Friday, December 19, 2008

History

The day before St. Patricks Day, in 1995, I anxiously awaited for the truck and trailer to pull up the drive. The stalls had just been finished, we hadn’t yet hung the gate to the paddock. I was in fifth grade, MW Jack Daniels (b1980), called by Jack, mostly, was fifteen. He’s a gray Arabian, experienced in the show arena, and he was my First horse. I paid half for him; on his papers is both my name and my mother’s name. He and I enjoyed several 4-H shows, starting in western, going on to English and western, and even versatility! We had a hard time getting ribbons at first, both due to my inexperience and being and Arabian in a QH world. Then we started qualifying to go to the state fair, and did okay. Then it was time to try the Arabian class A shows. We did allright, and I also showed my mom’s Arabian, Midas, sometimes. I really loved showing, worked all summer long through high school driving horsedrawn carriage tours through downtown (the best job I could have EVER had!) to afford it, but it was so much fun. I never got nervous, just went out there and showed my horses.

My dream was to have an Arabian horse farm, a boarding and training facility, and I was coached by someone I really look up to in the industry that it was time for me to get a horse that was younger that could compete at a higher level. By then, Jack was getting quite old, and at 14-2 hands, isn’t a big horse. I’m 5’8”. His arthritis was also beginning to bother him, and he’s been retired from riding for several years now.

In 2000 I bought RM Arabee (b1997), at three years old, and mostly halter broken. She has perfect ground manners, and once we achieved that I started working towards getting in the saddle – by the time she was 5 years old, this filly was broke to ride by me! We showed both 4-H and class A Arabian shows and I was (am) very proud of this mare. Then I graduated high school in 2002 and went off to college. Came home one weekend and mom and I went trail riding on a beautiful September day. This was Arabee’s first trail ride, and she did very well! She was calm, crossed the water and logs very well. We stopped and got out the map to see how far we’d come, and the wind caught it. Before I know it, I’m on the ground and trying to figure out how I got there. Turns out I had received a compression fracture in my spine, which still bothers my from time to time, but not regularly. After that I’m told to stay off the horses or any compression activity (running, etc) for several weeks, and the pretty mare sits in the paddock waiting.

In 2005 we moved Jack and Arabee to their new home after my husband and I were married. Where we live now is the ideal place to keep horses, plenty of pasture, shelter, access to beautiful places to ride. All I needed was someone to ride with me, which I didn’t have, since Arabee was really very green still, and I am a great big chicken. I rode a little, but since we live on a farm, EVERYTHING scared her, and at the time she was the kind of horse that needed to be ridden close to daily for a couple of weeks before she was fun to work with. So, Jack and Arabee enjoyed their pasturing, and got fat.

The fall/winter of 2006 I got the itch to try pleasure driving. I am always more confident on the ground (or, not in the saddle!) and Arabee was great at ground driving. I worked with her close to 5 days a week all through that winter ground driving all around our farm, and was getting close to being ready to find harness and hitch her. I wanted to “traffic-proof” her before I bought a harness, because if I couldn’t get her used to motor vehicles, she’d never make a driving horse and why waste the money. About the time I was ready to start that process in early May 2007, we found out I was pregnant! I considered trying to sell Arabee, since I knew it would be tough to have a green horse with our growing family. Well, the horse market has dropped awfully, and since we knew what we have with Arabee, and she’s a very easy keeper, she stayed. And sat in the pasture some more.

Our daughter was born in December, 2007, and I got the itch to try driving again. My husband was talking to a neighbor about this, and he said it’s a good idea to have a trustworthy, safe saddle horse before you try to hitch that horse. Well….we had some work to do. So in September I swung a leg over my little mare’s back, and rode again! This was the first time in over 2 years! It felt wonderful to be riding again. Of course, I was terribly sore, and I had only ridden for probably 10 minutes at a walk! My body was not the same after having given birth! I’ve now gotten 17 rides in on Arabee since getting “Back in the Saddle” again, and I feel much more balanced, both riding and walking. I am so glad I’ve started riding again!

Now I am hoping to complete some endurance rides on Arabee in 2009. I’d like to complete two 25 mile Limited Distance rides with her, which means I’ll need to spend a LOT of hours and miles and wet saddle blankets. I figure the more time I spend riding, the closer Arabee will get towards being that safe, trustworthy driving horse I’d love to have. If nothing else, I’ll have a great time making her a safe, trustworthy riding horse, and I think we’re very close to getting there. Still need to do the traffic proofing thing.

Beyond the fact that I get a great deal of enjoyment out of riding, I'm still trying to really look deep and decide whether this is a God-thing or a Nicole-thing. The idea of endurance is so exciting, but the amount of time it will take to do right is tough to reason around. Both my husband and my daughter need my time, it can't be spent two places at once! I guess we'll see what happens - I'll keep riding as often as I get the chance. I’ve decided that as long as my house is clean enough that I won’t be embarrassed if someone drops by, and I have a plan for supper, and my family is happy and healthy, then I’ll have some free time I can spend, and why not spend it in the saddle?

So, there’s the basic equine-related history! Of course, I left a bunch of gory details out, but I figured for a basic history basic is good enough.

1 comment:

Boots and Saddles 4 Mel said...

Wonderful post - I had the exact same questions for God when I decided to start endurance riding. It takes me away a lot of weekends (hard to go to church) and I don't see my family as much (most weekends it's either drive 2.5 hours to see family or get in a conditioning ride). I still struggle with whether what I'm doing is a selfish thing, or a way to live my life passionately, and hopefully as a example and living ministry to the people I ride with......I hope it's the latter, but I find it easy to get caught up in all the other stuff sometimes.