"If I could just come in, I swear I'll leave - I won't take nothing but a memory"
The blog hop asks an interesting question - excluding your current mount, which horse "made" you. It's an easy answer for me, but a sad one too. Beans made me. Beans not only made me the rider I am today, but he also altered the course of my life (and I'm not being dramatic when I say that).
Before becoming a dressage school master (shown through fourth level, and schooling more advanced movements), he was a prelim eventer. Eventing was hard on Beans' front legs, and he became unsound. He had both front hooves nerved, and thus wasn't game to jump any longer. And that's about the time he came to me.
I remember the first time I rode Beans. I remember what an absolute pleasure it was. I smiled from ear to ear, and told my mom this was definitely the horse for me. Now -- before you go thinking I was that 16 year old girl who got a pony for Christmas, let me tell you - that's not the case. I was given the horse, but his board and all his other bills went directly to me. Which means I had to get a job. And so I did - I got a job at a local, gourmet pizza place (that I wound up working at off-and-on through college) and paid for my horse habit. Beans taught me how to be responsible and how to work for what I wanted.
He was quite an expense for a 16 year old girl. For every day Beans was sound and healthy to ride, we had three off days. He was off. A LOT. We had his hocks injected, we had chiropractors, acupuncturists, you name it, I tried it. I even called a horse psychic once *smh* What a joke. But, alas, I was young. The only thing that kept him relatively sound were injections of steroids, and weekly physical therapy sessions to keep his butt muscles built up. Beans taught me how to care for something, or someone, besides myself.
As I said earlier, Beans was a schoolmaster. When he was on, he was ON. I learned so much on him and got so far in my knowledge of horses. He was forgiving for the things I didn't know, he'd test me on those I thought I knew, and he'd happily execute anything I really knew. Beans taught me how to really ride a horse.
Beans was also spooky, and one time bolted with me when I was showing him off to my grandma. I wound up still on his back, clinging desperately to his neck and sobbing in front of her. Hahaha - Beans taught me to be humble.
Before I owned Beans, I went out with my friends a lot. We'd spend the night at each others houses and then sneak out to go hang out with guys way older than us. But once I had Beans, I realized that it was more fun to be out at the barn late at night with him. I didn't have to be drunk to enjoy his company. He didn't have hidden motives. It was therapeutic, rather than being the thing to put me in therapy ;) Beans taught me that I didn't need boys (at least human boys) to be happy, something I think many sixteen year old girls need to learn.
Beans was not only unsound quite often, but he also had very serious issues with ulcers and choking. Horses don't vomit, but if you ever see one hacking up crunched up food - they're choking. I studied, I read up on his ailments, I theorized with his vet (god bless that vet for spending so much time with me). I wanted to help Beans. I wanted to help animals. And so, because I suddenly had direction in my life, I went from being a C-D-F student to being a straight A student my junior and senior year so that I could get into college to become a vet. Beans taught me to think about my future and what I wanted from life.
I wound up retiring Beans to a beautiful place with huge pastures after he had a debilitating bought with pigeon fever. When I'd go out to visit him he'd come to me, and I'd pet his beautiful face, and take note of his weight, which as I stated earlier - was never great, even at the best of times. Beans died in that beautiful place a year or so after he was moved there. He was also buried there, which happens to be illegal in Colorado, but I was and am still glad to know that he got to stay in his relaxing home. Beans taught me how to let go, but also how to remember in my heart, which I still do to this day.