This past weekend I went with a friend to a local schooling show. A beautiful sunny day, dozens of kids milling about with their horses anxious to earn points for the end of year. One particular team caught my eye – a petite girl, she couldn’t have weighed 75 lbs. and her big bay gelding. They attacked the first 12” oxer at a leisurely trot. As they went through the course, the big bay paused before nearly every jump carefully setting up for success. As they passed by me I could hear the little girl quietly talking to her horse, encouraging him and perhaps finding her own confidence in the process; “its ok, you can do this”, “good boy, you did it”, “we can get over this – good boy – only one more fence”. They made the course without fault then quietly exited the arena. A few steps beyond the gate, the big bay stopped, dropped his head and cocked his back foot restfully while the little girl hugged and praised him.
I wonder if that little girl will always remember this day, remember how carefully her horse took the course and remember how pleased she was with his performance. I know I’ll never forget it.
Our video was viewed over 16,000 times and soon popped up in this rider’s mother’s newsfeed (gotta love the social part of social media). Mom contacted WARHorses and told us more about this dynamic duo. Griffin, 10 at the time, was riding Music an 8-year-old Appendix gelding. The family had only recently bought Music who was very green just learning the ins and outs of jumping. This was only their third show. Their objective for the day was not to win ribbons but to give Music time to think and consider the course ahead. Mom, Kari, was “over the moon proud of them” that day. Curious, we recently reached out to Kari to find out if Griffin and Music are still a team.
“Absolutely!” Kari replied.
In the two years since our post, Griffin and Music continue to grow as a team. In November they achieved their highest score to date winning second place and reserve champion. The reserve honor was awarded by the judge for sportsmanship and horse handling in a class of 12 competitors.
“Griffin and Music are still making me proud with every ride,” said Kari.
Most of us WARHorses – Women of Age – have loved horses all our lives. We cherish our childhood memories, those times we were around horses – stroking a whiskered muzzle, braiding an unruly mane, inhaling horse (the best scent in the world) and wondering why our parents wouldn’t just let us live in the barn. We watch this young rider, her remarkable horse and remember when we embarked on our own equestrian journey.
Years, ok decades later, we are today WARHorses – Women of Age Riding, Driving, Enjoying horses. Our lifetime experiences have helped us become better equestrians – skillful, compassionate, older and wiser. The horses we love give us a remarkable gift – the opportunity to learn something every day until our very last. We will never graduate from horse school, that’s ok, each year we should strive toward improvement.
We WARHorses are well beyond ten years old but we are still much like Griffin and Music. We simply need to give ourselves time to think and consider the course ahead.