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Heart Horse | Emily and Puppy

Do you believe in a heart horse? Some people are as skeptical about it as soulmates but, I believe they exist. There are some riders that view a horse as an animal that is needed to compete, but I think horses should be so much more! For me, a horse is an invaluable partner that I trust with my life, but above all else, they are a part of my family. 

I started riding about six years ago when I first moved to Colorado. I had been in a saddle when I was a child but when I was about fifteen I really learned how to ride and it led me to the competition world. I started out just doing walk-trot-canter in IEA and progressed from there. The next summer my trainer let me ride her lesson horse Wesley and I got to compete in my first local CHJA show doing cross rails. I was nervous for my first cross-rails course, I didn’t breathe the whole round. Once I walked out of the ring and finally took a breath, I was hooked! 

That fall my trainer had me try riding this beautiful chestnut named Roo. He was twenty-three and loved his job. Unfortunately, his owner was ready for bigger things, but he was perfect for me to learn the stirrups on. He was the first horse I had ever leased and he taught me so many amazing things. He showed me how to see distances, taught me about how to use spurs correctly, and other things like lateral work. His owner was even more amazing. She taught me about how to care for him and everything I needed to know about my first horse. The next summer I competed in my first stirrups class with hopes of even making it to Medal Finals. Sadly during the summer, he had become lame and had to be retired, but I am forever grateful for him. 

Luckily, my trainer still wanted to make my dream of Medal Finals come true, so she let me take Wesley into the ring and he got me qualified. While Wesley is amazing, he is spooky, and my trainer thought he would not succeed in such a scary indoor arena, so the search for another horse had begun. A horse at my barn had become available for a lease, but it did not work out. When all hope was lost, my friend’s horse Puppy was just coming back from an out of barn lease for a week before leaving again. My trainer popped me on him for that week and saw potential, so she arranged for me to ride him at Medal Finals. He came back from his last lease a week before the show. It was hard, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to love a new horse, but I buckled down and tried to figure him out before Medal Finals. I was a wreck once we got to the show. I had never been to such a big show, especially one where I had twenty-two other competitors and a new horse. However, after we finished our round, I came out with a green ribbon, a grin from ear to ear, and was completely in love! 

It wasn’t an easy journey for us. We had our win at Medal Finals but I still had so much to learn about him. I love that he is always forgiving and tries his hardest to help. However, he is a big boy and can be strong, long, and heavy. He made me gain muscle, stamina, and patience. We had ups and downs. After some falls I had become terrified of lines so we started playing around in the jumper ring. Two years after our first appearance, we returned to Medal Finals competing in the 2’9” equitation, and won third place. This year we will be returning again for the 2’9” equitation, but we are a different team now than we were two years ago. We still don’t win everything, in fact, this year we received our first Champion ribbon ever. I struggle with confidence and staying out of my head, but I know Puppy always has my back. In the past, Puppy has always been the leader, but this year we will return and whatever we win will be because of all the hard work we have put into ourselves. This year we are a team. We make decisions on purpose and together. They may not always be right but I trust him more than ever and he trusts me to support him. 

It is a remarkable thing to win a class, but it is even more astounding to be in sync with your horse. Puppy and I have grown so much together and hit a point where it’s almost like we can read each other’s minds. He knows when I am going to ask him to stretch and go get a long distance and we are on it together! It’s like all the pieces have fallen into place and all is right in the world. Everything feels meant to be. I have started genuinely smiling during my courses. When we nail the first few jumps it is like we are on top of the world and unstoppable. Whether we win the class or not, it is a win for our team and I would never trade that experience for anything.

He started out as a lease for a show and little did I know, nearly four years later, he would still be the love of my life. He has taken me from jumping around at 2’ to competing at 2’9”. He has taught me so many things about riding, but so many invaluable life lessons too. While I have always been grateful for all the horses I have been lucky enough to ride throughout my career, Puppy is beyond special. He has been with me throughout high school, college, and now the current chapter of my life. 

Puppy is not only a horse, my partner, my pet, but a precious member of my family. He has been on every Christmas card and is always a topic of conversation. My letters of recommendation and personal statement for dental schools all include Puppy. He is a huge part of my life and hopefully, I can get into dental school in-state and continue to have Puppy in my life. Even though I don’t own him, he is so special. I never want to think about a life without him but he will forever be a big part of my life. He is my heart horse! It’s sad to think about other horses I will have, and I am sure I will have another heart horse, but Puppy will forever be my first. A heart horse is more than a horse, they are a partner, a member of the family, and you just can’t imagine life without them.

You can follow our journey on Instagram by following @puppythehorse