Monday, November 17, 2014

SFTS Blog Hop- The Horse that Made Me

I've always wanted to participate in a blog hop and just haven't gotten around to it. So here goes- this one sounded fun and who doesn't like to talk about their horses???? Thanks to Stories from the Saddle for this Blog Hop!

I've been blessed with a lot of great horses in my life that have shaped my riding and made me who I am today as a rider. Every horse/pony from Joker to my current guys, Chimi and Marley, have had an influence in propelling me forward in my horsemanship, riding ability, and love of all things horse. But the horse that stands out as the most influential is Johnny, hooves down.

Johnny at Up and Over

I was 14 when Johnny and I started our relationship. I remember it was the summer of 1999- he was a green 5 year old and I was ready to step up to a horse that could take me to my upper level Pony Club ratings and one that I could learn, train and compete on. Even though he had been in training for just about a year, his personality was such that we could learn together and he would forgive me for my mistakes and I could learn from his.

Johnny at FENCE- Fall 1999

Johnny and I had a short show career together all considering, but in those 2 years I learned so much and my riding really took off. Our first season of Eventing was Fall 1999 and our last event was at Farewell- Fall of 2001. It was almost fitting that out last event was called Farewell! Between those events we went from bumbling our way around a BN course, to qualifying for Pony Club Nationals in Show Jumping (2000) and Combined Training (Training- 2001), achieving my C-3 rating, and moving up to Training level. We were looking at Prelim when everything started to fall apart.

Last show at Farewell- 2001

 The story of Johnny is long- and if you're interested you can read it here. Eventually a pinched spinal cord prevented Johnny from continuing on and now he is happily retired. He has a girlfriend named Ellie and the two are like peas in a pod. He's probably been a pasture ornament longer than he was under saddle but he deserves to enjoy his retirement. 

Johnny and Gus snoozing

Johnny and his lady friend Ellie

When it comes to my development as a rider, Johnny gave me the confidence I needed at that point in my riding. I went from being scared to jump 2'9" to jumping 3'6" courses. I went from thinking I was going fast at BN and coming in with slow penalties to getting speed faults at Training level. I learned what success felt like and I learned what defeat felt like. And I learned how to pick up the pieces and move forward. Cheers to Johnny for making me the rider I am today!

BN at Hopeland

Dressage warm-up at CT Rally- FENCE 2001

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