When you have a horse in your life for any length of time, the partnership is sure to evolve as you both grow and mature. This week, Jumper Nation writer Gillian Warner discusses just that.
Am I the only one who celebrates my horse’s birthday?
Even my non-horsey friends are used to it at this point, sending ‘happy birthday’ texts to my horse Erin the morning of, liking my Instagram post, and even helping me bake a (horse friendly) cake. I can’t help it though! For a horse that means so much to me, I want her day to be special.
Erin’s turning 22 this month, and I can hardly believe it. In the 13 years we’ve shared together, we’ve gone through ups and downs, as every horse/rider partnerships do. On her back, I’ve grown from a 9 year old kid galloping around bareback with limited control to a 21 year old galloping around bareback with (only slightly more) control.
Thankful for a friend who keeps me smiling through every adventure. Photo courtesy of Gillian Warner.
A fellow rider at the farm commented on our partnership the other day, stating how nice it must be to have such a solid friend over the years.
From middle school drama, to competition nerves, to rehabbing injuries, transitioning to college, preparing for post-graduation plans, and researching how to best care for an aging horse, my partnership with Erin has been a rock for me, my inspiration to work with horses, and my encouragement when things get tough. It’s also sometimes been a large contributor to my stress and anxiety because I am always striving to do my best by her.
My favorite place to be. Photo courtesy of Gillian Warner.
While our presence in each other’s lives has remained constant over time, our relationship has changed over the years, as we face new challenges and overcome unexpected obstacles.
When our partnership first started, I had to work to figure out the new ride: moving up from a pony, it was difficult to stay with Erin’s larger stride and forward thinking attitude. Luckily, with Erin’s forgiving and patient nature, she supported my growth and developed my confidence to continue.
Years later, when arthritis from an old injury caught up to her, we worked together to transition from a career as eventers to a dressage-oriented schedule (while still finding ways to get out of the sandbox, of course).
Last year, she was diagnosed with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (or Cushing’s disease), so I dove into endless research to determine the best nutrition, training, and maintenance plan possible for her.
Throughout the years, we have found ways to face uncertainty together.
It is daunting, to face the unknown. But knowing she’s by my side makes it manageable. We always figure it out. There is strength in our partnership, and strength in the team around us (of wonderfully supportive family, friends, barn managers, vets, farriers, and more) that help to keep both of us happy and healthy for the long-haul.
As we move into the new chapter of our partnership, I will celebrate this next milestone as we always do, with a special treat for her and a birthday trail ride. I’ll be celebrating her, but also our journey throughout the years, and the journey still to come.