A brief reflection on the first ride with my lovely old horse, Buddy.
| Sometimes, I let myself think of my earlier days with Buddy. The first time I rode him was in the middle of dreary February. Seeing an unfamiliar name on the lesson board always gave me a little rush of excitement; Farra, my instructor, rarely let people ride the show horses in lessons. I found him in one of the lower stalls, which meant that he wasn’t ridden often. Horses that aren’t ridden often are fresh; and I loved fresh horses. They are so reckless, and full of unrestrained energy.|
He was a large chestnut, without a single marking. He had obviously had a full-body clip recently - it made him look so handsome. He perked his ears up at me as I pulled his halter over his head. I had to force him to walk and not gallop towards the main barn. I know it might be silly to say so, but I was in love with him from the first time I saw him. It was something about the way he tossed his magnificent head around as he whinnied; maybe it was because he was so aware of every little noise and movement I made. Whatever the reason, I felt that there was something different about him.
I brushed and tacked him up in about ten minutes flat; he was very good for me the entire time. I walked him out to the ring and barely noticed the frigid air; my excitement had blood coursing through my veins and warming me. Farra gave me the usual new-horse talk, telling me that he was a 15 year old thoroughbred gelding, and would be fast for me. I distinctly remember her telling me that he was either going to love or hate me; Buddy was extremely picky when it came to his riders.
I didn’t even worry about that. I had already felt our connection by then - and Farra said he would probably love me, as I was a light rider with a soft hand, which was perfect for him. The moment I got on him and started warming him up, I knew there was something special about him. He was absolutely wild, trying to break into a canter at every chance he got; but I had experience with thoroughbreds, and I knew the best thing to do was to let him trot his heart out, as fast as he could until he was settled.
He finally was at a bearable pace after twenty minutes of warming up. Farra didn’t make me work without stirrups at all that day, which I was overjoyed at. She told me to let him canter, and I did. Oh, he has a lovely canter - a huge, gentle stride, his hooves beating down soft on the ground. I let him speed up more and more, until we were galloping, and Farra didn’t even mind. I looked over and found her to be laughing happily as she watched us. I loved lessons like this; she instructs me more with my horse and how to work with him than on my riding skills and position.
Jumping Buddy was the best feeling I could ever imagine. It was, without a doubt, the most amazing natural high I could get. We only jumped about three foot, but he jumped them like they were much higher. We worked around the courses as one, in tune with each other’s thoughts and knowing what the other would do by the tiniest of signals. He was a fantastic lead changer, almost never landing wrong and correcting it with the slightest prompting when he did.
That was such a happy day. I remember few hours filled with more bliss than those with Buddy, especially that first ride. My parents had asked me once if I would take it back; I told them I would never. He taught me so much, and we soared high up together, only climbing further into the skies. I didn’t think anything could ever bring us down.