Giving Back to the Horses Who Give Us the Sport

We announced the finalists in the 7th Annual EN Blogger Contest, and now we are bringing you their first round submissions. Leave your feedback in the comments, and please offer your encouragement and support to the finalists! We hope you enjoy their creativity, insight and love of the sport.

Amy Nelson and Ruby Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Amy Nelson.

She doesn’t halter well and has poor manners when leading because she’s scared. She’s head shy. She doesn’t pick up her feet. She doesn’t do well being bridled. She gets very scared in a trailer. She is 7 and has only been ridden four times. She can’t be fly-sprayed or bathed. She was neglected and came in 200 pounds underweight, but we have the weight under control! Would you have room to foster her, and help find her a career, and a new home?

I’ve helped out Crosswinds Equine Rescue in Sidell, Illinois, on and off for the past 10 years. Before I had my own place, I volunteered as a trainer at their farm by training and riding some of their rescues. One of my favorites was a bay Thoroughbred. Now, a decade later, I have found another way to give back to the animals I love so dearly.

I had two open stalls, so I agreed to take on two of their horses. Many of their volunteers at Crosswinds are excellent with grooming, feeding and other tasks, but lately some of the rescue horses have needed extra work when it comes to riding. They needed a professional trainer to ensure the horse found a job and a perfect forever home.

Conquering the world … one trot pole at a time.

Over the winter we fostered a cute 3-year-old Mustang mare named Tayah. She was an adorable grey that looked like a miniature Andalusian and quickly took to hunters. She had a rocking horse canter, was a total “push ride,” and would never hurt a fly. She was scooped up by a family with a young mom who rode, and the kids adore her.

Now we have a 3-year-old Tennessee walker filly named Amaretto who is learning the ropes of gaited western riding. She is a lovely mover with a quirky personality, and typical of her age, the attention span of a gnat. She was an orphan, so in my downtime in the evenings I groom her and allow her to lick my arm.

But the biggest challenge has been Ruby Tuesday. This 16.1-hand Hanoverian mare came in to us essentially knowing nothing — a 2-year-year old in a 7-year-old’s body. In her short life, she had been starved, neglected, abused and then finally seized by the ASPCA in North Carolina. No wonder she hated everything!

One day at our farm, she nearly lost her mind when the wind blew the barn door closed near her stall. This is going to be an eventer? I thought to myself. The first few days I spent every spare minute sitting in a chair in front of her stall. I ate my lunch there. I talked to her as I cleaned stalls. My working student would sneak in and brush her while I was teaching. My husband would steal kisses from her nose.

In a short time, Ruby has made an amazing turnaround. She is starting to come out of her shell and learn new skills. As it turns out, she is a lovely mover! She has trot to die for in the dressage ring, and even shows a desire to be an eventer as she jumped over an 18” pile of logs with me on a lead line. (Look out, Kentucky!)

She has months of foster training ahead of her, but I’m thrilled to be a part of her journey. If you have a spare stall, a spare hour, a spare dollar, I encourage you to give back to the animals who give us the sport of eventing. Because at the end of the day, I’m finding it’s not the clear rounds that give me the greatest joy. It’s a ground pole I walked over on a rescue horse, who now believes she can conquer the world.

About the Author: Amy Nelson has been riding hunter/jumpers and eventers for 25 years and is based in Rochester, Illinois.  She retrains OTTBs, problem horses and eventers at her Hummingbird Stables. She has competed in the RRP Thoroughbred Makeover and hopes to compete at the one-star level this year. Check out more of her “Eventing Shorts” on EN’s Blogger’s Row