As a kid, I was always horse crazy. My room was covered in all things horse, unicorn and pegasus. And I had a best friend who was too. I lived in FL in a bedroom community with lots of old people. There were no farm animals allowed in the city limits.
I think I had been a horse a few times for pony rides at fairs and a couple trail rides out of state. The very first horse I sat on was named Blue.
One year in 5th grade, the parks & rec of my city added horseback riding lessons to their list of offerings. It was after school, once a week for an 8 week session. It was a 40 min bus ride to the facility (which is still around btw). It was very pony-club like and I remember I learned all the parts of tack and how to store them (like bridles). It was english, and I learned to ride a white pony named Jenny. I remember there was a 'performance' day at the end for parents and I'm sure somewhere my mom has pictures of me on Jenny and I think we may have 'jumped' a trot rail.
Thereafter, I had a few other opportunities to ride horses for probably a total of 5 times. So I definitely don't consider myself a re-rider.
Fast forward to my late twenties, the summer of 2002. My husband and 3 kids had just build a house on 5 acres that winter and fenced it for horses. I had a friend of a friend who was a rider help me find a suitable horse. Dreamhorse.com lead me to my very first horse, Solomon and he was only 5 miles away.
Solomon was a 13yo Thoroughbred and had been apparently sitting in a pasture for some time. He was snatched up by a local dressage trainer, got a few miles and was advertised as great for a beginner. And he really was. Totally calm and laid back 99% of the time. It was a great fit. I started learning dressage on him because I figured it was like ballet, a good foundation for whatever direction I went in.
I have no idea how tall he was, I'm not sure I ever measured. He was tattoo'd on his lip so I know he was raced, but it wasn't very legible, so I never found out anymore about him. But he was sweet and friendly and it was hard not to love him right away.
|Woah, I'm not sure you can get a dressage noseband that skinny nowadays.|
I literally have a handful of photos of him. I'm not a big photo gal and even less so before my phone had a camera.
I had Solomon for about a year and had a local dressage trainer come give me lessons at my house once a week. At some point he developed some kind of nerve issue in his neck (or it had been there all along and resurfaced with work) and he would sweat while standing doing nothing. And then I noticed he never laid down anymore, something he enjoyed every day. The local vet recommended a specialized facility 40mins away. I borrowed a friend's trailer (didn't have one) and couldn't load him because he couldn't lift his hindend into the step up. Which would explain why he didn't lay down.
I found another friend who had a lower step on her trailer and with great difficulty and shoving, we got him on it. He was evaluated for a few days and they knew there was something in the neck but didn't know what or why and it obviously affected his hind end. I could have paid for further testing by sending out samples to CA, but the expensive outcome would likely be, undetermined.
Because I live in an area with coyotes and because he couldn't lay down anymore - a thing I know he loved everyday - I decided to put him down. It was over the phone so I never got a last goodbye. They offered to send me his halter, but I said no - kinda regret that now. I did approve for him to be donated for vet school use.
It was hard but I just felt he couldn't be a horse standing still, not really moving. Missing out on the things he enjoyed.
It often doesn't occur to me that my first horse was a beautiful, elegant bay with a hint of a star and soft eyes. And that I owned an OTTB (Off The Track Thoroughbred) - an acronym I had never heard of until just a few years ago.
Always remembered, my friend.