Story submitted by Second Chance Ranch.
Have you met your soulmate? I have. twice actually. Some horse people call them a soulmate, others prefer “heart horse”. Twice in my life, I had the extraordinary good fortune to find my four-legged, swishy-tailed soulmate.
The first, I cannot take credit for. My dad heard about a horse that everyone thought was something special. I was 6, he was a 3-year-old Lippitt Morgan/Arabian cross named North Star’s Pride. Pride and I grew up together. We had the most amazing relationship I have ever had the honor of experiencing. We eventually trained through the uppermost echelons of equestrian sports. I have ridden, trained, and schooled more horses than I can count, and Pride taught me more than all of them combined.
In addition to helping me learn the majority of what I know about riding and training horses, Pride protected me. He was my shoulder to cry on, my partner and best friend for nearly 20 years. Losing him devastated me enough that I wanted out horses. It just wasn’t in my heart anymore without him. I still loved horses, I just didn’t want to ride or be involved any longer with the animals that had been my whole life.
After several years, I knew there was something missing, but it took me a while to put my finger on what it was. That something was horses. I would ride occasionally and visit my friend’s horses, mostly to get “horse smell” on my clothes and in my hair. It is a soothing smell for horse people. Once horses are in your soul, that smell will forever be comforting.
It had been 15 years since I rode and worked with horses with any regularity when I started helping a friend with her young horses. We started looking for a horse for her husband. He made a connection with Katie Merwick, Director of Second Chance Ranch and Leading with Horses. We thought a retired schoolmaster Thoroughbred might be perfect for him and decided to start the search there. Here is where my second soulmate story begins.
We headed out to Second Chance Ranch to meet Katie and some of her horses. We walked around and among so many—each one was healthy, a great weight, with a shiny coat, bright eyes and so friendly! Unfortunately, we did not find a horse for hubby, but one particular horse had been following me around all day. Katie told me his name was Gamble and he was available for adoption. I laughed and let her know I wasn’t really looking to get a horse for myself.
A few weeks went by and I looked at my budget and decided I could do it. I called Katie and made arrangements to spend some time with Gamble. He ended up not being the right fit for me, but I had decided it was time for a horse. Katie and I sat down with the list of available horses and on my next trip out, I started meeting them one-on-one.
When I met Andy, the first thing I noticed was he was a dark bay, with one white rear fetlock and a star on his forehead. Horse people tend to have a “type” and Andy was exactly my “type”! He was attentive, lunged nicely, moved beautifully, exhibited a solid brain even when away from his friends, had great ground manners and was so very sweet. It took less than 5 minutes and I knew. He was going to be my new best friend.
Katie and I talked about it and she offered a 30 day trial to make sure Andy and I were a good fit for each other. It didn’t take but 3 days and I was ready to adopt him.
Andy has since been renamed Braego. We have done some hacking/trail riding, some arena work, although this is not a favorite for either of us. He was trained as a dressage horse and did some jumping between leaving the track and coming to live with me. Braego likes having “his person” and moving from the track to an adoptive home then to the rescue was tough for him. This inadvertently created an opportunity for me when I came looking for the right horse.
What happens when an unsuccessful racehorse meets a retired Grand Prix level rider? One gets a forever home and the other gets a best friend and second chance with her soulmate.
In the last three years, Braego and I have formed a bond that is difficult to explain. He knows the sound of my truck and always meets me at the gate. I always have his favorite cookies and cut his apples up into bite-sized pieces. He understands me and has helped me regain my confidence. I am his forever home. Two peas in a pod, partners in crime and best friends
Second Chance Ranch is a 501c3 corporation established in 1999 and serves as a sanctuary for a special collection of retired sport horses offering a unique animal-assisted therapy.