Alex and Saphire

Alex and Saphire

By Alexandra Svab

My very first horse is a now 16-year-old, OTTB (Priceless Darlin), chestnut…MARE. Not to mention, she was given the name “Saphire.” Yes, with one “p”. And I kept it. My horse friends would ask, “What’s her name?” I’d tell them “Saphire” and then quickly say, “I didn’t give her that name!” because we all know late and great show jumper, Sapphire. My non-horsey friends would all say, “What a pretty name!”

I was a really green rider when I bought her and she was a girl whose attitude was and still is, “Been there, done that.” Saphire’s definitely a know-it-all and has more than her fair share of mare moments. Over the past couple of years being my only ride, she and I have been through it all. The ups, downs, highs, and the very lows. Sometimes we aren’t even on the same page!

So I’m here to tell the rider of a chestnut mare that it is OKAY to experience these truly special “mare moments.” Like when there’s only one other horse in the arena (minding his own business) and we’re flatting around, and the only thing I can feel is a light breeze and the sound of a “swoosh, swoosh!” from behind me.

Or when we approach a cross rail in warm up only to stop, refuse, and have a nervous break down. Or when we finally get over that cross rail, run after it and act like there’s a sharp object in her mouth…but really, it’s only a snaffle.

Or that mare moment when you try to curry her belly because it’s covered in poop and god only know what else and only to get nipped on the arm. Or try to move to the other side of their body and get slowly (and somewhat intentionally) pushed into the stall wall.  And then when we’re all finished, said mare goes into her stall as fast as she can to dunk her head in her food bucket, demanding I give her hay stretcher (and supplement)…now.

But for all of those mare moments, there are good moments. For me, it was when I was riding in our annual horse show at home, Double ‘A’ Farm. I had just made my very first jump off and was beyond excited. We rode well, but didn’t place. And that’s okay! It was good enough for me and Saphire. I let her know that with a loose rein and a big pat on the neck while we walked out of the arena.

After I put her away in her stall, I made my way back up to the arena to watch my fellow riders and their horses. One of my friends who boards at the barn came up to me and said, “The judge really like you and Saphire! She had a lot to say about you guys. She said, ‘Now that’s a girl who gets her horse. Those two worked in harmony with each other.’”

What a great mare moment; what a rare mare moment!