Absorbine recently celebrated our 120th anniversary. This naturally brought up our own beginnings and early days with horses. We decided to launch a contest asking Absorbine fans to write about their first encounters with horses and to share their memories of first falling in love with them.
Every single entry made us smile and reminisce about our own experiences. It was a wonderful experience so thank you all!!! Many of the stories have a familial connection as you would expect, and almost everyone is now a lifer with horses! We ended up picking Lauren’s piece below because her story neatly captured how horses and the people that love them can come together and become something more.
Here’s Lauren’s winning story!
When I was a little girl I took lessons, grew up around horses, and had parents who supported my equine lifestyle as much as they possibly could. I started off riding ponies, well broken horses, and after learning how to ride and bond well enough, I moved up to riding the more advanced horses.
There were two horses that were the tip of the top for the term “advanced riders required”. They were Amish bred quarter horse brothers who were so strong they broke their carts and quickly retired from that lifestyle to became project lesson horses. Everyone considered them to be crazy and hardly anyone would ride them. I dreamed of being good enough to ride them and hoped someday I would have enough confidence and experience that my opportunity would arise. One day, while I was waiting for my trainer to tell me who I was going to ride for that week’s lesson, she handed me Marshall – one of the two brothers. My stomach tightened with excitement. “Could you bring him to his stall?” she asked. Even though he wasn’t my lesson horse, I was so excited to even handle such a huge beast that I quickly replied “yes!” and off we went. I was young and even though he was a moderate 15.2 hands he was huge in comparison to me. I lead him to his stall without even a stitch of fear and upon arriving to his stall I gave him a gentle kiss on the nose, a pat on his shoulder, and off I went with the most confidence I’ve ever had to start my lesson.
The following week, I arrived to the barn early just to spend some time with Marshall. I stroked his neck, feeling his magnificent muscles below my fingers, and offering him a treat or two. Just a few weeks later my opportunity came. My trainer told me I would be riding my dream horse for my lesson. When I tacked him up we already knew each other and quickly got into the arena to start the lesson. I found out why people were so afraid of him but at this point I was aware of how to handle it. He would tuck his head to his chest, grab hold of the bit, and take off. I would circle and circle until he came down and with each lesson he had less of a fight to give. Soon enough it was time to go to the hunt and cross country fields, where him and his brother were known to act up. I was a little nervous knowing I wasn’t contained in an area where no matter how fast he went I always had my trainer close by to help me handle him. After we warmed up on the flat we jumped, which was his favorite thing to do. He would get so excited he would snort and grunt with each stride, curling his neck in all the way up to the fence. With each ride, I realized how much he was taking care of me. He hardly ever acted up in the area or the fields. I soon started to show him. This once uncontrollable beast who would give anyone a run for their money was soon placing in hunter over fences classes, elegantly taking each fence.
Soon after, my trainer realized how far we had come together. We ended our lesson early and she told us we were going to have a little fun. There was sequence of tree trunks embedded into the ground horizontally to make a set of stairs specifically made for horses and we were going to gallop up them. She warned me that he gets frisky at the top and to basically “just hold on.” With a smooch and hardly enough time for a squeeze of the leg, he took off. The power underneath me surpassed anything I’ve ever experience. The wind in my face, the adrenaline rushing through each of our veins, and the bond we had developed made me feel untouchable. He didn’t even pull anything crazy when we arrived at the top of the steps, just a confident horse mounted by a confident rider.
We rode for almost a decade together until the day he had to be retired due to arthritis. I would always stop by his stall and reminisce about the first time I walked him and how far we had come together. Even just writing about it brings tears to my eyes. Eventually, Marshall had to be put down because he could hardly move and I am glad I was with him to the end. The barn changed to a private facility quickly after that and now houses the owner’s and friend’s horses. I still sometimes go there and stand at Marshall’s old stall, even though it contained another horse, and think of all the good times we had together and how much he taught me. It has been over 10 years since he passed but I can still remember the soft touch of his fur and the hard feel of his muscles underneath my fingers like it was yesterday. I will never forget him, or our memories.
Congratulations on being Absorbine’s 120th Anniversary Contest winner Lauren! We’re putting together a big ‘ole gift basket for you!