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There will always be special horses in our lives that shape who we are, not just as riders, but as people.

Whether a first horse, a special school horse, or that challenging horse that nothing seems to work for, through the time and connection with these horses, they change us.

This video was inspired by a question I received on who were the horses that had most influenced me?

I have been lucky to have many special horses in my life, but there were three that have impacted me the most.

Hit play on the video below to meet them and after watching the video, leave a comment and tell us about a special horse that has impacted your life.


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61 Responses

  1. My current lease pony, Max. Dark bay, about 13 (ish) hands. I have leased him since May and will be done end of July. Ever since the pony camps and short trips to the barn and then throughout my working days, Max had always been my favorite. Then I got the chance to lease him! He has taught me what it means to have a relationship with a horse. Not just a hobby to have or something to do and talk to, but that a horse can be one of your best friends. He has taught me the team work it takes to ride well. And the therapy they provide. I love Max and hope he gets more chances after me to teach other kids the same!

  2. Wow, Raleigh (sp?) sounds just like how my warmblood-cross gelding was…his reaction in the short video clip is like deja vu. He taught me that a “still” horse is not necessarily a “quiet” horse, but may be more like a ticking time bomb. I’d work on sacking him out and riding bitless and at a loose rein with some success, but he’d still be like as if on a hair-trigger like he’s expecting something bad to happen. Yes, he has been abused by a previous owner. The in-hand work helped him relax I noticed. Yet, I realized he was too much for me after being thrown hard enough to send me to the ER and months of surgeries and rehab. Lesson learned! Luckily, we still have our first horse which is a cool quarter horse mare and on whom I learned most of my riding thus far. Hopefully she can bring me out of this funk given the way she makes me feel more at peace just my being with her!

    1. I just wanted to add that my gelding now lives with a trainer who will patiently work him through his challenges, so that he may still have a bright future with a better matched rider. He can be such a sweet boy when he doesn’t feel vulnerable or threatened!

  3. My most memorable horse was a dark bay Morgan gelding called Barney. I got him when he was 4 and I had him until his death when he was 32. He was green under saddle but not in harness so I taught him to be confident under saddle and he taught me confidence in driving. We spent hours under saddle on trails just walking to show him it’s ok to walk and to just relax. We eventually showed, went in parades, sleigh rides and buggy rides. Our trust in each other began to show because once at a new trail I got somewhat lost and I let him have his head and he took me home. Another time he smelled a bear or coyote and I let him walk me quietly home. But it wasn’t until his late 20’s our bond magnified. I’d take him out on a trail alone and I would let him pick his pace depending on how he felt. Some days just a walk and other days a trot or a canter. It was like a feeling of connectiveness I can’t even explain. IT was if our minds were in the same place. He had a love of woods trails as I did. I miss him still after ten years since he’s been gone.

  4. A “feral” childhood in the company of horses and dogs is just the best isn’t it? Saved my emotional life and I will be forever grateful. It is also the source of inner strength that no-one can take away.
    I love the books “Ride the Right Horse” and “Is your horse a Rock Star?”-which gave me more concrete information on why-on an intuitive level I have always gravitated towards friendly, curious, generally medium to high energy, non-dominant geldings -who have all given me a sense of connection, surprising safety and partnership.
    Presently-I am on my eighth year with an intrinsically aloof, medium to high energy, semi-dominant, reactively fearful mare-and it has been a really interesting and mostly joyful journey of discovery with all the help available on line and in books these days!!! I am older and have a lot of flexibility in time, and watching her little wheels turn and her reactivity become more “stretched” -literally helping me have a few seconds to help her get through it, or as she gains balance and rhythm-which were not very natural to her. Being both starved and with some conformation imbalances-as well as the fact that she is half fox trotter and half Arab-sometimes her poor brain doesn’t know which horse to bring into gear! 🙂 She can do things with her hind legs in rapid succession that as you are riding along-can really give you a puzzle to work out!
    She now loves her attention, is awesome to ride by herself, has learned not to kick the dogs(indeed-she now thinks they are vital riding partners!), and we are working with success on not being reactively aggressive to riding partners horses as we go along too. This is the first year (age 10) for canter work-and she is just a delightful ongoing project that has taught me so much! Have to say though-I’m always on my toes with this one-whereas I could get pretty sloppy sometimes on my “boys.”…

  5. I currently own 4 horses. And lost my first horse to colic. I purchased a wonderful paint gelding about 6 months afterwards. I knew something was wrong with him when I looked at him., but could tell he was a good horse. He really had no behavior issues. He was a perfect trail horse. But his lameness got worse. So lots of money later he was diagnosed navicular. But that didn’t stop us. That horse taught me massage therapy. He taught me a lot about supplements, proper hoff trimming, and how to keep him in shape when I couldn’t ride him. Six years later I still ride him. He has brought me through some really rough personal times. I can take him out alone with the dog, and the 3 of use have a time of healing not only mentally but physically as I have arthritis. I pray every day that God will give us more years of riding as he is only 13.

  6. I have had a few special horses in my life. My first – Magic a Morgan was a highly trained three day eventer and winner of many championships. He made me work for his respect and love and it was well worth it. Granted I was in my late forties when I got him and quite the novice. Second was a baby appendix I saved from the meat buyer. I trained him and brought him up to become a lesson horse for a great farm that took him even further. He is now owned by a wonderful girl that could not see her future without him. The third is a Morgan mare that I got when she was five. She was so full of fear that it took me 3 years to get her to trust and relax. At first she was literally dangerous, now at 17 she is calm and happy and has warm soft eyes. I did not understand the people that said she was trash and I should just send her to the killers – I saw something in her that said she needed understanding and time to readjust her thinking that humans were not bad and frightening, but understanding and willing to work with her. Thank you for the video and I look forward to learning more from you.

