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Monday, December 26, 2011

A time for goodbyes...

Forrest back at Farmstead
and checking out his new
neighbor, a Hanoverian
stallion named "Raf."
A month from today will be exactly one year since the first time I climbed onto Forrest's back in the tiny indoor at Farmstead and had one of the most magical rides of my life. I thought that by now, Forrest and I would (at least) be going in the direction of  establishing our career together as a formidable 3-day eventing team--if not already be well on our way. I thought that I'd have done a handful of clinics on him, maybe even a combined test or two, and be ready to spend our winter in Ocala doing the winter Area III events and gearing up for the season.

None of that happened.

I was reminded a few days ago by one of my friends that if you want to make God laugh, you should tell Him your plans. In this past year, I've learned that nothing else is more true. Of course, I should have learned this lesson long ago. I've made plenty of "big plans," only to have something completely unexpected happen: I was going to do a one-star on my Irish horse, Stormy, by the age of 16. When he suffered an injury and was out for that season, my new goal was to take a friend's horse, known as Ollie (another "redhead" that I've mentioned in a previous entry) to his first prelim, but instead he was sold before we got the chance. I thought that my former best friend, Sarah, and I would stay close our entire lives, but I haven't spoken a single word to her in almost four years.

"Fat Forrest"
Forrest was another one of those "big plans" that just didn't work out. Instead of continuing his career as an eventer with me, Forrest went back home to Farmstead to be sold to make room for more broodmares. It was heartbreaking to leave Forrest. I gave him one last hug and a kiss on his neck, and then said my final goodbyes. On the way home from dropping Forrest off back at Ken's, my mom and I stopped to buy some decorations for our barn Christmas party, and at the store she bought me a Pillow Pet horse who was--ironically--chestnut with a white star on his forehead. He was just like Forrest, except perhaps a little more round. I immediately named him "Fat Forrest" and he sits beside me now, acting as my muse as I write this difficult post.

My New Years resolution for 2012 is to have a little more faith, and not make any "big plans." My mother getting stepped on by Forrest and spending my entire summer caring for her was not part of the "big plan." My old event horse, Stormy, coming out of retirement at the age of fourteen and going better than ever was not part of the "big plan." And neither was a dark bay weanling named Padraig who is now vacating Forrest's old stall, and he is the best thing that has happened to me all year--planned or otherwise. I still miss Forrest every day, but I'm sure that everything is going to work out just fine.

Padraig is not the only silver lining to Forrest's departure. I also must say that I feel extremely proud of myself for what I did manage to accomplish in my time with Forrest... He went from being spooky and herd sour to hacking out alone and (mostly) behaving himself. He learned to stand tied instead of rearing up, flipping over and running away. Instead of spooking at even the sight of water in the distance, he will now not only walk through water but stand in it quietly. He also is a perfect gentleman loading and travelling in the trailer. Not to mention the leaps and bounds in his training under saddle, especially in the dressage phase.

I plan to start a new blog about Padraig very soon, and I will add the link to that to this blog. Thank you to everyone who has followed this blog, and I wish you all a Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Good News and Bad News

Forrest enjoying "brunch" in
his paddock, with his friends,
Hercules and Stormy.
I might as well start with the bad news: Forrest will be leaving me within the next week.

Ken was out at the farm this past Monday, and while he was giving injections he informed me that Forrest is on the market. As in, for sale. While I have to say I always thought that this day might come, it is still a little bit of a shock. I guess it's like that quote from the movie, Forrest Gump.

"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

Forrest and Hercules...
A typical afternoon in the
paddock at River Bend.
It has been a rocky, unpredictable road that Forrest and I have been down in our relatively short time together, and I would be lying if I said that we'd accomplished all that I'd hoped by now. I could not control what happened to my mother this summer. I also found out some interesting things about Forrest's past experiences both at the track and with another rider that I was unaware of prior to bringing him home. Honestly, I feel like Forrest is a super talented horse with infinite abilities as an athlete, but I think that maybe he is not as mentally stable as I'd originally thought. Having said that, Forrest has come along in leaps and bounds since I first began riding him last January. He now loads into trailers, stands for the farrier and has overcome his fear of water. I also taught him to shake his head "yes" when you ask him if he's hungry, and now he shakes his head "yes" tall the time! He has also learned to be a horse, with the help of the best teacher I know--my black Thoroughbred gelding ( also an ex-racehorse), Hercules.

I love Forrest with all my heart. He will always be one of my all-time favorite horses in the world. The bond I have with him is a special one, and I can't compare it to one that I have with any other horse in the world. He means everything to me, and I am heartbroken. Taking him back to Farmstead for Ken to sell will be devastating.

Forrest is always the first to pop
his head out and say "good morning."

There is a silver lining to this relatively short and depressing post... I am buying a new horse!

Last weekend, my mom, my sister Elizabeth, and my dog Remy all hopped in the car and drove to New York to meet a Connemara/TB weanling named Padraig, who (pending a pre-purchase exam) will be the star of an all-new blogging experience. Stay tuned.

I will probably have a final update after taking Forrest home, and after that I am uncertain about the future of this blog. Maybe Forrest will sell to someone I know and I can continue to give regular updates about the goings on in his life, or that will be the end. Either way, it's been a fun ride.

Happy trails.