Feet to Fancy

Once there was a 9 year old girl who loved soccer (but she loved horses more). For two years she played on a great team, went to a championship, and learned that sometimes a single kick can change the entire game. 

One day her parents told her she could go to soccer camp, and she looked forward to the week right up until she got a bad cold. Instead of a week of sports she faced a week of misery, and the only thing she felt like playing was her Nintendo

She assumed she’d lost her chance to attend camp that summer, but one day her parents came to her with news.

“We’re sorry you missed soccer camp,” they said. “Would you like to go to pony camp instead?”

“Oh, yes!” the little girl exclaimed. She didn’t know there were pony camps with live ponies, and the thought made her giddy.

A few days later, her mother took her to the pony school for an introductory lesson.

Bonnie the instructor was nice, but she was very outgoing. Her frank personality scared the young girl a little, but she didn’t dare say anything because this nice lady had all the ponies. Bonnie told the girl which camp to attend, and she the went home feeling like Sprenkil’s wings were under her.

Pony week came, and the little girl met her mount: Fancy. She was white and tall with a push-button personality, and she loved her because for one week the pony was hers. Fancy taught the girl to balance, she taught her to post and canter, and she taught her to jump over poles.

The little girl could scarcely believe her biggest dream was coming true–she was riding!

After pony week ended, the young rider admitted she’d never been happier to be sick than that cold before soccer camp. It was a point of major change, one that she didn’t hesitate to make. 

She traded a soccer ball for a saddle, and there was no looking back.

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L.J. and Fancy

Fancy’s story didn’t stop with pony camp. When the young rider broke her arm falling off a different pony a year later (that’s a tale for another blog post), Fancy was the one who eased her back into riding and restored her confidence.

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Remembering SkyHawk

Part of me is somewhat saddened that the issue with my eyes has forced me to write less on the computer. Among other things, I had hoped to participate in the A-Z Challenge this year, but (obviously) that isn’t going to happen anymore.

What I am going to share today is a memory, and to this day it remains one of the strongest memories I have of my first horse, SkyHawk. I spent about 2 hours today going through my personal journals looking for the entry, and at length I found it.

I’ve been talking recently about stories where people rescued horses, but there’s also a place for stories where horses rescued people. Physical rescue is heroic, but so is emotional rescue. I know almost as little about therapy horses as I do about rescue horses, with one exception. I’ve been rescued before, and this is my story.

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The last photo of SkyHawk and Me.

July 7, 2004

A couple months after I first got SkyHawk, my brother started showing the first signs of what eventually (i.e. four years later) led to his diagnosis of bi-polar disorder. At the beginning, though, we didn’t know what was going on. We just thought my brother was going through some weird form of rebellion, so when the first real blow came that something was seriously wrong, I fell apart.

You must understand, before my brother started changing he was my best friend hands down. We did everything together, shared all our secrets, and valued the other’s opinion more than anyone else’s. The day I realized I’d lost that, I almost broke.

I ran to the only other place I had (I was 16, but not driving at the time and thus couldn’t escape that way)–I ran to my horse’s stall. Hawk was still relatively new to me, and I didn’t know him that well. I wasn’t sure if I really trusted him yet, but I was in a bad way and willing to take my chances just to be with something living and outside the house.

I sat down in the corner and started crying hard, silent tears, my face buried in my knees and my arms wrapped around my legs. After a few minutes I heard Hawk moving around, then I felt this light pressure on the back of my neck. I opened my eyes and looked up, and through watery vision I saw he was standing over me with his nose pressed against my shoulder. I cried even harder then, and he stayed with me, nose to shoulder, for what felt like ages.

I’ll never forget that night. It was the moment I knew Hawk and I understood each other. I trusted Hawk completely after that.

Hawk and I went on to do all kinds of things together. I took a fancy to bareback jumping and bridle-less riding (but not bridle-less jumping, because I wasn’t quite that brave). We went for trail rides through acres of apple orchards and vineyards, taught each other the passage and piaffe, and consumed large amounts of root beer (me moreso than him, but he did enjoy the occasional swig).

I miss him.

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My Horse Sprenkil has another rejection! Time to send out more queries…