2014 was one of the most challenging and exciting years in my equestrian career. I wrote a little 2014 recap on my Instagram and wasn't really planning on doing one on here, but I guess I could because I could be more thorough.
Almost a year ago to this day was one of the hardest days I've ever had concerning Dante. I was in Hawaii, and I had Dante leased out 3 days a week to a young girl. I had told my trainer "NO jumping" for Dante. I had already retired him from showing and taking lessons with me because he was relatively lame from his arthritis and had bad knees. Leasing him out to a young girl seemed to be a perfect alternative for him: keep him in shape and he gets to do light flat work. Perfect. It didn't go the way that I thought it would. First of all, he was only supposed to be ridden for 3 days a week, but I found out while I was gone that the girl was riding him behind my back 4-5 days a week. She also decided to do a winter horse camp with him while I was in Hawaii, one that involved jumping. She didn't ask me, and I would have never known. However, somebody else who had watched her lessons had recorded her jumping Dante and posted the video on Instagram. So here I am 1,000 miles away in Hawaii, sitting on my bed, about to get up and ready for a beautiful day with my family, and I see this video of my beloved horse trotting (head-bobbing lamely) up to a jump. I sobbed. I probably screamed in anger too. How could my trainer of 8 years do this to me? I texted the girl that had been leasing him (it wasn't her fault, it's not like she knew/my trainer was the one really responsible) and she told me that my trainer had told her it was okay because she had been feeding him bute for the past week. I honestly don't know how or why I didn't fly home from Hawaii that instant and move my horse far, far away. I was so livid. Not only that, but at that barn Dante had been struggling with his weight for years. Feeding a lame, skinny horse, a NSAID without the owners permission? Pretty sure that's not legal. I then texted my trainers daughter (who is about 30 and helps run the place) and she completely denied that they had been feeding Dante bute. However, I had 3 friends who had been there at different times throughout the week when they did, and they told me so. I told her I wanted to end the lease because I would be moving barns, and she argued with me that Dante wasn't lame anymore, and that I should come watch him when I got home from Hawaii because his lameness was completely gone. Right. Because arthritis isn't progressive and just goes away. Sure. I came home and watched him, and he looked exactly the same, lame. So I had to end the lease and decided to move him away from his home of 6 years and my home of 8 years.
Also while I was in Hawaii, I got an email from Brandi from MoonRock Ranch, asking if I would be interested in coming out to MRR to work with Boomer. When I got home from Hawaii, my mom and I met Brandi and I started going out to MRR 2 nights a week to do chores and play with Boomer. I learned the basics of natural horsemanship and met some of the best friends I have!
On January 31st, 2014 Dante and I moved to Elverta Boarding Stables, where Sunny lives. It was cheaper and they took much better care of the horses. Dante gained 200lbs within the first 3 months of living there. He looked phenomenal and seemed so much happier. They also had a big grassy turnout and a indoor arena, which the other barn lacked. I swear he even got more sound out there!
I was also interning at Tammy McDonald Training January-May and was riding 3 days a week out there. I rode arabs and quarter horses and green broke horses. Everything. So much fun. Zetta was offered to me in the beginning of March, and after a lot of consideration (and with the fact that my sister said she really wanted a horse and would help with Zetta), my dad decided to get her for us. Zetta moved right next door to Dante in April. That was one of the best days of my life. The two most amazing horses I've ever met living right next to each other, and me owning both of them.
The summer started off amazing. I was out at the barn with Dante and Zetta all the time, and I got to go to the California Horse Expo with all the MRR girls. I was riding Dante bareback throughout the week at odd hours of the day. We watched what seemed like a million sunsets together. But then my sister got extremely disinterested in coming out to the barn, even though her and Zetta had been getting along really well. I started struggling with my time because I was working 5 days a week and preparing for college, wanting to spend as much time with Dante as possible, and then had my green baby Zetta who also needed a lot of time. I would try to get my sister to come out with me to the barn and she would say things like "Well how long are you going to be out there?....2 hours? That's way too long." or "It's too early and I don't feel like it." My dad started to get restless about money. "Why do I have 2 horses if I only have 1 daughter that's interested?" I was in an interesting spot because at this point I wasn't planning on Dante coming to college with me. Once I went to visit the UC Davis Equestrian Center and decided that Dante would be coming with me, my dad was set on getting rid of Zetta. He got really nasty with me at times and told me if I didn't do it, then he would. I was in a pretty terrible situation and my best friend was my saving grace. She owns a 4 year old Arabian gelding from Tammy's that Zetta and I used to always ride with, and she offered to take Zetta for me and keep her up at her house on her property. The best scenario possible right? Right, but it didn't make it any easier. I thought I would be okay, but it was rough. The day she was scheduled to move, I went out to the barn and got her stuff ready, spent some time with her, groomed her, and I felt pretty okay about the whole situation. I was going to have Dante with me at school, and that made it all worth it. When Rachel got there with her trailer, I was okay, and when I handed Zetta over, I was okay. But when Zetta started rocking the trailer back and forth and hollering like crazy I couldn't handle it. Dante started running around and getting upset, which also upset me. They were both crying and that made me fall apart. Zetta was so scared in the trailer, and I climbed up on the side of it and put my hand on her nose between her nostrils as I cried and she calmed down for a few seconds. But as soon as I got down, she started crying and kicking again. I felt like it was straight out of the movie Flicka, I just needed to cue the rain. After she left, I sat with Dante for an hour and cried.
Our summer brightened up after that, I was hanging out with Dante and riding him all the time. I was also spending a decent amount of time out with Boomer. In August, I had heard about a working student position at Rollison Ranch and decided to email the trainer, Kim Rollison, to see if I could come out for a few months and work to ride. She emailed me back and had me come out to meet her. I told her I would only be able to work out there for 2 months because of me moving to school in the end of September, and she told me that it probably wouldn't work out then, because she doesn't take people if they can't work at least 6 months or more. I told her I understood but would appreciate it. She thought about it for a little while, and then told me she would take me. I started working at Rollison Ranch on Monday and Wednesday nights and started taking lessons weekly out there. I rode a horse named Meg and fell in love with her. I make her a little hot when I ride her, but I really enjoy her and I think that we could make a pretty good team. At the end of the summer when I finished at Rollison, Kim asked me where I had been the past 5 years and said I was welcome back anytime. She also said if I work next summer, I can take Meg to horse shows with them and not pay any hauling or coaching fees. I'm so excited. Hopefully that works out.
At the end of summer Dante also moved to UC Davis. Another awesome day for us. It's such a beautiful facility and I'm so lucky to be there.
When school started, I joined the UC Davis Hunter/Jumper Team which is awesome, and I got to show at Stanford University. I won 2nd place.
About 3 weeks into my first quarter of college, Dante fractured his stifle. There was quite a bit of time where we didn't know what the future held, and on one of the worst nights I've ever had after receiving the news that his leg was broken, I sat with him for 3 hours and cried. I felt so alone. It has always kind of just been me and Dante.. and if I would have lost him I don't know what I would have done. Thank God, his sonograms went well and he has just been recovering ever since then. He's getting stronger on it, and I think within the next couple weeks I'm going to put a saddle on his back again.
Here I am on winter break, and I got to take a lesson on Meg, play with Boomer and visit MRR, visit my best friend and ride Zetta, and I even have gotten to ride Sunny 2 times. 2014 brought so many amazing horses into my life. I guess my goal for 2015 is to get back on my favorite horse though. That's the plan.