He came to me at one of the lowest times of my life. I had just broken off an engagement, was working at a horrible job, and while losing all hope, I decided to go shopping for a horse.
“Young lady this is a fine young horse,” he tipped his withered cowboy hat at me and spit into the ground, “he just needs a few calories.”
He had just pulled out of the barn a sorry horse with bones that jutted out, and it was easy to count all of his ribs. The horse looked frail, it was as if he could break.
“Go ahead, climb on his back. He is a good ridin’ horse. I even have papers on him, out of the Native Dancer line,” he handed me the cracked and hardened leather reins.
Tenderly, I pulled up the girth, and gently placed the reins over the poor horse’s neck. He stood patiently while I mounted. His walk was fluid and free moving, his trot floated, and his canter was rhythmic and very balanced.
“Well, what do you think?” the horse dealer rocked back on his heels while plucking his hands deep into his pockets.
“I like him, how much are you asking?” I said. The horse was almost leaning against me for support.
“I’ll take $2500, he is worth every cent,” and he tipped his hat forward creating a shadow across his face.
I hesitated. I was a high school teacher and I barely had twenty-five dollars to my name. My instructor grabbed my collar and pulled me close so that she could whisper something in my ear. “Take it! He is worth it!” she said barely containing her excitement.
My hesitation and pained expression on my face lead him to impulsively drop the price. “Ok, bottom dollar, $1500 for you. I know you will give him a good home, and the good Lord knows he needs one,” he patted the red bay that was now leaning against me and breathing into my neck.
“I’m not saying he is not worth the money you are asking, but I do not know if I can swing $1500 right now,” I could feel my throat tighten with emotion. I had done nothing but dream and hope for a horse my whole life, and it was within reach and yet so far away.
“Missy, don’t give me anything! You have three months to try him out, and if you do not like him, bring him back. Just give me $500 every month if you like him,” he winked at me and stuck his hand out.
I grabbed his hand with both of mine. I could not believe that this man was going to give me a gift of a life time.
“His name is Raise Your Dreams. I will drop him off at your trainer’s home tonight. Is that ok?”
That day changed my life. I became the proud owner of a horse that has carried me proudly to numerous shows, Dressage tests, cross-country jumping, fox hunting, trail rides, paper chases, and countless clinics. It was at a clinic that I was approached by a show woman and she asked me if “Dreams” was for sale. She said she would give me ten thousand dollars that night. I told her that dreams would never be for sale.
Today I have owned countless horses and ponies, but none will ever measure up to the horse that transformed my life from sheer hopelessness to hopefulness. He gave me a reason to live, and I think I gave him a reason to live too.
I remember riding with an Olympic coach who was vehemently insisting that I buy a Dutch Warmblood in Europe because “dis horse, no good!” While riding in one of his lessons he asked me to collect my horse and go into a pirouette. It felt as if I were floating, and each footfall was so precise and accurate, that my instructor cried out.
“Jill! Dis horse is fabulous! He have no ability, but because he loves you, he does it!” He shouted at me.
That day, I won the world’s greatest test. My horse had no ability to do what was being asked, but because he loved me, he would do whatever was asked.
Have you ever been chosen by a horse? Tell me!