When I was fourteen, I decided I wanted to move away from dressage and jumping and instead show paint horses, because that's what my best friend, Sara was doing at the time. We sold Sly (I cried SO hard when he left)and my parents and I started looking for a new horse. Nothing felt right until Flame.
We actually drove to Utah to look at a different horse, but he ended up being too short for me (I'm 5'8, he was 15 or 15.1hh). The trainer just happened to have another horse for sale, too, but she was a lot greener. She had placed in the top ten at the APHA World Show in 2 year old Hunter Under Saddle in 1999, and was three, coming four. I was smitten the moment I laid eyes on her. She had the longest, thickest flaxen forelock, cute face markings and the kindest eyes. We bought her--rather impulsively, I might add.... do you see a theme?-- that same day and brought her home.
We showed on the APHA circuit that year with little success. She was green, I was still learning to ride western, and we did not have good training and guidance. By the end of the year, I was riding her in draw reins almost exclusively (ick!) and she was unhappy. We both were. She started rearing (totally unlike herself) and I knew it was time for a change. I ended up quitting that barn and moving Flame to my old riding instructor's place.
For the next few years, we played around with dressage and jumping, trying to undo a lot of the mess that was created by our previous training. Flame was a very sweet horse, but she definitely had an opinion and let you know if she didn't agree with something! Typical redhead, I suppose ;)
Flame and I went through a lot together, and came out stronger because of it. She taught me a lot about riding, and about how close of a relationship you can have with a horse. It about killed me to sell her, but when I started college I just didn't have the time to devote to her.
I haven't had a horse since.... until now :)
Tomorrow, Aimee and I leave for a weekend of horse-intensive fun in western WA. In less than 24 hours I will have met my Penny Lane for the first time!!!! Ahhhh!!!!!