Monday, May 26, 2008

The Basics

I'm one of those girls. I played with little plastic horses for years. I have an impressive collection of both the Thoroughbred series and The Saddle Club, as well as various Walter Farley and Marguerite Henry books. Any time we drove past a pasture with horses, I'd gaze longingly as we went by. I begged for a horse and even read my parents the Shel Silverstein poem about the girl who died because she didn't get a pony. I read horse management books, I read pony club manuals. I took lessons for two years when I was about ten -- once every two weeks, which was what we could manage -- and didn't want to wash the clothes I wore, because I still wanted to smell that barn smell. I went to every horse camp we could afford.

The summer before my freshman year of high school began, several things happened in rapid succession: I broke my ankle, couldn't go to a summer horse camp, and my parents bought me half a horse. Half, naturally, because I shared him with someone (I'm sure you know how well sharing a horse worked out). He was, in the seller's terms, "a little bit underweight" and "could be pushy." You all know what that means too. Yes, I was the proud half-owner of a sickeningly skinny, soon-to-be dangerously opinionated, greener-side-of-greenbroke, still-has-his-aluminum-racing-shoes-on ex racehorse. We named him Bailey, as in Bailey's Irish Cream, since his registered name was Boldirish.

That whole adventure is a story for another day, but to sum it up: as the pounds packed on, so too did the attitude; we stumbled around blindly, muddled our way through training, and eventually figured out how to handle the groundwork on our own; we bought the other half of him and got rid of the biting and kicking; after a year or two, with the help of my trainer, we managed to convince him that trotting calmly and slowly was okay; we learned how to jump; and finally, this fall, weighed down by boatloads of schoolwork that kept me from giving him the attention he deserved and needed, we found him an eventing home in Montana. I love him dearly (after all, he's my first horse!), despite all the difficulties we went through. We learned a lot together, and I'm very proud that I was able to turn him into such a sweet, normal horse. Let me tell you, he was neither of those when he stepped off the trailer.

Just that summary itself was long, but it was a long 3 years with him, and that boy and I have a lot of history. Aside from the fact that his new owners never seem to get around to sending me pictures, it seems like he's pretty happy. Still a little unsettled over the pictures thing, though, and I'm working on it. Promise.

The McKinna of the blog title is technically my mother's mare, and our only horse. We bought her at the Woodburn auction for the princely sum of $225, and since then she has become the ultimate all-around horse. I've ridden her in basically every event for High School Equestrian Team, and our latest conquest is my ultimate dream horse sport: Eventing. We're working on it.

The rest of the cast that will eventually show up will include: Loki, another OTTB who our friend bought from the same nice gentleman as Bailey; Fiona, an irascible, belligerent Haflinger-something; Chaucer, a giant doofus of a Warmblood; and Linny, short for Linnaeus, an adorable four-year-old Appendix QH.

Since this is already turning into a novel, I'll go ahead and call it quits for now. Tune in next time for a continuation of McKinna's history up till now.

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