A Valentine to my Horse

Photo by One Tulsa Photography.

I started this blog last week (seems to be a trend with me lately) fully intending to finish it quickly because the love story I want to tell should be a very easy one to tell. I love my Sydder, the name my husband affectionately calls my “pony.” Then a horse died. Tragically. At an event. It was not my horse (thank you God!) but I know the owner and the rider, and it was definitely a shock, and it definitely hit home. The thought of losing a greatly cherished animal feels like a punch in the gut with a dagger. Horrible and supremely heart breaking. Thinking about that tragedy made me more determined than ever to write a love letter to my horse of a lifetime.

I first met Sydney when he was a rambunctious yearling doing what yearlings do, frolicking and playing with the other yearlings in the field where he lived. Yet somehow, to me, he was different. I was horse shopping. After leasing and catch riding whatever I could, I finally felt ready to buy a horse. While I searched for a partner that was rideable, ready to go, and within my budget, Sydney (or Syd as he would later come to be known) kept following me around, staying by the fence that was closest to wherever I was, walking back and forth and keeping me within his line of sight. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it was the beginning of a very special connection that would last forever. I remember Diana, the owner of the farm and Syd’s breeder making the comment, “That’s the one you need!” And my reply, “But I can’t RIDE that one. I need something I can ride NOW.” I searched Diana’s farm several times that year for the perfect partner. Each time Syd followed me around. Each time I went home empty trailered, frustrated not to have found my next perfect partner. Looking back now, I had found him, I just didn’t know it yet.

Fast forward three years later to a fateful encounter at a local dressage show. I still didn’t own a horse. What I did own (titanium is expensive!) was a rebuilt arm from a bad riding accident. Even though I had major fear issues and hadn’t sat on a horse in almost a year, I still somehow had the desire to get back on and ride. That desire and one fateful question would change my life forever.

“So, do you still have Sydney?” I asked Diana as she rode towards the warm up ring, not really sure if I really wanted to know.”I do! He’s 4; he’s had 30 days. Better come get him!”

Two weeks later as I drove toward Diana’s farm, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to love Syd or hate him. A part of me knew that unless he had somehow become less than the stunningly beautiful unicorn I remembered, I had found my dream horse. I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I never should have doubted for a minute what an amazing thing it would turn out to be.

As we pulled down the driveway towards Syd’s pasture, he suddenly looked up from grazing, came galloping to the gate and stood, ears pricked, waiting for me. “Well, that settles it. Better go get your trailer and take him home!” A month and a bonus from work later, and take him home was exactly what I did.

Fast forward again, and it’s been almost twelve years and an unbelievable amount of living since that life-changing day. In retrospect, buying a four year old, three-quarter Thoroughbred (the other quarter is Shire) with only thirty days of training was probably not the wisest idea for a scaredy cat adult amateur coming off a major riding accident. In hind sight it is also the best thing I ever did.

Syd is patient; Syd is kind.

Syd takes care of me every. single. time.

Syd is beautiful; Syd is vain. (He is ALWAYS ready for his adoring public and paparazzi.)

Syd always knows when I’m in pain.

He greets me at the gate when I arrive and waits for me to pull away before he heads back into the pasture. (I know that doesn’t rhyme. I’m not THAT good.)

He’s loves his “green” mints but won’t touch a green apple.

He carts my five-year-old son around like Nate is the most valuable king of the world, his tender eyes questioning every footfall.

He is gentle and game and loves his job.

Syd may not be upper level event horse (although he certainly could have been!) Our blue ribbons together may have been few and far between, but he’s my Sydder. My rock. My partner. My trust. We have risen together; we have fallen together. We have tested each other hung in there together.

He’s my Il Sogno (his show name, which is Italian for “The Dream”) He truly is my dream.

Syd is my horse of a lifetime because he is perfect for me. We are perfect for each other.

The day I came to take Syd home, Diana gave me a book called¬†Chosen By a Horse.¬†“Because,” she said, “you were.”

I was.

Happy Valentine’s Day Syd! I am infinitely glad and blessed you chose me!

Go eventing.