Originally written for Horse Junkies United last year, and for the spicy mare I’ll never forget.
It’s funny in life that some horses seem to follow us, traveling in the same circles we do. When I was fourteen I took a big step in the riding world, moving onto onto of my trainer’s own hunter/jumper mares. Her name was Mandy, she was a tall, bright red chestnut mare with the fiery attitude to boot. From the first moment I sat on her I was in love. She taught me lead changes, took me over my first three foot jump, and instilled in me the innate ability to hold on tight-and how to let go.
Together we battled through my high school stresses, and a bone chip injury for her. She was the first horse who totally and completely had my heart. Together we spent over two year’s showing, going out on trail rides, and simply growing up together. A boy breaks my heart? Ran to Mandy. I get cut from the swimming team? Ran to Mandy. She was my rock, always there with her big brown eyes, waiting patiently to be scratched in her favorite spot right below her ears, never judging or turning me away.
When it came time for her to find another home, and me another horse, she went to the most amazing family. Even though I cried into her neck holding on to her tight, struggling to say goodbye, I knew it was the right thing for both of us. With her new family, she devoured hunter derby courses, sped around jumper classes as only a chestnut mare can (with ears flat against her head), and loved her new girl. I watched from the other side of Facebook, cheering them both on.
When I returned to my home town after college, and found myself at a new stable, I was shocked one day to see a beautiful, and very familiar face in the stalls. It was Mandy, and I could not believe my luck. I took pictures, cuddled her pretty face, and always made sure to stuff a few extra horse cookies in her stall. Mandy had found her forever home in the family after me, and I loved having her around, watching her sass her way around courses even in her late teens.
That was several years ago now, and Mandy is prepping to make another big trip. She is retiring, and going to be moving from our show based stable to a more relaxed lifestyle. She was (and still is) one of the most opinionated, talented and honest horses I’ve met. There is no other horse that could have brought me to where I am today in both my riding and in life. While our first goodbye had hurt so badly, this one felt strangely right. She deserves all the best a true retirement can offer her. Goodbye pretty mare, you earned it!