  7. My first horse,Remi. He was an older saddlebred and was a gentleman and a very patient teacher. I got back into re-riding at age 54. Remi was 24 when I got him from a rescue and I had him until he passed away at 30. Kenny is my horse now. He had a lot of trust issues among other things when I got him. He has taught me to be a confident person that always will look out for him. I have had him for 3 1/2 yrs and it has taken almost 3 years to prove that I am worthy of his trust. He is very patient with my riding mistakes and now looks out for me. Kenny is 11 and I look forward to spending many years with him. Kenny is a fox trotter/qh/draft cross. Jack is our baby at 5 yrs old. We got him as a 3 yr old. He is very sane and tries so hard to do what is asked of him. For being so young I am impressed how smart and quick he learns things. We can’t wait to see how far he will go. Jack is a TB/traekhner cross. All 3 have taught me so much. I will always be in their debt for making me a better person.

    1. Heidi, I always like to think that we can repay them for the lessons they teach us by providing them the best lives that we possibly can!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  8. My two boys I can say have saved my life. After 30 years of chronic depression and anxiety they have helped me more than any meds or treatments. I have had them a year and in that time have taught myself to ride, do ground work with them, look after their hoofs – I went shoeless and I have never used a bit. Anyway I love my boys and doesn’t matter how down I am, I know that they will be excited to see me and I love the soft whinnies at my bed room window to wake me up in the morning. It makes me awake laughing at the silly buggers. I think my wife is jealous =)

    1. Every significant other of a horse person knows how important our horses are to us! 🙂 I’m so happy to hear what an impact horses have had on your life!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  9. Im Brooke I am nine years old and I love my horse Magic because I went to four H horses and I did’nt have a horse and this nice lady named Effie let me ride Magic and as soon as I started riding Magic I felt like I was riding a rainbow. Also when I put her up on the trailer she would look at me and I used to get on her bare back and brush whil I was sitting on her back!

    1. Thanks for leaving a comment Brooke! 4H is a great program for young riders just like you! Sounds like Magic is a great riding pal for you 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  10. I have two horses and a donkey, and each one has been such valuable teachers.
    The big Friesian sporthorse can be aggressive and pushy, so has taught me to be a firm and fair leader. Emphasis on fair. If someone were to come along and work with him through dominance, that would be a disaster. He likes fair direction and needs to know exactly what and why we are doing something. He has taught me to be interesting and variable, and to keep things moving or else interest and cooperation will be lost. He also taught me how to take a joke from a horse.
    The Spanish Mustang was ultra-spooky and nervous, and has grown much better now and more sane. I learned she always needs a “home base” where she can go back to and re-set her mind if she gets over whelmed. Endless patience needed with her.
    Donkey has taught me a lot about how he thinks. How to put yourself in his place and imagine how he feels. Ultra-smart and sensitive, he catches on quick but at the same time needs his own time to think things through and decide that the task is safe for him. Empathy and patience.
    Like you said, learn to listen each and everyday to each horse, what they are able to give you that day. They have and good and bad days like all of us, and good and bad traits that need to be taken into consideration and understood. Yes, every horse has really taught me empathy for all animals and people, too.

  11. I love your videos. So much. Every time I listen to you talk about horses, about riding, about training, I am inspired to be a better horsewoman. I am inspired to be more compassionate. I am inspired to study equine behavior more thoroughly, both academically and through my own observation. I was going to do a bunch of grounds keeping on the farm today, but instead I’m going to go exploring with my horse, Ranger. Thanks for today’s video.

  12. Well back some years, like almost 40, I was living in Austin, TX. Met some folks there who worked in a riding stables and ended up getting a job there. I had already been riding some, but never really took lessons, my friend I guess was my teacher!! She had a Strawberry Appaloosa mare named Sioux boarded at the stables. So Sioux was a fiesty thing to say the least!! Wanted to run everywhere……..her owner taught me to make sure I was the boss of my ride not her!! Was the first horse I guess I really learned on and rode quite often. I think it was the challenge of riding her that was my best memory, she was beautiful and did a prancing gate around the arena……..was beautiful to watch……later my friend moved up north to PA where I lived and Sioux was with her. Changes in riding area…….back dirt roads and woods all around. We went on many exciting rides during those days…….letting this horse go full speed was something……by then I wasn’t so afraid of doing it…….just had to hang on!! Recently in my 60’s have been going to a stables with a friend and have been on a couple different horses. The last one not long ago is a “huge” draft horse mare. They use her for some lessons so she seemed pretty good for me to try. Her name is Rosebud!! I was calling her Big Rose! Anyways….some of her history around there I guess is she trys to start a fight with other mares and most new riders seem nervous around her. Well I stood with her while grooming before our ride looking right in her eyes and talking to her……telling her I know what it is like to be misunderstood~~!! She seemed to understand…..had a nice ride..she is pretty gentle…..stood beside her to get a pic to show how big she was………..she turned her head to me and was nuzzling my shoulder!!! So guess I made a friend……..I am anxious to see and ride her again actually……

  13. I love ypur videos they are inspiring and beautiful. I have 2 horses that shaped my lifr. The first horse was a little section B Welsh pony that belonged to my grandad she was his first brood mare. I was 4 months old when he first sat me on her and I was obviously hooked, she gave me the love trust and care for horses.I cared for her up until I was 12 years of age. Her name was brenda. From 12 I rode other peoples horses then trained and got my BHSAI. Years went by and I had a bad experience wiwa Welsh section D cob long ago. Bramble came along from a very sad story last year she is a Welsh section D. I did not have the heart to refuse her. This horse is a very special cob, she restored my faith in cobs bless her she is amazing and has a very huge fan club. I love this horse to bits. I own 4 horses and love them all but benlog bramble gets my heart badly.her story is to long to simple words she has a black beauty story

  14. I was fortunate that the majority of my horses over many, many years were either born at my farm or came to me very young as blank slates. A few came as 5-7 year olds but had mild beginnings and were uncomplicated. All taught me something important and our experiences were broad. Then there’s Remy who arrived a little over two years ago as a four year old. He came to me from his breeder after being injured in his last race. I knew his history, or at least the big details. On day four or five of bringing him home, he bit me pretty savagely (I still have a lump in my arm) and he threatened anyone who went in his stall. Grooming him was an exercise in developing quick reflexes. After hoping for a month or so that he would settle in and relax, and ruling out physical issues, it was apparent there was more going on and I considered selling him. I’d never had a horse so unpredictable and inconsistent. But, at some point I decided I had committed to giving him a good home and would stick with him even if he wasn’t the kind of horse I wanted at this stage of my life. And, he was pretty much Barbie’s Dream Horse out of the barn. A real Jekyl and Hyde. Because of him I have found huge reserves of patience, the ability to ignore all unsolicited advice and negative comments, and the confidence to stick with what I think is right. I read everything I could find about working with difficult horses, tested what did and didn’t work with him, and researched any and all potential physical issues. I have become so in tune with Remy that I can tell within seconds how he feels on a given day. He no longer bites or kicks but he still has crabby days, he won’t tolerate fools, and I have to “instruct” anyone who has to interact with him. He has had injuries and illnesses that required me to become creative in keeping him calm and happy. Now, the minute he hears my car he calls to me. Another horse was my “heart horse” and taught me about devastating loss, but Remy is the one who has shown me what I’m capable of.

    1. What a great story. So glad you stuck it out. It breaks my heart when horses bounce from home to home getting more messed up every time.

  15. My childhood horse, Whirly, was my almost constant companion till adulthood. She kept you on your toes as a rider. Living on a farm, we explored everything we could, usually with my collie. Whirly was not lazy, and would gladly race my collie, King. Other times, I just sat on her and loved her. We had a great time together, the 3 of us. I’ll never forget those days.

  16. When I was about 8 year’s old I was given a poney. Her name was Sirène (Siren I believe in English). We were leaving in a little village and the barn was practically next door so my baby brother and I would take her and a bike and ride around, together with our friends, taking turns on her. Our parents would let us wander around with her with no supervision, it was a great feeling of freedom and we had a great time. That was her first gift to me, and she made me love horse riding from the start. But one day, when we came back to the barn she acted like she had a heat stroke but actually it was the tetanos. It was my poney, so my parents let it up to me to decide either to try and cure her, or end her sufferings rapidly. This happened nearly 40 years ago, I do not know it the tetanos is easier to cure nowadays, but at the time the odds were that she would die, 90%. I knew it, my parents made it plain, and I was very aware of the fact that I might be responsible for useless sufferings for her, so it was a terrible decision to make, but I could not do elsewise than to ask that we try and cure her. Fortunately, and thank’s to a very devoted and experienced lad at the barn she recovered. She was ever stiff in the hind legs afterwards but she was lively and willing, still. And when I got too big to ride her she ended her life peacefully at one of my father friend’s place who had several horses, smaller kids and a lot of fields. So in a way it is a nice story, but it made me understand very young that when you own an animal, it depends on you absolutely, and sometimes for its very life. It is a very big responsability to keep in mind when acquiring one, and it is her second big gift to me, and also, I believe, to all the animals I had since

    1. Caroline, you brought up a great point here – we are absolutely responsible for their lives and we should always keep that in mind!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  17. A palomino foundation breed, 14.2 weighed almost 1200 pds. He was a tank. We both were raised in New Mexico. My grandfather bought as a weakling we I was 6 months old. I rode before I walked literally. I did everything on Buckshot, worked cattle, ran barrels, poles, flags, goat tying, calf roped, team roped used him as a diving board in the rio grande river. He lived to be 36, died on our ranch. He shaped my dreams, taught me patients, how to ride and far more than I can remember

    1. Buckshot sounds like he was a great partner for you Curt!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  18. My horse , America, was a big quarter horse, who was rescued from a “rescue”. A big beautiful palomino, I think sometimes these are the ones who end up in trouble because some people want them for their looks, but ultimately don’t care for them well. He had endured some pretty awful conditions, even at the so called rescue center (Callie you could write a blog about that alone I bet!) It took us 2 years to bring his health and mainly his feet up to good health. And as he got stronger and felt safer, we worked mainly on the ground. I wanted him to just be a horse. When it came to riding, he was very unpredictable, but at the same time grew to be very playful with me. I knew that as he felt better physically, he was a whole lot of horse for me, more than I had imagined. My goal was to bring him to good health and happiness which I did thanks to time and patience plus help from a great friend and trainer who gave me ideas and education for this challenging boy. My heart will always be with him.

  19. My favorite horse was Dandy Tee – a 15h 2 appaloosa that I bought as a 6 year old
    and rode till he was 33. I had had a very bad riding accident before I met Dandy.
    If it was not for this lovely horse I would have stopped riding.
    He was well trained and loved to run and explore the trails with me.It was no doubt that he always took good care of me and I trusted him completely.

