Unlike many of you, I had to wait until I was an adult to get my first horse and to take my very first 'real' riding lesson. My Daddy was a Neurosurgeon...a brain surgeon, so do I need to tell you what he thought about horses? He did everything he could to disuade me from my horse obcession...to no avail!
I married young and we bought our first starter home shortly after our wedding. 2 years later, we were in the market again for a house in the country. I hated living in the city! When my Mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday just a year later, I told her fencing! Rolling her eyes at me, she obliged! With that and a small conversion of a tractor garage into a run in shed, we were almost ready for our very first horse.
A friend told me to just spread the word that I was looking for a horse and opportunities would come faster than I could imagine...and she was right. I will just tell you the story that ended in success. Keep in mind, I was looking for a family horse, a pet.. a gentle old soul. A man at work whom I barely knew told me his Father was looking to sell his horse, a Walking horse gelding along with all of the tack and supplies. One visit and I knew this was the one. He was 17hands high and aptly named "The Trojan War Horse". His uniquely colored strawberry roan body made him stand out in a sandy pen with no grass. He was a quiet horse, not overly friendly and he did not walk all over me.
The downside, he was not registered and the owner was asking more than I wanted to pay because he was only willing to sell the horse with all the tack. After some prayer, I felt that sense of real peace and I made arrangements to make payments on Trojan. Funny thing... he was 8 when I first went to see him... but by the time he was paid for, he has suddenly morphed into being 12..in a mere 3 months!
No matter, he fit into our family as if he had always been with us. He was a gentle giant. One of the girls would leave our house on him, only to return with 2 more kids in tow. Trojan did not mind. He would bob his head from the right to the left with each stride, his bright orange mane bouncing from one side to the other. He did not move a muscle, even when a friends young child ran right under him! Many a night, I found the girls had snuck outside, jumped on his back from the fence... no saddle, no bridle .. no matter. Sweet Trojan was always willing.
Trojan lived to be 32 years old and I suppose that is only true if he really was only 12 when I bought him. He cared for my girls through their entire childhoods and we all cried buckets of tears when he had to be put down. Trojan suffered a stroke that left him unable to navigate his huge back end. 5 years prior to that he has suffered and survived a massive heart attack. He lived on that sand lot before we bought him for so long that his teeth were worn down to nothing. He could not even chew hay. We made a warm mash for him twice a day that he licked. He was such a treasure.
Now for a funny story.. many years after Trojan passed, my daughters told me that once, when they were quite young, they rode him when it was very hot outside. They must have run him quite hard because when they returned home, guilt overshadowed their fun when they saw how heavily he was breathing and how much sweat was pouring off of his body. In an attempt to make it up to him, they brought him into the house so he could stand and cool off under the ceiling fan!
This picture (not mine) reminded me of that story: