A Girl's First Horse
By Sarah S.
Dedicated to the most amazing horse alive

As I walked into the pasture, I saw my trainer April helping a new student who would be in my lesson today. I gently tugged on my dad’s hand. It was an exciting day; he was there to watch me do a couple courses of pole bending on Lacy. As I was walking over to my first “greenie” horse, a beautiful black horse walked up to me. She dropped her face, and took in my smell, and she gently nudged me. I laughed, and rubbed her gently. Then, patting her neck, I called to April “Hey, what is this horse’s name?” She came over and smiled saying, “Oh, that’s Lightning… you can ride her, but she’ll be a huge challenge.” She proceeded telling me that Lightning was also a “greenie” and was still in training. I excitedly said I wanted to ride her, and I readjusted her halter as I put on her.

That was the start of our saga. My barn friends: Kendall, Chelsea, and Hannah all laughed at all of our silly adventures. From HAVING to jump that patch of roots on trail, to her splashing me with water in her trough she always made me happy. I remember the tougher of times too though. For example, after the first week of riding her, she started throwing little fits and refusing to trot. One week I pretended to be sick, so I wouldn’t have to go ride her…I was afraid of this powerful creature. The week after that, I slowly walked up to her, and then I stopped at a distance. Normally she would try to play games with me, and she would trot away, nicker, and then finally trot up to me. My bond with her was secured that day. I looked into her playful eyes, and then she walked up to me and nuzzled my shoulder. With that, I knew I wouldn’t ever give up on her. Not EVER. This was one of life’s lessons about commitment.

Two months later, we led our first trail. I felt her quiver as soon as we got out of the first section of the woods and thought “Oh boy, am I in for it or what?” Well, many could say that this trail was horrible, considering she spooked about ten times. But I had never been so proud, mainly because she had not tried to throw me once. Light got her favorite treats that sunny day.

For the next couple of months, I schooled her in the ring and on the trails. She was almost perfect on both. Every once in a while, in the ring, she would joyfully TRY to jump a cone. I started training her in pole bending to better define her bending skills. She has a fast, beautiful trot, and I was progressing in teaching her how to do trail work and calming her on trail.

One of the last trails I took her on was easily one of the hardest times of my life. The trail was horrible! All of the horses were acting up that day, and she was prancing and throwing her head the whole way on the path to the field where she got turned out into during the summer. She hadn’t been like this since our first trail! I managed to maintain control, as I looked at the group of 16 horses and riders. I groaned softly thinking of how almost everyone but me, April, Chelsea, and a few other riders were capable of helping out. I kept control of my own section, five people, and tried to make them see that I was okay, not fighting my horse constantly. As we approached a trot stretch her muscles bunched and before I knew it, she was in a fit of little bucks and rears. Luckily for me, I didn’t throw my feet back, a bad habit of mine. I kept control, but I was on the verge of crying. She bucked several more times out of what I thought was hatred of me. After we got back from the trail, and I had helped people off, I went to her. As I slowly untacked her and gave her a couple of carrots and led her back in her field, I saw one of my best barn friends. “Kendall,” I thought. I went up to her and told her all about my struggle. She nodded and listened, and I tried not to cry. I didn’t, well, until I was in the field getting another horse out. “What have I done?” I thought sadly, letting the tears flow out.

Two weeks later, I was back on trail. Lightning was perfect again, well… perfect except for those couple of “fun” bucks right after a jump. I was smiling my head off as we were leading this trail too. It turns out my trainer told me that Lightning had just had an off day. I remained close to Lightning, and loved riding her, and my commitment deepened.

The time that I felt my bond with Lightning shaken the most was when she rolled into the fence and became stuck. I had just turned this beautiful horse out and had turned around to watch her do what she always did, run up to her friend Savanah. Only she went to roll. My friend Chelsea had been there with me at that time…and as I saw her go into it, I screamed at her to go get April. I remember her shocked face and how I screamed at her to HURRY! I was so afraid of seeing my special friend die, and I was overcome with fear. I saw her start to thrash, and then I ran to her with tears streaming down my face. I threw myself down by her… first trying to pull her out, but I noticed she was stuck. I simply stroked her, calming her down to a trance-like form. After we managed to get her out, I remember feeling shocked, giving up on riding the rest of that day. However, I will always remember that look she gave me, the look of fear… the look of knowing that everything would be fine. To this day I wonder what could have happened, and if I could have stopped it from happening at all. For a couple of weeks, I blamed the whole incident on myself.

Lightning and I started trusting each other more and more, until I felt an unshakable bond forming. Miss Light started trotting up to me when I went to get her, and often even nuzzled me after haltering her. One day, when April was late, I simply sat on a hay bale in her field and studied her. That whole time, I noticed she kept an eye on me to, making sure none of the horses approached me. A couple of weeks later, I got up some courage and announced that I wanted to try cantering in the ring on Lightning again. Even though we were both rocky when we started out, she was amazing! We got in about five laps of cantering that day. We further progressed the next week to quite a bit…even winning the obstacle course!

Another rough day was upon Light and me though…one that is dreaded by many riders. Misses Lightning decided to act up one day. The wind whipped around a couple of my friends, our horses, and me. We had just finished the obstacle course again…Lightning and me taking first place yet again! Then, I got ready to go into a canter. So we got a couple of laps, but she was REALLY acting up! Then, some of the dirt was whipped up into our faces right when I was starting to push her into a canter. Lightning quickly spooked, while bucking several times. During one of her bucks, she twisted around in such a way that I went flying. Trying not to cry, I looked up at her. She studied me, touched my hand with her muzzle, snorted seeing I was okay, and walked off to graze. I got back on her, like any good rider, and we carried out a fast trot.

I know there will be tough times ahead with Lightning, but there will also be great ones. Like I can only dream about long summer trail rides…and hectic shows. My parents bought me Light now…to me that is the ultimate gift…but it seems to strengthen our relationship. For now and to the future, Light has captured my heart…something I can be forever grateful for.


 

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