  20. The very first horse I owned will always be the most special horse to me. His name is JJ, he is a pacer and I believe he did very well racing as a 5 year old. I can still remember our first ride together taking a route I had done many times with the riding school. It started out well but as soon as we were off road it soon became apparent that this was going to be a challenging ride in terms of controlling the speed of the ride. Anyway we made it back in one piece but it took me 4 months before I decided to do that same ride again on my own, by which time I had started to get to know him and built up my trust in him and he in me. I was buzzing when I got back, he had been just perfect. I have owned this beautiful horse since 2004, he was supposed to have been 12, but we later found out he was in fact 19. He has taught my friend and I so much over the years and we rode him until about a year ago when his arthritis worsened. He is now 34 and is enjoying a quiet relaxing life. He absolutely adores people, prefers them to horses and follows us around like a dog. I cannot imagine a time without him but know we have given him the very best care and life. He has taught me that spending time on the ground with your horse is invaluable. My second special horse is one I bought in 2016 as a 7 year, another pacer, a standardbred called Larry. He has taught me patience in abundance. I spent from Oct 2016 until July 2017 working with him on the ground and building up his muscle to ensure he was strong enough to carry me as a rider. He had never been off the yard where he was born so everything was new to him and he was understandably anxious at times so to start with I took him in hand on some of the shorter rides to get him out and about. We built up an incredible bond and trust during this period so when I eventually got on board he was less anxious. We slowly progressed from hacking out with another horse to hacking on our own. We had a bit of napping and quite a bit of backwards walking but never one to give up if all else failed I got off and walked with him for abit and then got back on. Eventually though I just learnt to allow him more time to check things out if he stopped and not to rush him into walking forward… He needed to work it out for himself. Like with JJ I spend time with both horses every day, only really getting to ride at the weekends but this is real quality time with no pressure. We still have a long way to go but I feel we have already come a long way too. I have no real experience of bringing a horse on but common sense, patience and firmness when appropriate seems to have paid off so far. My next aim is loading him onto a trailer so I can take him out… Interesting and exciting times ahead I hope

    1. Great goals Diana! It sounds like you two have come really far 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  21. My dream of owning my own horse finally came to fruition after 40+ years. I’m totally in love. She’s an 18 year old warmblood (Hanoverian/Thoroughbred) chestnut mare. Been a stellar mom to two and now she’s teaching me! I can’t express how much I’m learning and how much I’m loving it. She’s better than any other therapy I could get. Riding her is awesome but I love the whole package from cleaning her stall every morning to watching her run like a youngster in our field. With almost grown children of my own, I decided to start riding again. Couldn’t get enough of it. Was also in counselling and found my riding lessons and time with horses was much more therapeutic!!!!! Can honestly say having horses back in my life (and this particular mare) is the positive force I needed. Even my husband loves her and he was more scared than anything at first….she is our new baby and is just such a smart gentle soul but she is a chestnut mare so not without her own thoughts and ideas!

    1. Margot, it is amazing what use being around horses can do for our mentality! I’m glad you two have found each other 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  22. The horse that changed me was an Anglo arab gelding called George. He was supposed to be my first serious horse for deressage and jumping. He turned out to be a recently broken and gelded stallion. He had probably lived in isolation his whole life and had a lot mental and physical scars. He was way too much horse for me but he had so many physical issues there is no way I could have in all good conscious sold him, so we were stuck together. For a long time I resented him, but he was forever injured so we had to learn to get along. He lived till he was 30 which is pretty amazing given all his health issues. He taught me so much and I loved him dearly in the end. I gave up riding him very early as he was dangerous but, he taught me owning horses isn’t all about you, and that success can be something as simple as learning to tie up. I realised later George really was a gift he taught me to listen and let go of expectation and assumption.

    1. My first horse was named George! We might not be able to see it in the moment but they all do truly have a lesson to teach us!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  23. JoJo was a big quarter horse gelding that was full of energy. He was the horse I always asked for when we would go riding on the beaches in Galveston, TX. My riding skills were improved every time I rode him (he was challenging) and he was so much fun. Then we had a nice horse rental place near our house in Houston where I would go riding on the weekends. Domino was a big, gentle, eager to please Paint gelding who was blind in one eye. I always considered him “mine” because I loved him so much and always asked for him. He taught me the thrill of that special feeling of freedom and connection with a horse. I have always had a great love for horses, and each horse that I have met over the years has taught me something. I am grateful for each and every one of them. We now are blessed with five horses, each one unique and precious to me.

  24. wow – I guess I’d say I’ve learned from every horse I’ve been lucky enough to ride. Perhaps I’d say the palomino mare (Fleeta) I grew up with on my grandfather’s farm was the horse that set me off on a lifetime of loving, respecting and learning about horses. She was exceptionally patient with me, who had never been taught ANYTHING about riding. On the other hand, she tried every trick in the book, aside from bucking or rearing, to scrape me off of her!! Our favorite pastime was to ride to the top of the farm and count the cars on the train that went by. It just seems that the wandering and bonding we had was the best experience I could have had as a kid. Loved her!

  25. I’ve only ever owned 2 horses. Coquette when I was a child. She must have been abused. If you just raised your hand to scratch your head she would lose it! She frequently dumped me- if it was not on a cactus I felt blessed! There was no such thing as spook training back then. I loved her anyway.
    Wildfire has taught me much. She is so willing to please and responds well to a kind but firm approach. She requires a lot of patience as she will test the limits, but when I put her first, she does the same for me.
    Great video. I love that it was not the perfect horse that meant the most or had the most influence on you.

