“Horses come into our lives for a reason.” someone said to me not so long ago. There is a lesson to be learnt from every horse that cross our paths, but some teach us more than others and leave deeper hoof prints in our hearts…
Twenty four years ago, I received a phone call asking if I wanted a companion horse for my then riding horse. This one had a particularly heart-breaking story. She was rescued from a state of severe neglect and possible (read probable) abuse. These are the warnings that came with this particular horse: “You will never be able to ride her.” “Don’t take the head collar off because you will never get it on again.” “She kicks.” “She needs to be sedated for the farrier.” “You can’t pick her back feet up.” “She hates men.”
I didn’t particularly need another horse and I am sure my parents didn’t really want another mouth to feed, but the minute I saw this little red-head, I knew I couldn’t leave her. In another blog post, I detail some of our history, but tonight, I am saying goodbye. Yesterday, that beautiful soul left this earth and I can only hope that I did good by her.
In all of the 24 years I had her, I actually only rode her for three or four…And in those few years she taught me more than any other one horse ever did. I had no previous experience with difficult horses and I had very little help (although, I did get help in from experts when I got stuck).
When she first arrives, it takes me 30 minutes or more, every time I want to catch her. When your hand reaches for the head collar she rears up. Hold on to it, and she swings around and gives you a double barrel! (Learnt that one the hard way.) But eventually we can remove the yellow head collar that has been on her head for many months and catch her again.
Less than a year later, I sit on her the first time! And very shortly after that, we attend our first little training show.
In August 1995 we go to the Pretoria Show ( at that stage in my life, this show was a big deal!)
Another year later, we are flying! Sadly, in the next summer she contracts the dreaded African Horse Sickness, but survives. When I go abroad to work for a year, I send her to live with a horsey friend of my mother’s where she contracts some other mysterious illness, but pulls through again! During my years at university I do ride her quietly and she is quiet enough for me to even put friends on her who have no riding experience whatsoever.
By the time I move to the other side of the country (ten years after I first took her on), the farrier can come in on his own and do her feet and my mother (who is terrified of horses!) can groom her. She lives a quiet retired life for the next 14 years but I do always wonder if she misses our glory days the way I do.
In the few years we rode together we had more fun and more memories than I can recall in one blog post. She was a tricky one. She kicked, she reared, she panicked in a big way. I fell off her more than I care to remember. But she will forever remain one of my life-time biggest achievements and the grand mistress of everything I know about training horses. I salute you my Crazy Blaze.