"Hunter pace this weekend?" The text flashed across my cell phone screen.
"No :( " I replied "I have barn tours"
"Hunter show next weekend?"
Reply: "IHSA show :)"
"You're killing me. dressage show nov 1st?"
I started to type "No way...we cant--" when I looked up to to horse trotting circles around me. I was in the middle of the indoor arena and E was working Johnny through some cavaletti exercises. When I first got Johnny, my orginally goal (as had once been with Emmy) was to make him a low level event horse. Eventing was something I had grown up doing. Even when Emmy and I made the transition to hunters after a scary stadium crash, I still rode with an event trainer. It had seemed to fit Johnny well. He was by no means a fancy mover...but he was level headed, smart and almost never tapped the rails on the jumps. He would never be tight enough with his front end to be competitive in the hunters, but he was definetly a safe and servicable enough jumper to play around in the Beginner Novice divisions for a summer. Not to mention that he wasn't afraid of anything (a trait that I ESPECIALLY adored after showing everything's-going-to-eat-me Emmy for 7 years.)
Those had been the goals at least. I worked all summer developing his jump form, teaching him to be quicker, smarter and more aware of his legs. We schooled on the neighbors property over fallen trees and log piles, I put together "gates" from old scraps of wood. I spent so much time riding him that I never really knew exactly what we looked like together until a friend of mine came one day with a camera to help work Johnny through a grid combination.
It wasn't until I saw that pictures that I thought maybe I had been wrong about eventing. Not only was Johnny getting his knees up now, but they were tight and square and he was "wearing the bridle" like it was his job. He had a beautiful soft facial expression over the jumps with his ears perked forward as if he would like nothing better that to spend all day flying through the air. When I brought him to college, he jumped right into his new training program with vigor and enthusiasm. His topline began to come together, this paces evened out and grew steadier. The horse that I had put into the "eventing because he's not pretty enough to be a hunter" category was starting to prove me wrong, so when I my best friend asked me if we wanted to show dressage, my first thought was "No way! The judge will laugh at us." Besides, Johnny had never even done a dressage test.
And as I stood there watching E ride, I realized that there were a lot of things in life that Johnny had also never done. When I got him, he had never been ridden. He had never cantered, he had never jumped, he had never been clipped or shown or had his mane pulled and braided...
Who was I to say that this horse could and couldn't do?
I hit the clear button on my phone and backspaced.
"Pick us up?"