  26. Hi there! When I was 12 years old my dad brought me an Anglo-Arab mare. She was wild and so terrified. She had been rough broken, then put on a train and travelled thousands of kilometers. All of my fathers associates told him he was crazy, and that “that animal” would kill me!
    I called her dainty, and every day I would sit in the corner of her stable (she would not let me near her), with some oats in my pocket, and just chat away to her. We did this for around three weeks, and one day she came up to me, and sniffed out the oats! I knew that day I had her!
    Dainty and I went on to win many show championships, and she was faithful and loyal all the rest of her life. She became my best friend!

  27. I entered the arena at age 26 – and my 3rd horse Ollie (who sadly passed away at age 34, after 21 years with me – 2 years ago.). I had been free leasing him, but the owners gifted him to me, as after watching us both in lessons & competitions knew we had a special connection. I was the first ridder that didn’t tie his head to his chest or ride him in harsh bits.
    As a Pre-School teacher who was renowned for working with difficult children it transferred into my relationships with horses! Ol was my best friend and an incredible, patient horse. I just forgot to listen when caught up in the drama of lessons and competitions. Thunder (my new unbroken Brumby – who has already had his share of abuse) however, has taught me to be present and calm. He is very sensitive and explosive – the time bomb that appears calm, just waiting to explode!!!! Time and keeping away & ignoring the self proclaimed ‘experts’ and listening to my inner knowing and looking at awesome video’s such as yours, TRT & Warwick. Thank you.

    1. They all have their own lessons to teach us! How special that you and Ollie were able to spend 21 wonderful years together, I hope you and Thunder continue to grow and learn from each other.

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  28. There are two equine companions in my life that have made a powerful impact upon my life and vice versa. They both came to me as rescues. They happen to be the first equine that walked into my life and the very last companion that will I will share life with. Tobias Tyler was a shetland pony that became my truest and dearest friend during my childhood to young adult years. Together, we navigated a million miles of life in and out of the saddle. He was my rock. Ooh Gee Nah Lee ee is a mustang mare that arrived in 2011 with a 6 month old filly at her side. The relationship is the epitome of ‘who rescued whom’. We both push each other to move beyond past trauma to realize the true self hidden within. The last 8 years have been life altering mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically. The best part is that our metamorphosis is far from over! We are being challenged at present by an extraordinary trainer. A whole new level of connection is being developed between Ooh Nah and I.

  29. Thk u, Callie! I started riding @ 45 with a lifelong goal to own an Arabian & ride like the wind. I chose Endurance as my path and found a mentor thru AERC. It was time to buy a horse .. exciting .. but horse after horse there’s was no fit until that special day. A riding friend with many Arabs of her own heard about a 12 year old straight Egyptian that was going to the meat truck. she rescued him and put him to pasture. He was too angry to ride & bucked everyone off. She said and I quote, “if you can stay on him, he’s yours.” I thought ok the worst that will happen is I’ll get bucked off. He was dappled grey and my dream horse was bay with four white socks. It wasn’t love @ first site until I sat in the saddle. Magical is all I can say and we rode that day with my friends on trail for five hours. My best friend died last December at 25. We rode everywhere alone (my favorite), with friends or enduro rides. He taught me patience, the meaning of tru friendship and unconditional love. And fulfilled every dream I dreamed.

    1. I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your best friend Teresa, he is running in greener pastures I am sure!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  30. Hi Callie,
    I thoroughly enjoyed your post this week and the 3 horses that have taught you a great deal about horsemanship and life. I remember Raleigh as he was relatively new to the farm when I was fortunate enough to ride with you in PA.
    For me, I remember the first school horse that I rode. His name was Precise. He was a great horse to ride and taught me a lot as an 8-year child. Unfortunately, I had a rather bad experience on him (not due to his behavior but due to the unkind instructor) as he was not listening to me and my instructor took a crop to his face while I was on his back. I experienced rearing and managed to stay on but left the barn that day in tears and never returned. I didn’t ride again for many years. This unpleasant and still vivid experience has been one I have had to work through even to this day. I always wonder what happened to him and hope he lived a nice long life.

    I have ridden a lot of school horses over the years and believe they all taught me something about riding or about myself. My current and first horse Captain is teaching me to be firm and assertive. He has a pleasant personality and a sense of humor, both positive attributes. We are working a lot at the walk as it took a while to realize that he doesn’t really know how to really march at the walk. Hoping that in time he gets more fit and learns to engage his hind end. Riding is defintely a journey and a fun and challenging one!
    Thank you again for your weekly blog.

  31. I grew up with a love for horses, but rarely had a chance to ride. Never had a lesson, and freaked out the first time a horse did more than walk with me on its back. Still, I dreamed of one day having a horse of my own.

    Seven years ago, I met my dream horse. He was a 16 year old Arabian gelding named “J”. Beautiful, a bit wild at times, and way too much horse for a non-rider like me to attempt. My 9 year old son had just started taking riding lessons, and his trainer told him that if he worked hard enough, he could ride J one day. Two years later, my son was ready, and we started leasing J for him. They showed in flat classes, and even though some judges didn’t care for the Arabian look, they managed to do pretty well together. At one point, my son was going to be out of the country for a few weeks, and his trainer offered to let me ride J in his stead. So I started taking lessons, at the age of 49, on a horse that was much too advanced for a beginner rider. Now, four years later, my son has moved on to other things, but I am still riding at least four days a week, and last year, I bought J.

