Featured photo by Lauren Mueller – Ace (foreground) and Candy (background) graze lazily on the lawn a few months after their arrival.
By Lauren Mueller, Reporter
Last week, I talked to all of you as readers about a horse’s lifespan. I dug through the Internet and talked to vets about how long a horse lives and the factors that influence that life expectancy.
This week, I thought I’d take another risk and tell you all a story because hey, sometimes, we all like to hear stories. It’s how we get to know each other.
If you’ve been with this page from its launch in January, you read my profile and got to know a little bit about how I got to be here, writing to you. What I didn’t tell you in that initial profile, though, was how I ended up with the little herd of horses I have right now.
I have three horses. An American Quarter Horse mare named Sugar, a Miniature Horse mare named Candy, and a Miniature Horse gelding named Ace (for those of you who don’t know, a mare is a girl horse over a year old and a gelding is a fixed male over a year old).
I got Sugar when I was in seventh grade. She was my birthday present. At the time, she was three turning four.
Sugar is a big horse, bright red like a copper penny when the sun hits her right. She’s my challenge.
In life, we all need a challenge. We all need that person—or animal—that pushes us to reach higher, step outside our comfort zone and learn new things. Sugar is that for me.
With Sugar, I have learned how to fly. Not literally, of course. But I have learned how to step out of my comfort zone. And, maybe more importantly, I have learned to fight for what I want.
That’s how I ended up here, talking to you. I’ve learned with Sugar how to chase after what I want. I have learned patience and firmness don’t have to be mutually exclusive. That being strong-willed and fighting for what you believe in isn’t always a flaw. Sometimes, it’s beneficial. If you read my initial profile, I explained all of this to you.
But this is not the story I want to tell you.
I want to tell you the story about how I ended up with two miniature horses when I’m only 21 and have no real use for two dog-sized equines.
In December 2014, I lost the first horse I ever owned. She was 33 years old and the Clovis winter proved too much for her. She passed away peacefully in her sleep, no signs of a struggle or pain.
Sugar went into a downward spiral. She became lifeless, barely nibbling at her food and standing with her head down in a corner for hours without moving. Horses need a herd, and my girl was now a herd of one.
I knew I needed to find a solution. And, as fate would have it, I knew where to start looking. A lady at my church who I knew and had worked with in the past had two miniature horses she was looking to rehome. She and her husband were moving and couldn’t take the minis with them.
I offered them a home on a temporary basis. Candy and Ace came to my barn in January 2015.
Sugar was intrigued by these two horses that looked like they were normal size at one point and then went through the dryer. It took the three of them a couple weeks to get used to each other over the fence. Once they did, it took me a few months before I trusted them to be loose together in the arena. Since the minis didn’t belong to me, I didn’t want them to get hurt.
I guess you could say I was overprotective of them.
By May, I had fallen ears-over-hooves in love with the two half-sized equines. Ace, especially, had become my newest fixation. The little black gelding had quite the big personality. With an afro mane and a disproportionately tiny head, Ace needed an attitude adjustment in a big way.
So I made him my project, and by the time May came around, he’d gone from impossible to catch to coming willingly up to me (albeit with a bit of bribery now and again). It was later that month that the lady I was housing the minis for gave them to me as a gift for graduating from junior college. We have a contract in place that makes them mine, with a few stipulations in place.
I have to finish school and make good grades. And if my situation ever changes and I can’t keep the minis, the first right of refusal goes back to her daughter.
But now I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m telling you this story.
Because I think it has a valuable lesson. I think my minis coming into my life was as far from chance as something could be.
When Ace came up to me willingly for the first time, I felt an indescribable rush of exhilaration and freedom. For the first time, I had gained his trust.
I think it’s the same when we’re trying to find our paths in life. We head out, looking for the thing we really want, and we end up finding the exact opposite, which turns into exactly what we need.
I didn’t set out looking for two mini horses to add to my life. But that’s what I got. And that’s what I needed to teach me patience and persistence.
And that’s why I’m here now, writing True Equestrian, having a conversation on the page with you, my reader, because I was patient and persistent. I didn’t let the system tell me no. Not at school, not in life.
That’s my story for the week. Happy Trails, horse lovers!