It had been an interesting year for me and my equestrian endeavors. There were of course many high and lows, coupled with some heartbreak and lots of tears.
For the last year I spent the majority of my time with a goofy, awkward, but quickly becoming Hanoverian gelding named Reggie. He was wild-eyed and handsome, as green as they come, but so kind and so sweet. I was charged with training him to the best of my abilities and getting him around the local show circuits in an effort to sell him for his owner. The “Reggie chapter” of my life had since come to a close, or so I thought, and I struggled to find my next furry, four-legged friend to fuel my horse addiction. It was hard though, finding life after Reggie.
I was weeks into working for my local sheriff’s office mounted patrol program, volunteering my weekends and evening hours caring for the many warmbloods and thoroughbreds that patrolled the malls, beaches, parades and sporting events in my community. I was in love with each and every horse there – most had extensive dressage backgrounds, others were jumpers. I had a whole barn full of horses to keep me busy.
So when I got the call that Reggie, whom I blissfully assumed was fat and happy, off becoming a big time jumper somewhere in Wellington, was in desperate need of a home for a second time, I turned to the deputies at the sheriff’s office.
Most of the horses are donated to the program, believe it or not. As the economy made a turn for the worst, the sheriff’s office was able to adopt many well-bred horses into their program at no cost at all. So many people just couldn’t afford luxury items anymore, which in most cases includes their horses. As for Reggie, they were happy to bring him into the program on a temporary basis, and see if he would be a good fit.
When Reggie arrived, he looked homeless. His thick mane was halfway down his neck. His whiskers protruded more than an inch from his muzzle. He needed a little weight, as his hips protruded from his sides and his back looked thin and hollowed. He didn’t fit the fantasy description I had pictured in my mind and it broke my heart. Reggie has always been a handful, but he is an extremely loveable gelding. I just wanted him to have a home that would give him the consistency and confidence he needed as a youngster. Maybe the sheriff’s office would give him that.
Reggie had 90 days to prove himself as a deputy. I worked with him almost daily, bringing him back into shape with the basics in the dressage ring. Eventually he graduated to the obstacle course, pushing barrels around the arena, going over bridges and hopping over the course of cross country fences in the back field. I was proud of him – the little guy was making good strides in such a short period of time.
But he didn’t perform the same underneath the trainer deputies. Instead, Reggie was abrasive and unwilling to move forward. He was nervous about new people on his back and the worry was easily seen in his eye. In the end, he was deemed too unpredictable to be a sheriff’s mount.
I was so torn. Here I was, for the third time in the two years I’d known this horse, at a crossroads where I could step in and become his owner. I loved him very much, and tried time and time again to find him a good home. I so desperately wanted a horse of my own, even though I knew I realistically couldn’t afford it at the time. Especially Reggie – this guy needed to be in a regimented training program with a professional, an added cost I just could not take on at this point in my life.
I cried when I watched Reggie leave again. I spent a week calling every horsey friend I had, looking for someone who could give him a good home. Eventually I found one. The hunter/jumper trainer I grew up riding with, the one that introduced me to the first horse I ever owned, had found a good place for him with one of her students. He would be brought along slowly and correctly, under my trainer’s watchful eye. He would have a a brave teenage girl who would love him and spoil him. He would be less than an hour up the road, where I could visit him and watch him grow into the horse I always knew he could be.
I watched the girl who would become Reggie’s new owner rider him around the arena for the first time at the sheriff’s office. I watched her smile as they figured each other out. I watched him settle and relax, breathing a big sigh of relief, with her in the saddle. And when Reggie left the sheriff’s office, I wasn’t sad anymore. I was happy and hopeful that I had done something good for this horse. That I found him the home he needed and he deserved, after all.