    He has taught me SO much. Patience, teamwork, determination, conquering fear, how to fall, and how to get back up again. Most of all, he taught me that you are never too old to pursue your dreams. I went from where I could barely being keep my feet in the stirrups at a trot, to a point where I can now canter him around in a bareback pad, and he has gone from a horse with a reputation for being stubborn and spooking on a regular basis, to a calm, happy, willing partner.

    1. How nice that J has been able to stay in your family! He sounds like he has been a great teacher for you 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  32. I’m lucky enough to have has some truly amazing horses. My current horse Mr McLeod has taught me more about myself than about horses. At 17hh and an Irish Bogg Hopper he had the capacity for trouble. I bought him in 2011, we had a bad start and due to family and personal circumstance he didn’t get from me what he needed. I sold him in 2013 thinking it was for the best. I was careful who I sold him to but I found him advertised as ‘difficult’ on Facebook by the same woman. I took him back and neither of us have looked back. He was confused and without an understanding of what was expected of him. I re-evaluated what I needed from him and what he needed from me. I don’t always get it right, I don’t always have time to ride, some days my riding nerves get the better of me and I won’t ride! But I hang out, graze him in hand, groom him and just be with him. I make sure I am his main carer and that he knows he can rely on me. Not going to win any prizes but we have goals and we’re getting through them. So happy to have a second chance with him. Karen (Scotland)

    1. Karen, I’m really glad to hear he came back to you. I’m sorry that both of you had to go through that experience but at least he has come home to you!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  33. I bought a 21 year old Appaloosa mare named Breeze. She was a Nez Perce Indian bred mare from Idaho, 15.3 hands, very well built and with a beautiful head and eye. I originally got her as a horse that I could take beginner riders out on the trail with me. She taught me that horses can become best friends to people. She was loyal, brave, so much fun to ride, and if I was ever emotionally upset, she would come over to me, wrap her head and neck around me and nicker softly. I nicknamed her “Momma Mare” because she had such a nurturing side. What was incredible in the fact that she gauged how she responded to a rider by their age and riding ability. She was a very large mare, yet if I put a 5 year old child up on her, she walked very slowly and carefully, sometimes stopping and turning her head to check on her passenger. Yet, an experienced rider could climb aboard and she was super responsive, handy, very forward, and ready to go anywhere. An inexperienced adult could get a slow trot out of her, and she was very careful. She was a once in a lifetime horse, and lived very healthy until the age of 34. I loved riding that horse. She was the most fun and safe horse to ride at speed that I have ever experienced.

  34. I can relate to all the comments I read. I currently have a 14.1H old fashion built Rocky Mountain Horse that I’ve had 41/2 yrs. don’t know anything of his background. He was a rescue that had multiple physical problems when I got him. Those problems are gone now but one problem remains. He is stubborn!!!!! He isn’t stubborn all the time just when asked to ride out of barn yard and going thru gates. We worked a lot on the gate thing and that has resolved. What I am doing about leaving barn yard is positive reinforcement training. It has helped tremendously if he acts scared of something we do a lot P+ training on that object. I never owned a horse like this before. He’s taught me to be creative and think outside the box. He’s so much fun to ride otherwise and he has unbelievable stamina which I love as a trail rider. Thank goodness for CRK training. I just love the way Callie teaches she explains everything so simply step by step. Love all the videos!! Wish I could train with Callie in person but since I can’t keep the videos coming.

    1. Michelle, thank you for sharing Michelle! Those types of horses can teach us so many lessons. We will keep the videos coming 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  35. I love this!! I too have/had special horses for very different reasons and hind sight makes this more clear. #1, the love of my life for many years. An early product of artificial insemination that could not be registered. He was a thoroughbred who was parked with me for a summer as an 18 month old while I was only 12. My job was to fatten him up, and mend the scars of being the low horse in a herd. Needless to say when the owner came to pick him up some months later I was devastated and pleaded for him to leave him with me. My sweet Dad gave him some money and built him a fireplace in exchange. This was probably not the smartest parental move for a novice 12 year old. Fortunately we had a great neighbor who raised Arabians and was my training mentor when it became time to start riding. This horse “Oliver”, was my best friend, my confidant through teenage years and my emotional support through my parents divorce. He was challenging and lively his entire life. We took him fox hunting at the age of 32 with my daughter riding him and at that time realized we had missed his calling….he loved it! He died here in my yard at the age of 37 from a serious head injury accident. My heart is still broken after what has now been almost twenty years.
    I have had several horses along the way, but like you, two others stand out as far as experiences and lessons learned.
    #2, Sweet “Danny Boy” an abandoned “shitland” pony that we removed from a bad situation. After rehabbing him with his many health issues, one of which was a missing eye, he became the pony that taught our daughter not only compassion but how to fall off and get back on! He had great moves. He helped all of us to be compassionate and patient and gave so much back in personality.
    #3, the most challenging for me and my current horse. Chance, adopted as a PMU baby at 5 months. He is now 18 years old and causing me to back track and fill in the basic blanks that I skipped over when he was young. He is likely the horse I will have learned the most from and it is truly an ongoing expedition. Challenging, rewarding, sometimes scary and I am not getting any younger! I do have to stop myself regularly and remember how far we have come. Even having had horses for so many years, I marvel at the fact that there will always be much more to learn, for me.
    That is my long winded story, thank you for sharing yours!

