By: Stacy Bromley Cheetham, MPA

We all come to our equine partners differently – some of the luckier professionals have multiple horses and get to have a different dance partner virtually every hour of the day. For me, as a full-time “employed otherwise to make money” and “evenings and weekends-only professional rider,” I have the pleasure of working with one horse at a time. Currently, that horse is a pretty special little OTTB mare named Hannah. However, as with many horse stories, our journey together has been anything but smooth, and we are definitely not where I thought we would be by now!

Hannah and I met online, and it was love at first sight (for me.) Once I saw the trot video, it was all over. The mare can MOVE! One cold morning in February, she arrived in NC as a scrawny 4-year-old. I was so excited! We would start right away! New tack – a work plan – groundwork – do all the things! Well…best laid plans being what they are, she promptly got hives. Then, she lost all her hair.

So, my super-stressed horse spent the entire summer eating grass in a field, growing hair and gaining weight. Fast-forward through a new job (for me) and a busy philanthropic season (the Jump for the Children Horse Show benefiting Duke Children’s Hospital, for which I chair the Silent Auction,) and we were already into early 2016. How on earth did I lose an ENTIRE YEAR?! Unscheduled detours, as it were.

March arrived, and with it the abscess from Hades. Add thin soles, a hospital plate post-surgery to heal the abscess, and a broken foot for me (courtesy of The Mare) and three months later, I found myself into summer. Hannah was out of shape, I was out of shape, and I was coming into conference season for my full-time job. So, what does a rider do when she has a nice horse and no time? Well, she finally gets smart and finds a half-lease!

So here we are, ladies and gentlemen, over a year later and nowhere near where I thought we would be. We are certainly not doing the 3’ hunters or jumpers; heck, we are barely started back over fences! However, I have a willing partner who is lovely under saddle, and we are working on getting fit together. We have a stronger partnership than we have ever had, and I can definitely attribute that to the three months of stall rest and daily hoof treatments and bonding that occurred during that time. Unscheduled detours, as frustrating as they have been, have ultimately helped me out and I am excited to see where we go from here.