Saturday, March 23, 2013

My Freckles R Black AKA"Belle"

Where do i even start with this story? I've had Belle 7 years now, i guess i should start at the very beginning.

I remember ALWAYS telling my mom that i wanted a solid black TWH.... but after looking around and thinking that over, i changed my mind to a solid black QH. My mom told me the likelihood of finding a solid black QH that fulfilled all of our other requirements were slim to none. I told my mom i did not care how long i had to wait, i would be patient. And i wasn't 100% set on the colour, the personality and conformation and breeding was much more important to me then coat colour. I began looking in every horsetrader, the pennysaver, and on every horsey website (like dream horse, horseatopia and others). I called or emailed prob over 1000 horses in my search. I would hear certain things about the horse and it would turn me off. I did not even need pictures, i just got feelings from each of the horses. Some people do not think i really tried a lot of horses, but instead of having the horses brought to me for trials i drove to their barns. Most of the horses i saw being ridden by someone else, or just say at the stables and knew it was not the horse for me. I was patient. I would rather get exactly what i wanted, then something that was just "pretty" and had no brains, or had conformation problems that might cause me problems later down the line.

When i saw/read Belle's add online, i knew she was the one. There was no picture and a short description. I read it on a school computer waiting for an appt. at school and as soon as my mom got there i made her call the owner right then and there to set up a time to go meet Belle. My mom said that wasn't a good time to call, but she ended up calling because i kept bugging her and even dialing the number and passing her the phone until she called. My mom ended up calling and setting up an appt within the next 2 weeks (i believe). From what i heard on the phone with my mom talking this sounded like the PERFECT horse for me. My mom once again told me not to get my hopes up, because she did not want me to get hurt if it did not work out again, but it was to late for that, i had already decided this was the horse we were going to buy.

The wait till the day we had set up to go meet them seemed to be THE longest days of my life. When we got to the house, it turns out that Belle had been at a trainers (basically they had run out of stalls at their place). so we had to wait for them to get back. We ended up sitting in the house with one of the daughters for almost an hour waiting. I first saw Belle walking off the trailer. She had not been to this property in about 4+ months or so, and was totally calm about it, even though there was a stallion standing in the crossties just watching. They put her in the round pen and lunged her just long enough to show us she knew it and then tacked her up. They put their western saddle on her, and a snaffle and a bosal. They told me that she really wasn't being ridden with the snaffle, but it was just there to learn how to carry it. The previous owner got on her and did walk/jog/lope in this little arena with almost no lights at dark on a 4 year old who was not even really "broke". She asked if i wanted to get on and of course i jumped at the chance. The stirrups did not get anywhere near close enough for me to be able to reach them, and the owner asked if i was ok with that, and i said it was fine and that i was used to it. She then told me a thing or two about riding Belle and sent me on my own. i knew that as soon as i did walk/jog/lope in an arena i could barely see anything in, and was full of shadows next to a breeding stallion in the crossties i was buying this horse and taking her home with me.

So the next part of our story together was getting to bring her home.  The people we bought her from actually delivered her to the barn since we did not own a trailer. It just felt right.  She was in a 24x24 pipe corral that over the years we added plywood and tarps to make part of it a 12x12 box stall so there was somewhere we could lock her up when it was raining etc.  Then came the part where I started riding her.  She was "green broke", but didn't know much at all.  I rode her for awhile, and then decided to go backwards a few steps and work on ground work before I  really started riding her. I do remember one day before I started the ground work that I let a friend get on Belle for a ride.  My friend was terrified of horse, and Belle had less then 30 days under saddle, period.  They ended up doing walk/trot in the big area on their own in a bosal. From that moment on (not that I didn't know before, I KNEW Belle was extra special!) Now back to the ground work.  I hired a trainer because at the time I knew NOTHING about how to do the ground work.  At one point, I went to join up with Belle in the round pen and we were in there for hours.  We at one point turned on the sprinklers of the arena to cool not just us, but the horse down so she wouldn't overheat.  She was just so determined to do her own thing, but let me tell you, that once she decided we were part of the herd, she has never forgotten it.  She has taken me under her wing, and I feel always will.  So then came the part of having to tell her that no! we were not going to carry her everywhere.  She needed to learn to walk on her own two feet and deal with it!  I remember clearly in my head the first time we asked her to back off and respect our bubble she reared up and struck out multiple times in protest.  Once again we had a task we had to work through.  She wasn't mean or dangerous, just had a voice she wanted to be heard.  We just had to crack into that brain of hers.

So jump sometime down the road, she is now broke and I am showing another horse who decided he did not want to listen that particular day.  So I decided to pull Belle out of her stall even though she had shown all day in western the day before.  I figured she would be tired so I asked around for a pair of spurs to use in case I needed them and went out and showed crossrail hunters.  Belle was amazing, and even though I could tell she was exhausted, she tried her heart out for me and in one of our classes I got 6th out of 14!  One of the proudest ribbons I have earned in my life! I hadn't jumped her in over 6 months and had never jumped a course on her ever!  How's that for a relationship!