  36. My first horse was one we boarded. He was doc – quarter thoroughbred barrel gelding. I was a horse sick girl, lonely and quiet. In him I found the patience, acceptance and love that I needed. I spent every minute I could by his side. I would visit with him before school, run off the bus in the afternoon, bypass the house and go strait to the barn. I did my home work in the trough or just sitting in the middle of the corral. I’d feel a warm breath behind me and suddenly a big nose was resting on my head or my shoulder. He would walk with me, follow me, and despite his high spirited breeding- he was steady and patient. He would side up to the horse trough, I’d climb onto his back & we were partners. If I thought about going- we were on our way. He taught me that those connections are possible. Many horses & mules have come and gone though my life – and I’ve learned much for each of them- but Doc was the one that my whole heart was open to- the way only childlike/virgin hearts can trust & I’ll always be grateful for him (my first love).

  37. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. I really appreciated them. I have always been a horse lover and when I was little and didn’t have a horse of my own, i would ride our ‘Fence’ or I would find friends who had horses and would take advantage of that. It was not until I was 45 that I was able to actually buy my own horse. This was Dundee – a Zebra Red Dunn Quarter Horse. He is absolutely beautiful. He was 7 months old when I bought him from friends and I have been working with him since the day we met in 2009. He is one of the most forgiving and understanding horses I have ever worked with and his patience is golden. Anyone can ride him from 2 years old to this past spring – 79 year old. There is no an ounce of malice in him and although I have had 2 other horses since originally getting him (one that I had a very bad crash with) – he has taught me love and to take a moment and just breath and experience the ride. I bought him at a time in my life when I was dealing with my parents health issues, and working with him from the ground to the saddle provided me the ability to focus on something I could have a bit of control over and I see improvements and he has helped my broken heart heal. He whinny’s when he sees me and will come and greet me and I love him to bits. He has helped me over come my fears and he does not expect anything from me, that I can not give, and vice versa – It does not get any better than that.

  38. I had an OTTB for 22 years. He died at age 33 and a half, ridden until the end, on order of the vet, and of the horse himself. He was a hot but very sweet and kind horse. He loved trail riding and so did I , so we had ablot of fun doing that. We would go in woods and fields, sometimess getting lost but ge would always find his way home. In the 22 years that i rode him, i only fell 3 times from him, he would do everything for you to stay on if you got unbalanced. And if you ever fell he would stand right by you, lookjng at you with an expression that said ‘Come on, get back on me so we can continue having fun’. We had wild gallops as well as very relaxing trail rides. He was smart, a fast learner and always willing and loved to learn something new. He loved hugs and kisses, little kuds for whom he took small steps so theg would be ok. He loved jumping and gallopin as fast as he could, he was obedient but spirited, and very patient and foregiving I often got to the barn stressed out in a bad mood, but after having been around him for a couple of hours, my mood would always change to relaxed and happy, singjng on my way home. He was my friend, my therapy and my teacher. I have never met another horse like him. He was the best horse i ever had, and i am pretty sure i will never fjnd another o e like him. His name was Captain Rhett.

  39. I had some horses/ponies as a teenager but really didn’t know much. I had read some books, but didn’t know anyone to teach me and my parents knew nothing about horses. I was taught to “show them who’s boss”…and basically got away with that in those teenage years.
    After a 9 year absence from horses when I got married, I bought a 2 year old Arabian….my dream horse! He taught me that you do NOT “show them who’s boss”….at least not in the manner I had previously been taught! He was the horse who started me on a different path with horses.
    I have had horses again now for about 30 years…and became a farrier 21 years ago. Beau was one of my greatest teachers…and it was actually him as well, that directed me to the career I now have.

  40. There have been many, but the OTTB I am working with right now has really made me try a lot of new things in my efforts to help him.
    Paradise is an 8 year old OTTB, He was bought from the track by a pretty well known jumper trainer around here. That trainer failed to be able to work through the bucks with that handsome boy, so turned him out and sold him to another jumper trainer.

