Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Friend Princess- Part 2

If you didnt read the first half of this story please check out this link My Friend Princess.

I finished off that post with this question: "So which is more important to me- the bond or the ride?"

The question might sound simple but at it's root it is probably the most fundamental question you could ask a horseman- Why do you have horses? For sport, recreation, as pets or all of the above?

I have never been so unsure of my own answer as I am now. In the past I valued, above all else, the bond. I was raised on books and movies like The Black Stallion, My Friend Flicka (hence the title "My Friend Princess"), Sylvester and Wild Hearts Cant Be Broken wherein the bond between horse and rider created a near mythical ability to overcome all obstacles, against all odds. As a child I didnt pin horse calendars on my wall, draw horses all over my binder, or run around a field on my invisible pony because I dreamed of being a champion barrel racer, show jumper or real-life cowgirl. I dreamed that I would have a horse so amazing, a horse to whom I was so profoundly connected, a horse that was so completely devoted and willing to work only for me that together we could do anything including becoming a champion barrel racer, show jumper and real-life cowgirl. I believed in the bond.

For the better part of the time I've owned Princess I've been hung up on the issue that her and I dont have that special connection, that I just dont feel "it". Dont get me wrong, I really did have a soft spot in my heart for Princess, she is a hard mare not to love but it wasnt that... that... you know? That thing?

Princess is a bit like dating that guy who is funny, smart, good looking, great to be around and dangit if he doesnt treats you like gold to boot. He is a great guy.... but....he sure the hell aint that tall slim nameless cowboy with the dark roaming eyes and smooth drawl you two-stepped with all night long that time at the Vermillion Fair. Sure that cowboy might float the ol'boat but he sure as shit isn't going to be there in the morning. As my good friend Barbie once said, "A cowboy is only good for one thing- the weekend." Almost all the horses I've owned in the past ten years have been cowboys... they swept me off my feet only to dump me on my ass... left me with nothing but a few short memories, a nasty hangover and a suspicious rash. *ehem* sorry, got a little carried away with that purely hypothetical analogy there.

Princess is that good ol'boy who smart girls marry.

I'm not going to lie, in the past I've not been a very smart girl.

But I like to think I'm a little older... and wiser...

So I make a decision. I decided to keep Princess. I let go of that whole notion that I needed an organic spiritual connection. I thought I was giving something up. But instead I discovered something that will forever change the way I relate to my horses.

It isnt romantic.

It isn't magic.

It isn't clandestine.

It is simple- mutual respect and trust.

Over the past few months Princess and I have developed one of the best relationships I've ever had with a horse and it continues to grow with every ride. It doesn't make my heart pound or my blood come fast. But it is, nonetheless, deeply satisfying.

I started writing this post because I wanted to put down in to words the evolution of my relationship with Princess. I wanted to remember this time and share it with anyone who might be also be trying to find a balance between the dream of a horse like Flicka and the reality of a horse like Princess.

There is more to come next post on what happened once I tried to win my mare's mind instead of her heart.


  1. Sometimes mares can be that way - they seem to have their own fully developed personalities and can be self-contained - does that make any sense? Building a bond with a mare can take a lot longer but result in a great relationship.

    Glad you kept her - she's definitely a keeper!

  2. Oh my...reading all this is making me teary. :) I totally get what you're talking about and the whole cowboy analogy just about made me hork coffee out of my nose. So thanks for that! ;) This is all very encouraging though. And really, that cowboy thing was a bit of a forehead smack moment for me because I do look for the sweep me off my feet kind of ponies.

  3. You know when I picked Dee she was totally not the heart horse. She was the "safe" choice. She was broke. She was experienced. But I can't say she made my heart go pitter patter. Big plain and bay. I'd say it's really only been in the last few months that that has really started to change. It took a long time for us to really start getting comfortable with each other and to build the trust that leads to the bond. I can now say she is my heart horse in every way.

    You picked a good one. These are the horses that win us over in the long term. Great post.

  4. I like to think cowboys make great window shopping but crappy purchases! :) As someone who had the opportunity to ride as a child (started at 5), I've had that mythical bond. The one where you and the horse seem to think as one. I also dreamed of many different championships - pending where my interests lay at that moment in time.

    What I've discovered as an adult is that it's very challenging building the same type of relationship. I don't spend as much time with my horses. I don't have the patience I once had to work on things over ridiculous periods of time. I find the older I get, the simpler I want things to be. I don't want "projects" anymore. I want fun and uncomplicated.

    I've thought about the horses I've picked in the past. Generally I choose horses that I can help be better or that can teach me things (event specific). So I guess I must be a more goal oriented rider/horseman. lol

    Best wishes on your journey.

  5. You know, Chelsea, sometimes the good guys need to win. Princess is your good guy.

  6. Wonderful post Chelsea! I really appreciated it! I've been fortunate in my life to have that special relationship and a great athlete with nearly all my horses. Then 3 years ago I fell hard for a romantic, fairy tale horse... who doesn't fit my lifestyle, and is now for sale. I hate to let him go because he makes my heart pound, but because he didn't fit the program, I actually never made that amazing connection with him, though we did become very close. So I guess there are three categories: a breathtaking horse that isn't right for you, a horse that is right for you but doesn't make your heart pound, and then... your soul mate horse. love your blog!

  7. Love your blog. I'm glad you chose Princess! It took me a year to find my first horse, Itchy. I was 19 and knew my choice would be for life. Itchy was 6 and a complete Wingnut! My ridding instructor at the time said i was crazy, Itchy's Sire had a screw loose, get rid of her. (ummm not a chance)
    She was the best thing in my life and i took care of her for the next 21 years. I was lucky that she loved' me. When you find the connection you keep it!

    Looking forward to more pics of that medicine hat.

  8. Wow. The timing for this post is perfect for me. I have 3 horses whom my family would like me to sell because I have had a very injury-prone summer. At the moment, I need 2 canes to walk and it is extremely painful because I came off of my mare (again) last Friday.
    So I have been asking this question of myself. Is it the bond? Or what you can DO with your horse that matters? Is it right for me to sell them? Or should I keep them even if I never ride again. They are relatively new to me. I've only had them a few months. But I really love these horses.
    Thanks for a great post!