Triple Crown winner in history. And he's mine.
As you've seen (and read) I've had some experience with the equine. I only hope it continues on for the longest while now.