    The second trainer had the same experience, the horse was dull, no forward, bucked, but could easily clear 4’ if you could get him to go. He was once again put in pasture and then sold to my 16 year old student ( drugged for her trial ride).
    Within one week, the horse was bucking at the canter, biting, rearing, and lunging at her. He had become dangerous.
    She brought him to our barn, I proceeded to do “Focus Work” Warwick Schiller style at Liberty, because he also is a SERIOUSLY dedicated rope chewer. The horse reared high overhead many times, but not close to me, so I did not read it as a threat, so I didn’t move my feet and did nothing. Paradise was baffled. And curious.
    He also was a huge space invader, which I read as a huge desire to connect, but not knowing how to do it right. His teeth were a constant threat. I needed to keep him out of my space, out of biting distance. I waved a flag in one hand, a training stick and string in the other, he was extremely desensitized to those, and attempted to grab them with his teeth.
    When my vigorous movements finally got him to back up a step or two, he let down huge releases.
    He had a kind intelligent eye throughout everything.
    I did lots of focus work and he got better and better. Then we started longeing at liberty, running, matching steps. He LOVED that. Sometimes he would bite his knees, fetlocks and sides during the focus work if he didn’t have the rope to chew, he clearly had a reservoir of anxiety in there somewhere.
    He showed no fear except if a rope got tangled in his front legs, but we worked through that.
    Fast forward 4 months.
    I discussed him with Warwick, and he suggested riding Paradise now that the rearing and striking are gone, and he’s becoming a pretty happy reasonable fellow, and we are limited as to what we can do with a halter and lead on due to the rope chewing. Plus he has a history of being ridden.
    So I started with a bareback pad, that worked just fine. No concerns on his part.
    Then a lightweight western saddle. Watching for stress indicators was all but impossible due to the chewing on the rope, which always looks like stress to me. Cinched it up and walked him off. He looked back a little wildly and fearfully as if he had never had a saddle on before. Like a youngster’s first saddling. Humped up for a second or two but then relaxed. We walked him and let him graze and then removed the saddle.
    His owner was dumbfounded. It seemed to me that Paradise had never been given the opportunity to accept a saddle, it must have been foisted upon him. Warwick suspected Paradise was pretty shut down before we got him, warned things might get worse before they get better.
    A few days later, we put the saddle on again. This time I very lightly touched his hindquarters with my hand and Paradise exploded. Fear took over his face (I have never seen that horse afraid of anything besides the rope in his feet), he reared, bucked, I had him on line, I danced with him, trying to figure out where he was going and stay out of his way but not let him get tangled in the rope. He was being so careful even in his terror not to squish me, I was very grateful. I calmly spoke to him and stayed with him through his panic attack, and it was over in 30 adrenaline fueled seconds. We were not in a safe place, so we walked him to an open spot and I got a dressage whip with a soft tip and worked my way through very lightly touching his chest, flanks and hindquarters all of which put him back into a a state of panic. I kept at it while letting him graze until he didn’t react anymore. Then took off the saddle, let him graze some more and that was that.
    Interestingly, no rope biting during that whole time.
    The next time I saddled him, the only worry was at the flank spot. The rest was gone! I think that perhaps I stumbled upon the bottom of his cup of worry, and was able to be there for him to get through it.
    This horse is so sensitive to the handlers focus, that if we are present, he gives let downs in the form of huge yarns and if aren’t we become a chew toy.
    He has taught me to meditate with him, and trust my intuition in dealing with the most troubled horse I’ve ever come across.
    Yesterday, he scraped his leg, so I brought him up, tied him and fly sprayed him. He stood quietly. No rope biting, no moving his feet. He stood quietly for cold hosing whole grazing too. When I went to take him home, he balked. He doesn’t like to go home, but this time I just waited with him. Sharing space. Sure enough, in a minute he was ready to move on. We repeated this several times, but we got to his paddock with no negative feelings on either one of our parts.
    This horse is an amazing teacher. I thought I knew how to listen before, but he has taught me how to listen much better!

  41. There has been only one horse in my life. I came to riding late in life and as things turned out, I bought my lesson horse after leasing him for nearly a year. We had learned everything I knew together…everything! Unfortunately, things changed by our second year together. Intermittent lameness became a constant issue, so there went our lessons together. Eventually we learned that Blanco had significnt navicular changes and had shredded his DDFT’s bilaterally (deep flexor tendons). So there went our jumping aspirations. Then, even as his feet improved with therapy, I noticed some new symptoms. To make this long story shorter, we diagnosed him with HYPP (a genetic disease that leads to muscle twitching, weakness and sometimes paralysis). SIGH…so there went even the expectation of a simple hack on any given day. SO…Blanco has taught me a lot about life, expectations and living in the moment. And that doesn’t even take into account acceptance on many levels. Yet, I have found that we a a stronger team now than we ever were and I know SO much more about this horse that I finally feel able to be an advocate for his health and happiness , as well as my own. We still ride, but there are days that I need to walk off symptoms of his HYPP. His feet are MUCH better now (shoes are GONE and he’s had a year of growing in new hoof capsules). My jumping saddle is gone, and I am content. I still miss cross country, but I’m OK with just a good hack on the trails too.
    SO..make lemonade if you have to and enjoy the ride!!!!!! 🙂

    1. Brooks, I’m really sorry to hear about Blanco but it is a reality that we sometimes have to face…that things happen and we have to change our expectations accordingly.

      Thank you for sharing!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  42. My, my. My current, Savannah, has changed my life. She is my greatest teacher. A 16-year old Quarterhorse/Thoroughbred cross and has quite a bit of beautiful spirit! At some times during our training, she is a challenge, but I am a better person for figuring out ways to address it. Groundwork is a big part of time spent together, as she tends to be prone to spooking. That being said, somedays she and I hack out on the trail and she is very calm. As you said Callie, about one of your horses, you have to be patient to be with the horse that shows up! She and I have been on a journey, always with her best interests first. She has had ulcers, several pull-back issues which led to head-shaking episodes, cranial sacral therapy and red light therapy to treat the head-shaking, all-in-all educating me through and through!! Our relationship is definitely worth it!

  43. The 1 horse so far that has changed my life is Edmund (Ed). He is 1/4 Percheron 3/4 quarter horse. He is not mine I just take lessons on him, but we are like 2 peas in a pod. Ed has helped me so much when I would be having a bad day I would just go to him and just talk to him. Even if he couldn’t understand what I was saying. For riding he has helped me a lot to. If I am doing something wrong I would walk till I would fix it. Now I only get to ride him once a month, but we still have our connection. He would just let me lay on him and not move. There were sometimes where he would just fall asleep standing with me laying on him.

  44. What a great video and a powerful reminder of the special bond we have with horses. I can definitely relate to the impact that certain horses have had on my life as well. I particularly liked how you highlighted the importance of patience, understanding and connection in building a relationship with a horse. One thing I would like to add, is the use of equine calmer. It can be helpful when working with challenging horses and can help reduce stress and anxiety, which can lead to a more positive and productive relationship with the horse. It’s amazing how these magnificent creatures can shape us and change us for the better, and I’m grateful for the horses that have made an impact on my life.

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