I think every equestrian has that one horse who comes into their life and changes everything. When I was a sophomore in high school I decided to sell my horse. I was a competitive swimmer and at the time I didn’t have the time to dedicate to both swimming and riding, so I chose swimming. I’ll never regret that decision because I loved high school swimming and think it was the best choice for me at the time. 2 years after graduation and deciding not to swim in college, I decided to start riding again. I found a local barn and a horse that I was able to lease. I love my lease horse but he was older and wasn’t “mine”. I wanted my own horse again. I started looking around but being a broke college student, my budget was pretty small. I received a phone call from a contact that they had found a thoroughbred gelding at an auction that was “too pretty to let go” but they didn’t have the space for him. All she asked was to pay their gas to get him from South Dakota to Nebraska. Not know what I was getting myself into, I agreed.
Rowdy arrived on a sunny day at the end of May. He was skinny, under muscled, and un-groomed but I fell in love with him instantly. I still remember him stepping off the trailer like it was yesterday. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him.
When I got rowdy I had been back to riding for less than a year and wasn’t taking regular lessons. I thought I knew what I was doing but I had no idea what it really took to re-start an OTTB. Looking back I definitely bit off more than I could chew. Rowdy was young, sensitive, and had terrible manners. I had to keep a chain on him anytime I was leading him and didn’t canter him for 6 months. There were times I was sure I was going to get hurt and time I wondered what I was doing with this horse I could hardly ride.
After a year Rowdy and I moved to a local Hunter/Jumper barn with a trainer. I started taking lessons with the trainer and had her ride Rowdy a few times as well. Having someone help through the “baby thoroughbred” moments made all the difference in the world. I started to lesson and clinic regularly and once I understood better how to help him we clicked and Rowdy started to become the horse I had envisioned.
In January on 2015 I was offered a job as a working student/assistant trainer at Bannockburn Farm, a breeding and training farm, working for Robert Mendoza. Rowdy and I packed up and moved 12 hours from home to Indiana. When I arrived at the farm, I thought I knew how to ride, I quickly realized that I had a lot to learn. In the two years I worked for Robert, I learned more than I could have ever imagined. From starting 2 year olds, long lining, teaching the 4 year olds to jump, to experiencing horse shows at the Kentucky horse park and Ocala. Taking that risk and moving to the farm was the best choice I ever made.
After almost 2 years on the farm, I decided that it was time for me to move home and get a “real” job. I still own Rowdy and he is now teaching another college student to ride (she has it a little easier than I did) and I have another OTTB in for training.
I promised Rowdy years ago that he has his forever home with me. He is my heart horse, my baby. I still can’t believe that the horse I can hop on bareback in a halter and take through the field is the same horse that I was terrified of 6 years ago.