I was raised riding sale barn horses, off the track race horses, and back yard breeding accidents. Aside from my very first horse, an 18 year old + thoroughbred named Cracker Jack, I hadn’t ridden a well trained horse…..until a year ago when I bought my mare Jo. It sounds strange to people I’m sure to hear me say I haven’t ridden well broke horses in my 20 + years of riding. But its completely true.
I remember like it was yesterday the day my best friend, Amber, and her grandma (my adopted grandma) Sherry and myself met Jo. I had been scouting sale ads for weeks looking for my next partner. Amber found her, I believe it was on craigslist. She sent me a text with a picture of a big grey aqha mare. Seeing her in person made me believe in love at first sight. She was beautiful! She had great confirmation, an intelligent eye, and her movements were like silk. Her previous owner whom I’ll call A rode her beautifully. I could tell they had a strong bond, and fluid communication.
A worked her from walk to trot to canter, loped circles, performed a sliding stop, and spun circles left and right. I could tell A loved this horse, she was very quiet and even. She handed me Jo’s reigns when I asked if I could ride her. A of course handed the reigns over, but I could tell it was hard for her to do. In that moment I saw longing and hurt in her eyes as she looked on with Jos reigns in my hands. She loved this horse to her core, and I couldn’t bring myself to ask her why she was selling her.
I climbed into a beautiful trail saddle and set off on a walk with the big grey mare. I knew the moment my rear hit the saddle that Jo was coming home to the HK Bar. I slowly worked up to cantering circles. Jo was a beautiful mover, and what was this? She worked off of leg pressure? She side passed? She spun? Flying lead changes? I have to admit, I was sloppy in the saddle, and Jo got a bit annoyed with me. For the first time in my life I felt the feel of a well trained horse.
How could I have ridden 20. + years and not ridden a horse as well broke as this?! I’ll tell you why, its because I was raised by a single mother whom struggled to support my horse habit. I rode whatever we could afford. And another reason was because my (adopted) Grandma Sherry was a horse visionary with a penchant and soft place in her heart for off the track thoroughbreds. I was raised riding horses that sometimes only knew how to bite the bit and run like hell.
After a short ride I offered A a few hundred dollars less than what she was asking. As I look back now I feel guilty and ashamed for even trying to get A to lower her price on Jo. I knew she was worth well more than what she was asking. I said I’d love to have Jo, and went to my truck to count out crisp hundred dollar bills.
Amber, Grandma, and I left the stable with smiles on our faces. All we could talk about over our lunch of Mexican food and margaritas was what a horse Jo was. We celebrated that day.
Amber mentioned A was going through a divorce. I don’t know if A told Amber this outright or not. Amber has a canny sense of people and her surroundings. She is very intuitive. I admire that about her. But as she made this statement I found myself doubling over with a stabbing pain in my gut. I now understood the sadness and longing look in A’s eyes when she saw me with our Jo.
Yes, even now I say “our Jo” . Even though A knows Jo as “Jalo”. She will forever be our girl because I know how much A still loves this horse. I have kept in contact with her through texts over the past year. I send pictures and updates of our girl to A.
I want A to know how much our girl is loved. I want her to know our girl is cared for, protected, and cherished.
Every horse that I have had the privilege of riding has touched my life in some way, and has taught me something. I will always remember Jo as the first well broke horse I have ever ridden. I will always remember her as my dream horse come true.
I thank A for sharing our girl with me. For allowing me to part of Jos life. I know a part of A’s heart left with Jo when I took our girl home. I want A to know how much she has touched my life through our girl.
From the HK Bar to the world, may you one day be blessed to ride a well broke horse…..even if it takes 20 years…..
Jo and I on the day of her homecoming to the HK Bar