I’m very happy to report that, after months of being horseless due to my mare’s passing and our loss of the kid’s lease, through the kindness of friends we were able to find a new barn and a new trainer. The kids wanted to stick with the hunter/jumper discipline, and this trainer is one that I’d been aware of for years as a very equitation-focused trainer. I’d been under the impression he only coached really serious juniors looking to do the big eq, so I’d never thought to approach him in the past. In any case, a friend who’d trained with him as a junior and knew we were looking introduced us. The kids and I took a couple of lessons with him, really enjoyed them, and lo and behold, found ourselves with a new trainer and a barn to call home.
Our new trainer knew our story and that we were homeless and horseless. He told us he felt that we needed to take our time and really look around to find the perfect horses, and not feel pressured to buy the first thing we see. He had a horse that had been taking a vacation from the big eq and jumper rings, and he thought that teaching the kids would be a good way to give this horse a new, relatively stress-free job and get the kids back in the saddle at the same time. So the kids took a couple of lessons on the horse, Tiki. He seemed to like them, they liked him, so now we’ve got one problem solved for the time being. They still miss James, but getting to know Tiki has been therapeutic for them.
Tiki is a jewel. An absolute jewel. He’s got all the “buttons”, so the kids have an opportunity to learn from a horse that really knows his stuff. Quite honestly, we’re extremely lucky, as he’s a way more accomplished horse than I’d ever thought my kids would be on – talk about being in the right place at the right time! Sadly he’s short-term solution, as Noah is so tall that he’s practically too big for Tiki already, but for the next few months the kids are getting to ride an equine master.
Tiki is also ridiculously smart, incredibly inquisitive, and loves to be very engaged with his people. This big boy has personality to spare, and man, does he have presence. When he walks into a ring, you know it! I love watching the kids on him – he goes around the ring with his ears pricked all the time. When he canters, he looks like he could be a medieval knight’s battle charger – you can picture him with all the armor and everything, cantering majestically off to defend the kingdom.
He does what I call his “Paparazzi Pose,” where something catches his eye and he brings himself to his full height, head high and ears fully forward. You can almost hear him saying, “How’s this angle? Are you getting me from my good side?” He has a hatred for arborvitae, possibly a relic from his equitation days, and eyes them with deep suspicion. He is keenly observant, and knows where everything in the barn or ring should be. If you so much as move one of the mums decorating the jumps, he knows it, and you can tell he’s wondering why no one sent him a memo alerting him to the change.
Tiki is also gray, which has been an education in and of itself. We’ve never had a gray before, and are finding that everything said about keeping them clean is no exaggeration. Especially as Tiki seems to make it his mission to roll in every pile of poop he comes across. I am buying Cowboy Magic Greenspot remover by the gallon. And the hair! I know that we came home covered in horse hair after a trip to the barn, but it was brown, and not very noticeable. Spending any time around a gray means you come home looking like a dandelion that has gone to seed, and that gray hair gets on everything!
So while things are getting back on track for the kids, they are not quite there yet with me. I thought I’d found a horse, but right before he was scheduled to be vetted the owner decided not to sell. I’m really disappointed, as I liked him a lot and was really excited to learn from him and give him a good home. He was another one with personality to spare, with a great attitude. He went around the ring with ears pricked, ready to do whatever you asked of him. “You want to trot? Super, let’s trot. Oh, you’d like to canter? Off we go! You want me to jump from underneath the fence? Sure. You ‘d like to leave out a stride and a half? Okay, hang on!” He was also fun on the ground, kind of like an impish 6 year old boy that noodges you for constant attention, the kind you can’t resist because they are so gosh-darn cute. I’m really bummed it didn’t work out, but we all know that’s they way of things sometimes.
As much as I’m happy for the kids and love being around horses again, I do have to confess it’s been a bit rough emotionally. It’s odd, as I so love watching the kids on Tiki, and really enjoy seeing how they are enjoying their lessons, and I love grooming him and kissing on him. I’m happy for the kids, but at the same time it’s hard to be in a barn and not see Sug’s face waiting for me. It’s weird not to be saddling her up for my own lesson. It’s funny in a way. I’ll be driving the kids to a lesson and I’ll be looking forward to it, and then suddenly I’m blinking back tears. Someone who I respect greatly told me it took her about a year before she could think of her beloved boy without getting choked up, so I’m using this as a benchmark.
So there we are. Getting back in the groove. Moving in the right direction, one baby step at a time.
Thanks for reading,