Last week I had my one year “Ownerversary” with Justin – despite us being a partnership for so long, I only actually purchased him a year ago – so what better time to reflect on our time together? Let’s start from the beginning…
September 2012 – I was a sophomore in college, and had spent the last two years catch riding whatever I could. This left me longing for my own consistent ride again, so I asked my mom if I could buy a horse, and seeing as though I was still on her dime, she said no. Obviously, I continued to browse online ads anyway.
November 2012 – I found a lovely little grey horse. He had no show record, but experience in many different areas. Plus, I mean look how cute he is?? Love at first sight if I’ve ever known it.
I called my mom, “We must buy this horse!” She said no, but after a few weeks of consistent badgering she agreed to help me out if I was able to lease the horse. I called his owner, Lisa Evans Weinwrum, and wearily offered this proposition, assuming I would get another negative answer. To my surprise, she said it may be possible, and invited me to come try him.
December 6, 2012 – Mom and I drive outside of Athens to go see this adorable grey pony. Upon arrival, Justin was looking a bit like a diamond in the rough. He hasn’t been ridden in a few months, as Lisa had surgery on both wrists for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but his sweet eye and catching personality shine above this.
As I swung my leg in the saddle, his time off was painfully apparent. He felt hot and sensitive in the bit, and a running martingale and a bucking strap may have been helpful pieces. As I asked for the canter, his bucking abilities really had a chance to shine, but I stuck in the saddle and ended up on somewhat of a collected 15-meter trot circle in an effort to keep it together.
I walked over to my mom, who couldn’t hide the look of horror on her face, and said, “I LOVE him!” Her affect then transformed into sheer confusion as I started discussing the terms of a lease with Lisa.
April 2013 – Justin’s first Horse Trial at FENCE. Despite the large amount of schooling Justin had, this was his first real show. Being as herd bound as he is, he whinnied through his entire dressage test; the cross-country was an absolute blast, and we had one rail in show jumping. This was also the first UGA’s first collegiate challenge. We had a ball!
May 2013 – Windridge Horse Trials. Justin completes his second horse trial at novice, and finishes on his dressage score.
Summer 2013 – Justin was a great outlet for a rough breakup with then-boyfriend of five years.
August 2013 – Justin and I were winning a novice division after dressage at Chattahoochee Hills on a 29.5 (!!!). I fell off on cross-country.
Fall 2013 – After this fall, I struggled quite a bit with my confidence over fences, and the more nervous I got, the more often Justin would stop. We fed off each other’s insecurities, and through September of this year our jumping was really at a low point. This was a true turning point in my riding where I really transformed from a mere passenger to an active pilot.
October 2013 – At the end of October, Justin and I returned to Chattahoochee Hills for another collegiate challenge. We were returning to our last failure, and found the same jump on course. We didn’t have a spectacular weekend, but we made it all the way around, much more confidently. I was so proud to work through many demons over the fall.
November 2013 – Our first Novice/Training at Pine Top with what my vet called, “The fasted stadium round all day.” Justin and I like to run fast when we’re nervous! Haha
December 2013 – Justin begrudgingly accepts Kody into the “family,” and really begins to love him when he realizes Kody is the king of treats.
March 2014 – Training level move up at Pine Top! So proud of the booger
November 2014 – We pulled in our first blue ribbon in the training division at Pine Top (Clearly we like this place, haha)
March 2015 – Justin had a very serious colic, which was finally solved medically at the UGA Vet School, but nearly ended with euthanization or surgery for the pony.
May 1, 2015 – I finally bought Justin! Overcome with how much I loved him, despite a few flaws and sometimes poor veterinary prognosis about his potential, I decided he will have a forever home with me!
October 2015 – Justin and I make a move 700 miles away from home to Middleburg
This horse has become such a special and permanent feature in my life. Spending time with him and riding him have been such welcomed therapeutic outlets through many phases of my life; a really rough break up, struggling through school, multiple jobs, some of my lowest lows and highest highs… When we met I was a college student who couldn’t even decide on a major, and now I am a young professional with a (mostly) clear direction in life. I don’t think a non-horse person could really comprehend how important this animal is to me. I’m thankful every day for him (even when he bucks me off), and I can’t wait to enjoy many many more rides together!
My reflecting was spurred on by my ownerversary, and my next upcoming event…
May 2016 – The Preliminary move up! I just entered Virginia Horse Trials, which is the last weekend of the month, and you read that right: I entered the Preliminary. We have been running training level successfully for the last two years, and I am looking forward to this new challenge. I am entered in Plantation HT this weekend (training) and will do a Preliminary Combined Test the weekend before, so I have a few opportunities to check our gears and make sure everything is tuned up and ready for the big event. Hopefully this time next month I’ll have a Prelim pony on my hands!