Now fast forward even farther down the line.  I had decided to move her to a hunter jumper barn in Norco, CA.  This would allow me to go to more shows and have a proper trainer who not only would give me lessons, but would ride my horse when I couldn't make it out.  I ended up deciding to spend the night at a friends house and rode Belle along with bringing a backpack to her house, picked her pony up and picked her up from school that day.  We went out trail riding the first day after she got out of school and had a blast.  Went into the hills of Norco and were out for hours!  When we got back and had untacked the horses we were sitting on the fence and talking when Belle came over and stood by us, so of course I jumped on and went for a ride bridleless.  My friend then decided to jump on behind me and we did walk/trot completely tackless! what an incredible feeling!  She then hoped off and I decided to spice it up and canter as well!  I have a picture I will post of me cantering with both arms out to my side!  The next day we all tacked up (my friend, her mom, her mom's bf, and myself) and we trailed to the riverbed to go on a trail ride.  We were having a great time until a few hours later I found myself sinking as we were crossing the river.  Comes to find out we hit quick sand and we were literally sinking.  Somehow Belle got herself out and I followed her out.  However, at one point Belle had turned around and wanted to come back in for me, in which I had to tell her not to. Once I got out, I checked her over and she was a little off, but didn't know if anything was wrong or not, so decided to ride (walk) her out of the riverbed so I could get her back to the barn quicker.  Got her back to the barn, hosed her off and rubbed her down with liniment and gave her some banamine to help with her aches and pains and put standing wraps on her front legs to help keep them from being stocked up from her launching out of the quick sand.  We ended up having the vet out the next day, if I remember right, and he decided that she had put a lot of little tears in her butt muscles from launching herself so hard and she was to be on muscle relaxers for weeks.  She also was not allowed turnout but only allowed hand walking, and if it was safe enough tack walking.  Needless to say talk walking was always safe enough on Belle.  One time, 2 weeks down the line of no turn out, I put her rope halter on her, but did not tie the rope to have reins and decided bareback to walk down to the main road.  However I got the the main road and they were doing construction with jackhammers.  What do you think Belle did?  If you guess kept walking with her head down and calm, well your right!  Not even after 2 weeks of being in her stall did she let the loud noises bother her!

So down the line more I was still at this barn in Norco, and had done a few shows not only hunters but one dressage too.  At this point my health was declining without much reason and the decision to bring Belle closer to home was made.  We moved her to Chino Hills, CA which door to door is less then 6 miles from my house and I don't have to take the freeway if I don't want.  I loved my old barn, but I love my new barn as well!  I have met some awesome people who have taken not only Belle but myself under their wings.  They have been with me through car accidents, some more severe then others, through hospital stays of various sorts and just life in general, but most importantly of all, Belle was there for me.  The days that my hips were bad and I wanted to ride bareback to try and loosen them up Belle would decide if it was a good idea or not.  If it was a bad idea she would let me get on and then basically would navigate me to the mounting block or her stall and tell me politely to get off and go home.  She never did it in a defying kind of way, simply the way a mother takes care of her foal.  There were also many days that all I needed was a shoulder to cry on, or for once I had sunk into the corner of her stall to have her come wipe the tears off my face for me.  Just to come over and make silly faces because she thought I had cookies for her.  Anything to put a smile on my face.  Sometimes, doing nothing was all I needed.  I needed someone I could talk to who wouldn't give me any verbal response, who couldn't put me down or judge me, and most importantly someone who would never tell my secrets.  Someone I could trust 110%.  Belle was always that for me, and to this day still is.  If I am riding her and something starts to hurt, she does her best to correct the problem.  Somehow she know's what to do too.  I have noticed that Belle and I have a mutual respect for each other.  I protect her, she protests me.  We each know our rolls and we have combined to be on entity.  A single being that can not and will not be broken.  Recently, I was having the most perfect ride on Belle and stopped to think "why do I even need the bridle?"  So off it came!  I did walk/trot/canter bridleless in the arena both ways before I stopped.  Only one person briefly saw it, but it was just that feeling of knowing that she wasn't doing it because she had to, but simply because she chose to and because she respected and trusted me.  I at the same time had to respect and trust her too.  Trust her that she would stop etc.  But with all we have been through over the past few years, that was the easy part.   I have shared Belles love and compassion to others and she is one of the best lesson horses at the barn and has helped many a people in building courage.

Now to the future.  I am working towards getting my degree in Psychology and want to specialize in special needs children and animals. I want to use Belle as my starting horse for my program.  I know she would be amazing at it and would pass on the same love and compassion she has shown towards me.  She is the part of the reason I am looking at doing Psychology.

So to sum it up, Belle is the best thing that ever happened in my life.  I can honestly say if it were not for her I wouldn't be here.  And If I was still here, I would not be the person I am now.  So to her, I owe not only my life, but the wisdom she has taught me when others couldn't.

There are not enough words to thank you Belle,
but Thank You From the Bottom of my heart!

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