I feel like people are either born inherently lucky, or not.
Now I am not talking about the big things like money and work etc. I am talking about the small things.
You’re either the person who gets hit in the head by a stray ball at the park or you’re the person standing next to them going “holy crap, that was close” (insert internal laughing).
I can say with absolute certainty I am the person who gets hit by the ball.
I like to think it is part of my unique charm.
It goes hand in hand with my inability to walk through a doorway without bouncing off one side. Like I said – charming.
Where I have been incredibly lucky though, is in the people who support my love of riding. I do not come from an overly wealthy family with money to spend endlessly on the perfect horse, many lessons and gear. My mum is a single parent who tried her best to avoid indulging my desperate desires of horse ownership with the odd lesson until my Great Uncle Henry had to disperse the family Thoroughbred stud and wanted me to have the last one (which was a terrible idea).
Sucked in, Mother!
Naturally, my involvement with the young racehorse ended in a spectacular display of failure, but it introduced me to some amazing people. To avoid being bucked off every five seconds I would run away to strap for my instructor when she went eventing.
And I fell in love.
I fell in love with the sport, with the horses and with the atmosphere. Just everything about it.
At the tender age of 14 I had no idea how I was going to be a part of it with my bronco young horse and a crippling fear of *actually* riding due to my regularly unscheduled dismounts. All I knew was that I wanted to.
After a particularly nasty fall my instructor had seen quite enough of me climb on and fly off (it has in fact, been as quick as a mount followed by aerial dismount with that horse at times), and told me she didn’t want to see me ride that horse again.
More importantly she did something not many instructors will do, and advocated on my behalf to my mother that I should not ride him anymore. Not a small feat as my mother was convinced the sun shone out of this horse’s rear end (don’t ask why).
Note: Small segue here as I know quite a few professionals probably wouldn’t have gone to bat for their pupil like this, at risk of gaining a bad reputation etc. but I honestly believe that this instructor saved my life.
My mother, not wanting to part with the horse and not having the financial means to buy another one said if I wouldn’t ride him, than I wouldn’t be riding anything. Cue instant distress and tears in the wee 14 year old me.
What is life?
It was a few months before my instructor came back to my mother and said she could free lease me one of her old eventers for a few months before she went into foal. She was turning 14, a Thoroughbred mare that had competed at 1* level and she was as safe as houses.
She was also the best thing that ever happened to me.
To sum up a long story, the few months lease extended to a few years, and eventually we bought her. She took a scared young girl and taught her to jump (probably too high for my skill level due to taking advantage of her honesty).
We traveled all around Victoria and competed in interschool and EA competitions across dressage, show jumping and eventing disciplines. Our success found me being captain of the school Equestrian Team in year 12 (yikes!) and they are some of my best memories. She even traveled to NSW with me when I moved interstate for University.
She was retired home when she injured herself at 18 and lived her life out on the farm my Mum eventually bought. She was the easiest horse to own (unless you wanted to rug her and expect it to stay in one piece overnight), and she kept me safe every day.
Saying goodbye to her remains the hardest thing I have ever done.
All the horses I owned after her had big shoes to fill. Some managed to carve out their own spot in my heart, others not so much. After the emotional destruction left by Des and Snitzel I took some time off before looking for a new horse.
Up went the wanted ad with my meager budget (thank you Snitzel and related vet bills), and much to my surprise, I was inundated with horses. Whilst there were some I expressed a bit of interest in, the biggest shock came in the form of a message from my old instructor.
She had a 1* mare she was no longer campaigning, would I be interested?
It felt like history repeating, and I was almost too stunned to type back an answer.
The horse was back in Victoria, but I was heading home for Easter with a friend the next week, and as fate would have it – we would be returning home to NSW with the float she was picking up from home. Could it really be that easy?
Apparently, it could.
So, Evie the 8 year old WB mare came home with me that same day.
Pray for her.
Just like that my situation had done a complete 180 degree spin and left me on my ass. Not only did I have a horse to ride again (and much sooner than expected) but she was ready to compete and I wouldn’t need to break her or school her before finally getting the chance to do what I love again.
When I look back, I feel like this all taught me a few things.
First of all, sometimes things can fall apart and allow something better to fall into place. Secondly, don’t be afraid to ask for help – I put out a wanted ad (or 10) over Facebook and that’s how my old instructor knew I was looking for another horse. Third, there are some amazing people out there who will help you when you’re at rock bottom. Things have a funny way of working themselves out if you let them.
And finally, when it counts, I am truly lucky.