This Old Horse

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I haven’t ridden in almost a month due to a summer sojourn back east and other various summer activities. This October I’m hoping to ride in the Grass Ridge Horse Trials in the Beginner Novice division. Now, while I’m neither a beginner or a novice rider, really, I haven’t jumped over 2’6″ regularly since I sold my old thoroughbred Nigel before moving to Tucson, AZ from Jacksonville, FL. Plus, both of us – the horse and me – are out of shape. He has an excuse, however; I do not.

This old horse I ride is twenty-four years old. Leo, formerly Feliks, was born the year I graduated from high school – 1988. He was born in Nebraska and raced only once at a two year old. His Jockey Club papers only say “finished” – no placing. That he wasn’t a speed prospect comes as no surprise. He is a very “chill” kind of guy. I’ve never seen him perturbed by anything. Alert -yes. Upset – no. Apparently, he was like this from the beginning. His first owner off the track, Heidi Young, was in college then, looking for a prospect to ride in the hunters. She loved his movement and his kind eye and brought him home to Colorado. He was coming three at the time. He was always ready to please, she remembers. He learned fast.

And he remembers all his lessons. Today, Leo is sound and happy. He could do any number of competitive disciplines competently and competitively. Last October, we were reserve champion in the modified adults (2’3 – 2’6″) at the Annual Tucson Hunter-Jumper Show (THJA). He is a lovely mover and was second in the hack. I’ve never had the opportunity to ride regularly a horse that is so broke on the flat, so getting a top ribbon in the hack was a first for me.  I was on Cloud 9 that day.

Leo Reserve Champion

Leo and I – Reserve Champion 2011 THJA Show

The competitive nature of this horse always stuns me. Leo is always up to the task whether it’s a gallop in the wash, negotiating a bank on cross-country, or putting in an ever-smooth hunter round.

Leo THJA 2

Leo and I – THJA 2011

I love the above picture because, a) it shows how enthusiastic he is about is job, and b) it doesn’t show my craptastic position.

Thanks to Leo’s owner, Nancy, I have the privilege and the pleasure of riding this horse. He is a once-in-a-lifetime horse. He is so drop-dead “made” – a horsey expression that basically means he knows the ropes. I could give Malcolm, my disabled son, a pony ride, take my non-horsey sister on a trail ride, and show him all in the same week. He keeps my heart and soul afloat.

Leo & Lindsay getting ready for a wash ride

I love him so much.

Leo Kisses

The Best

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