In some ways, Westie’s injury was actually a blessing in disguise. Prior to his injury, I would only see him 1-2 times a week as he was 45 minutes away and I was extremely busy at work.
However, during his recovery I was at the barn 2-3 times a day. My bank account sure didn’t appreciate the vet bills and my brand new car was racking up the kilometers, but it was this time together that made me realize what a neat horse he really was.
Although when I bought him he had very little personality, all the time we got to spend together during his recovery changed that.
He would nicker when I walked in the barn, stand stoically while I changed his bandage or washed his cuts, and thoroughly enjoyed his hand grazes. He even learned to love carrots and apples, but I have yet to convince him that mints really are the ideal treat.
About six weeks after his injury, I moved Westie to a local barn with better riding facilities. As he was sound from his pasture incident from day one, I started hacking him shortly after the move.
He spent the entire summer and fall as a 3 year-old hacking around the fields, up the one hill on the property and up and down the road. He quickly became the horse who would hack out with the spooky or unreliable horses as he was the best babysitter ever.
That fall Westie started into real work. Throughout the winter we spent our rides practicing our flat work in the arena, learning to jump and of course hacking out in the snow when the footing was safe. By spring we were ready to go to our very first horse show.
We went to a local schooling show and entered the cross-rails and 2ft classes. This was definitely more for me than him – I’m not sure when I became such a chicken over fences but I have. Of course, Westie behaved perfectly at this show. He acted just like he did at home.
A couple months later, he went to his first Radical Jumper show (hosted by the Ottawa Valley Hunt) and again, was absolutely perfect. Of course, my tendency to trot fences kept us out of the ribbons (as scoring is based on closest to optimum time), but we had no jump penalties in 2 rounds so I was thrilled.
These were the only two horse shows I was able to afford to do on Westie as unfortunately the cost of keeping a horse kept going up and my salary was not going up near as quickly.
In November 2010, I made the difficult decision to sell him. Rather than advertise him, I called a couple local contacts and had several people lined up to see him that week.
I told the barn owner I had decided to sell him and had people coming to see him and she bought him on the spot. It was very bittersweet, as I packed up my locker and said goodbye to him that day.
Although to many the decision to sell him appeared to have been made almost as quickly as the decision to buy him was, this was definitely not the case.
I went back and forth in my head about it for months; the responsible part of me knew I couldn’t afford him any longer, while my heart knew he’d never be replaced.