To Love Another

Emma Young is a 17-year-old avid eventer and foxhunter in Ohio. Thanks for sharing, Emma!

Photo by Jenifer Young.

This May will mark two years since I lost my first horse to colic. To this day that was one of the worst days of my life. I had walked him for hours, praying the whole time he was going to be OK, but he was weak and old and had a low chance of making it through surgery … we finally had to make the difficult decision to put him down. I remember whispering to him that I would always remember him and that I could never love a horse as much as I loved him. After a final pat on the neck, I fled the barn with tears pouring down my face.

It took me weeks before I was ready to start thinking about getting another horse. But finally I was ready and one summer day my mom and I finally had the conversation. I admitted that I did want another horse, although I knew no one could replace my first. She asked me if I cared about color, breed or size. I decided right away that my dream horse was a bay gelding standing around 16 hands. However, I didn’t care as long as they liked to jump. With that, we started a horse search that would last for nearly 10 months.

I tried a countless number of horses but none of them were quite right. One was too green, while another could never make it past Beginner Novice. One was too hot, one too old and arthritic, and another just didn’t click with me. Finally, in mid-March of last year, I found my dream horse. He was dark bay. He was 16 hands. He loved to jump. He wasn’t too old or too young and while he had never evented he had done hunter/jumpers. The moment I sat on his back I knew he was my horse. We just clicked.

One year ago today he officially became mine! I couldn’t sleep the night before and forget about breakfast; I was so excited to be getting a horse. When he finally arrived I couldn’t keep a smile off my face. I spent the entire day just admiring my horse.

Photos by James, Jenifer and Ava Young.

Throughout our year together we have become better partners. I know when he is grumpy and I know when he is happy. He knows when I’ve nervous (rather it be about something horsey, a school test, or maybe just a dentist appointment) and he prances and gets nervous too. We both share our joy for jumping and love for cross country. I’ve learned to let him run a little more and he’s learned to let me hold him back just a smidge (… he is an OTTB). We’ve both learned to accept dressage a little more (I think). We even moved up to the fastest group at our last fox hunt.

While I love the big things we’ve done and competition goals we’ve made, it is the small things that have made our partnership blossom the most. It’s the quiet hacks all alone when I can spill my stories and share my worries with him. It’s the times I’ve gone out in the field just to say hi and I end up spending half an hour just gazing at my perfect horse. It’s the gallops that we both sometimes feel like we deserve after a dressage school. It’s the first time I took him through water alone and he trusted me enough to go in. It’s the autumn evenings that I worked on homework while sitting on his back. It’s because when I’m with him I forget anything else even exists.

This first year together has been one of the best years of my life. I haven’t forgotten my first horse (I never will), but I’ve learned to love another and I’m so glad I have.