In the spring of 2012, right before my husband and I got married, we started hanging out with a friend and her sister at the sister’s training facility. We rode their horses, shared laughs and relished being back in the saddle, however infrequent.
After our May wedding in the Midwest, my husband and I stopped for breakfast with an old ranch friend in Greybull, Wyoming. (Yes, we drove to our wedding venue, dogs and wedding dress and décor in tow. But that is a story for another time.) After breakfast we headed to a western shop directly across from the diner. In that store I found a pair of pink Ariat boots just my size. I had no reason to own them. I only rode once a month, if I was lucky, and the boots were not cheap. But I bought them anyway. Having no idea how I might use them, but having a yearning within me to put them to work.
We continued to ride casually at the trainer’s place. I fell for a little black bay who seemed sweet and mellow. They told me he was for sale. I politely thanked them and declined. We had no business buying a horse. We couldn’t afford him anyway.
The horse trainer’s husband was in a terrible riding accident that year and all of the sale horses went on clearance. The trainer made sure to remind me of his deep discount. My new husband and I entertained the idea of buying him, but we still couldn’t reason it out. We just got married. It wasn’t time to own a horse. We declined again.
That little black-bay had a woman interested in him, so he headed off on a 6 hour trailer ride for a 3 day trial with the potential buyer. Before he left, I kissed his nose and told him to be naughty. I wanted him to come back to me.
My dear friend, fearing this sale was in the bag, tried to distract me with other horses. She told me to think about if I might be interested in other possible sale horses in the barn. I knew I should brace my heart for a loss, but I could not be swayed. I wasn’t interested in the other horses. It seemed if I couldn’t own him, I didn’t want another horse, though I couldn’t really imagine how owning a horse would fit in my life.
The 3 day trial did not lead to a sale. The trainer was displeased. I was elated. My sweet little horse came back to the barn, back to me. I found out he wasn’t naughty, as I had instructed him, but instead the woman changed her mind about buying a horse altogether.
For a third time, the trainer told me of his sale price, of his great qualities, of how I could own him. Like honey poured in my ear, I heard a fantasy I wanted to live. I wanted to own a horse since childhood, and this one seemed to be standing directly in my path.
I called my husband and told him that Gangster didn’t sell and he was back in the barn, I emphasized that his price remained lowered. My husband sighed. He knew what was meant to be. What we could not explain with logic. He told me to negotiate the sale.
I truly believe some things are meant to be. The path is written out for us, we just have to take the steps toward it. I had no reason to buy those pink boots. Buying them defied logic, I had no reason to own them. The boots definitely defied my budget. But I bought them anyway. And they walked me toward horse ownership and coming to be one half of a complex partnership.
Gangster challenges me; he challenged what I thought I could do. There is never a dull day working with him. He is the teammate who you rise up to meet, and I am a better rider, a better horse-woman for him. I don’t know what stars aligned to pick me as his keeper, but I consider myself mighty lucky. I’ve thanked those trainers multiple times for providing me with this gift who gives his heart to me each day.
No matter my workday, my emotional state, my motivation, just smelling his sweet and dusty neck brings me closer to God, or the universe, or some higher power. The connection that you can have with an animal may be even more transcendent than that with another person, because all of your communication is non-verbal. Your relationship, your rapport, depends on your ability to communicate and understand one another using sight, sound, touch, but never a conversation. Perhaps that’s not true. The conversation is there, the dialog is just more complex, given there is very little shared vocabulary outside of a couple clucks, some kissing and a whoa.
Whatever gift is set in your path, whatever seems to repeatedly present itself as an opportunity, take a step toward it, no matter your fear. You may not understand the drive, or the point, or how it will work out, but I believe what is meant to be, will be. We just need to take steps toward the thing. Whatever the thing is.
The trainers responsible for this sale are the same trainers I wrote about in my post Why Horse Trainers Are Horrible People Who I Can’t Live Without. If you haven’t read it, do it. Now. They are evil. And my blog post on them is hilarious.