It started quite by accident. Sure, little girls go through a horse phase. I did. When my daughter wanted to pet a horse, we found a horse. She had a simple pony ride about the age of 5. It never crossed our minds she would want to actually RIDE a horse.
And then one day we pulled into the Redmond KOA…
She was 9 years old. A spunky little blonde who had her daddy wrapped completely around her finger. Gabby remembers it clearly. She wanted to pet the horses. So he took her to pet the horses. Another camper told her she could feed them if she had oats. She asked for a quarter and ran to the KOA store where she purchased a small paper bag full of oats. The entire stay, her favorite part of the day was feeding those horses. On our last day she wanted to be sure that the horses in the back of the field were included. She manage to coax them over to the fence. My husband and I looked at each other…
… our daughter was in love.
This began the questioning. Daddy, can I ride a horse? I want to ride a horse. When do I get to ride a horse? Every place we went, there were horses. She’d point them out. "I like that one." she’d say. The girl was clearly undone by these animals.
Montana would bring her dream true. Driving between our camp and home her daddy found a barn. A barn full of horses. Horses that she could ride. On a bright sunny afternoon we drove to the barn. Of course every girl has to have the right riding accessories so we stopped in the store for hats. She was giddy with delight. Then I watched my spunky girl become silent. She walked over to the horse and touched her nose. My daughter was a horse girl. Our lives have never been the same since.
In true Gabby fashion, she remembers the name of her horse: Rebecca. I don’t know how she cannot remember what 9×7 is, but she can remember the name of a horse she rode in 2010. That’s how I know that when she fell in love with horses, it was for life.
We returned home from the trip determined to go full-time on the road. Life had other plans. When it was decided that we had at least 6 months at home, Gabby immediately asked if she could have riding lessons. Knowing absolutely NOTHING about riding, I searched for riding lessons near our house. I sent a few emails and Gabby’s trainer was the first to respond. Her website specifically stated she taught children. She invited us to watch a lesson. Gabby was hooked. We entered the world of Hunter Jumpers with a pony named Rocky. She enjoyed her first show and took home a bouquet of ribbons. Gabby began to ask for her own horse.
Her dream would come in the form of a sweet little mare named Destiny. We leased Destiny for a few months. During this time Gabby and Destiny had a beautiful partnership. The next show we discovered that Destiny wanted to run. Somehow she took off with my daughter running and jumping faster and faster. Gabby stayed calm while trying to talk her into slowing down. Later the judge would comment just how kind she was to the horse. This event would eventually lead us down a path we couldn’t get off.
We took a break from English riding to travel the country at the same time we decided she needed to have Western riding lessons. This lasted until November 2013 when we returned back to the barn she loved and loved her. This was also the beginning of our short adventure with Pony Club. We leased a white (yes, Gabby I know she’s a dapple gray) mare named Phoebe. Phoebe is a solid horse, reliable and perfect for a Pony Club girl.
Phoebe and Gabby were a perfect pair. I figured she’d lease her for quite a long time. Until the day we watched cross country, the third leg of eventing. Gabby and I both were hooked. Phoebe no longer was going to be an option. Gabby’s dream was about to come true.
After a few months of praying, shopping and nail-biting, Gabby now has a horse of her own.
Meet Mr. Splash. A handsome, 16.1 hand, Thoroughbred Gelding. He’s absolutely amazing! And momma is going to learn to ride him too! Hang on for the ride of your life Mister Mister!
When I watch my daughter ride I sometimes silently cry. This girl is going to be an amazing horsewoman. Her trainer is not only a fantastic teacher, she is a mentor, who loves her. As a mom, there is nothing better than watching my child follow her dreams and having people around her that I trust to keep her safe and her dreams alive.
So, a new chapter in our lives begins. We will be training and showing him in the eventing world. Of course, this momma will be thrilled to share the adventures!