By Sarah Wryk
Hello fellow Horse Junkies! With the semi-retirement of my beloved hunter pony, Pippin (yes, I’m an adult and yes, I ride ponies, nay, LOVE to ride those little stinkpots!) I was kicking my boots in the dirt looking for a new project to play with. A dear friend of mine had to unexpectedly move out of state for new work opportunities and was left with the tough decision on what to do with her three horses. There just was not enough time to coordinate moving herself and her horses in less than a month, so she made the tough decision to sell her young prospect and found a local rescue to place her geriatric mare. That left her hugely opinionated hippo of a grey mare that she just absolutely adored.
She was at a loss on what to do with her horse so I offered to free lease her while she settled into her new digs, so that she wouldn’t have to worry about moving and/or selling her. To say this mare and I did not see eye to eye is an understatement, but desperate times call for desperate measures when you are a horseless equestrian!
I am a hunter/jumper rider hoping to dabble in eventing in the near future. I’m usually the one on the talented youngsters putting miles on them at horse shows or teaching them that each leg does NOT leave the ground at a different time whilst flinging themselves over fences. Call me weird but I love the challenge. Enter the grey dragon, already closing in on 10 yrs of life and absolutely fairly set in her ways.
Affectionately earning the label #maredrama on social media sites, our partnership that has turned into one of the most fun learning experiences I have had in a while. #Maredrama is sensitive. I’m a strong rider, often slapped on the ponies that need a little more oomph to make go. No so much the case with this horse. I had to learn how to “think” go rather than ask for it. She could not figure out how to jump if her life depended on it. What was a woeful hunter/jumper rider to do with a horse that couldn’t jump and was a big as a hippo? Duh, whip her into shape and complete many trot pole exercises and grids! We both went into boot camp, worked our asses off, and finally figured out how to get from one side of jump to the other.
Fast-forward to our first little schooling show on Halloween. After a questionable warm up round of knocking down two fences, #Maredrama zoomed around the hunter ring, clearing everything with speed and precision making me reconsider her talents for the jumper ring. We pinned in equitation but I was most proud that she kept her head in the ring and didn’t lose her mind completely. Appropriately, I showed her under the name Regina George. If you don’t get the reference, rent the movie Mean Girls immediately, pour a big glass of wine, and enjoy. You’ll understand exactly the type of horse I’m working with.
To end the year on a bang, I was itching to sign up for a local hunter pace. #Maredrama was going BEAUTIFULLY: brave over fences, gallop sets in the field were her favorite, and she was sound as could be. I gathered a few friends and sent in our entries and a week later after some trailer loading drama just because she could, #maredrama was on her way to her first hunter pace!
With MUCH gusto, we crossed the start line and made our way to the first set of single logs on the trail. #Maredrama snorted, reared, and tip toed around those frightening things until we watched our friends walk over them. Life became slightly more coherent after that. We trotted, galloped, and FLEW over big coops and roll tops (mare loves a good wall-type jump) and ultimately had the time of our lives. We got lost, had near run in with a red tailed hawk, and came in way past the optimum time, but loved every second of it.
I never thought (nor did anyone who knows this horse) that the opinionated white hippo would turn out to be a suave jumper/hunt/eventing prospect. Time to renew the lease agreement and strive for new and exciting things in 2016!