Thursday, November 10, 2011

8 years

November 8th was my birthday and the 8-year anniversary of when Royal really became mine. What a crazy time it's been, full of ups, down, zig-zags, and flip-flops. I've posted before about how I found Royal and of our first tumultuous year together, and I think it's fair to say that I sort of rescued him. He would never have made a safe camp horse, and the farm where I bought him has seen been raided by the MN Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation. It's still in operation, but on a tight leash, I think. But the reality is much more than that.

The truth is, we saved each other.

The year before I met Royal was the toughest of my life. My friends turned on me, and I was being bullied in my small private school. I was depressed and suicidal, even trying to figure out the best way and place to kill myself. No one would care, I figured. I thought my family would just go on and no one would miss me. All I had to do was do it.

There was one problem: I hadn't owned a horse. The only thing that kept me alive that year was that I had not completed my life goal of owning my very own horse, and I wasn't going to let myself die before that happened. Whenever things go too bad, I just thought of that horse. I didn't know what it would look like, but it existed in my mind and that was enough to keep me going.

After seventh grade, I changed schools and my parents said the money that would have gone towards tuition would instead go toward leasing a horse. I decided on the barn that had been my favorite horse camp, and that's where I was introduced to Royal. I knew from the start that he was a problem project horse, and I think that was actually just what I needed. Something more important than all my emotional angst and needed my help. Royal once crawled out of a 3'x1' trailer escape door... and followed me right back into the trailer 10 minutes later. Soon after starting to work with him, I was the only one he would let near his hindquarters. He trusted me more than any other human.

Of course, that wasn't saying much, as the post above illustrates. But there was something about him that made me think he was worth it, and I still think that. He tries so hard and has a genuineness about him. I remember our first bareback rides where he had to figure out how to move so I wouldn't get all bounced around. He shortened his normally huge stride and gave me his best western pleasure trot. We've learned how to watch out for and take care of each other, especially while jumping. Our performance at Steepleview was the culmination of everything we've done, and I've never felt so happy as when we flew over that last cross-country jump. We did that together and nothing can take that from us.

I've been so privileged to have him in my life, and I can't imagine life without him.

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