The Tough Choice: Finding The Right Bond

Last summer I was faced with a terribly hard decision, of which of my two horses to sell, Iggy or McFly.  I was very grateful to even have the opportunity to make a decision like this, because it meant I had been lucky enough to own and compete two horses, but when the time came and one had to be sold, I was torn.  It wasn’t like I had a continuous tally going on, giving points to the horse that did better in the show, or jumped better one day; I knew this decision was not going to come from results alone, because in that case Iggy would have won no doubt.  Together he and I had never been below 2nd place. I had to look into my heart to make the right decision, because both were great horses that were successful, but success only goes so far when based off  of talent, and at some point success will be based on how strong your bond is with your horse.  If your horse doesn’t trust you, and you don’t trust your horse, you will only get to a certain point.  This was constantly in the back of my head throughout the decision.

When I got Iggy, we bought him without seeing him.  My coach tried him and told me he was perfect for me.  He was the perfect horse, extremely talented and a packer.  I never felt in our time together that we created some amazing bond that I so longed for, but I never noticed that emptiness in our relationship until I met McFly. I will never forget where I tried him.  I went alone to this small farm after jump judging at GMHA’s fall event.  I looked into his stall and saw this little OTTB hurry right over to the door, eager to say hi.  Bekki (the lady that was selling him) told me that he was a horse that needed a bond with one rider, and only then would his true talents come out.  At that moment, I knew I had to have him.  We were both in some way alone, both waiting for that perfect horse or rider to come around.  When it was my turn to get on him, we did flatted and jumped a little, and then Bekki led me out to a field.  She pointed at a few very rustic looking cross country jumps.  I was jumping around, and all of a sudden 20 horses come cantering up to McFly and I, and started to follow us around.  He didn’t even bat an eye.  When my time trying McFly wrapped up I called my coach and mom and begged them to let me bring him home that day.  I needed him. I felt a feeling that I had never felt on a horse before.  I had gone to the farm looking for a horse to ride for a little, compete and then re-sell—something to ride while Iggy was hurt.  The longer I stayed at the farm trying McFly, the less I wanted to sell little McFly.  He was the horse I had been looking for.  It’s funny how I traveled to Ocala and Aiken at the nicest barns searching for the “perfect” horse, when he was just sitting in a backyard in Vermont for free.

 This little anecdote probably gave away who I chose to keep…but McFly it was!  I knew I wanted to keep McFly deep down, but everyone else kept telling me to keep Iggy so I began to second-guess myself.  I still miss Iggy terribly, but he went to a great home with another young rider who he is earning many more blue ribbons with!

Over the year and a half I have had with McFly, I finally understand what it takes in this sport to be successful: Trust.  I had to take the time to make him trust me in the beginning.  Having to jump 2’7” for a few months, and charging at the jumps, will really humble a girl.  I needed a horse that would humble me and show me that this sport isn’t all about the ribbons; its about getting better and progressing at each and every show.  My favorite show of my career with McFly was when I didn’t even get a ribbon.  It’s a team sport, not an individual sport where you just find any horse that will take you through those finish flags—you can only go so far doing that. I saw something in him that day as we were jumping cross country jumps with a herd of horses following us behind, something that I am glad no one else saw first, or else he wouldn’t be mine.  It is important to look not only at the number of ribbons a horse has won, but at the size of his heart because most times, if mixed with the right rider, the pair will go a lot farther.

 

 

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Iggy and I at our last event together

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McFly and I after our first double clear Prelim stadium together
Photo Courtesy of Turtles Way

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McFly and I in Aiken. Photo Courtesy of Brant Gamma

 

Katherine

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