In this excerpt from SmartPak’s blog, Riley O’Neal writes about waiting for each of her horses to choose her.
I’ve had quite a few horses in my life and I believe that most of them chose me. My first pony Dolly was meant for my cousin, but he wasn’t interested in horses and Dolly didn’t seem to care much for him. I loved Dolly though and she always knickered when she saw me and would paw at her stall door. My aunt and uncle gifted her to me, if I took care of her whenever I visited, which was every chance I got to be honest.
I spent all my time at my uncle’s house with my dad learning to groom her, ride her, lunge her. She was my heart. I was little so my dad helped me clean her stall and groom her where I couldn’t reach, but she was all mine. I loved trying to hug her when she was in the cross ties and giving her carrots after a ride. Dolly was a typical stubborn but intelligent pony and she made me so mad on some days, but my love for her never changed. I remember on days it was too hot to ride in the summer, I would bring my Barbie and her horse out to the barn and play with them outside of Dolly’s stall.
My dad always said that Dolly picked me to be her person and that made me feel extra special. Dolly picked ME! I couldn’t ask for more from her. She taught me patience, persistence and consistency. She made me realize there was more to the world than myself. My parents were divorced so my uncle’s farm was the place I got to see my dad and having him teach me how to love and care for Dolly kept our relationship strong too.
I loved the days spent on the farm with him and Dolly. He would tell me stories about horses he grew up with and other childhood memories while walking next to me and Dolly. Eventually I grew out of Dolly and into horses, but I loved her until the day we put her to sleep. I never stopped taking care of her and spending time with her. She was my heart horse.
I never was one that wanted the expensive, perfectly trained horse with the great bloodlines. I always went to auctions and waited for them to choose me. I would look into their eyes and see if I felt a connection or saw a sign from the horse. Maybe a nicker or a soft eye would tell me that they wanted to come home with me. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t. I’ve rescued some challenging horses in my time, and I loved each of them deeply.
One of my rescues that stands out (though all were special) with me is Shania, who had trust and abandonment and food issues, but when I looked into her eyes, I knew she was meant to be with me. We discovered she couldn’t be on alfalfa as it made her hot and agitated. She had to be on special grain and worked harder than my other horses, but she was a doll when things were balanced out.
Each time I was able to overcome a roadblock with my horses I would remember my dad’s words; that they chose me to be their person. I took the fact that they chose me very seriously. I promised each one of them that they would be safe as long as they lived as they were with me now.
To read the complete blog, click here.