Unicorns might actually exist.
They may not fart rainbows. They might not sparkle. They may not have a pointy horn.
But they might exist.
Last year my trainer added a light palomino to her lesson horse line-up. Cassian was under muscled at the time and seemed like just an average horse. He wasn’t used to riding in a program so he was introduced gradually and mentally “quit” about 30 minutes into the lessons.
I took the winter off. I hate riding in the winter. I hate the cold. I hate being cold. I hate feeling like my toes were falling off.
When I returned to riding in spring I began riding Cassian. He had completely transformed! He looked his size. He muscled up. Our first ride he decided that certain objects were “spooky” and spooked for the fun of it.
I know that game. Thank you, Blade.
Once Cassian realized he couldn’t get away with those games with me he worked very nicely. So nicely that my trainer asked if I’d be interested in showing him in next year’s show season. I’ve never shown before but if I can find affordable field boots I’m in.
I look forward to seeing this horse every week and we have a pretty good thing going. He LOVES to jump. We recently worked on gymnastics and the picture you see is the third in a line of 5.
Trot into Bounce, 1-Stride to Oxer, 1 Stride to Bounce
Cassian lends me the wings I lack. His body and spirit are exactly what I love most in a horse. He and I just get each other. I love how relaxed this horse can be with me and how he licks and chews after we “do a thing.”
SIDENOTE: I have not met a horse I truly didn’t like; especially with Emily’s line-up. All of her horses are so well cared for. Every single horse has something to teach you. Every single horse will challenge you in a different way. Getting experience with as many horses as possible makes you the best rider you can be.
But this horse is even more special.
My trainer invited me to do some cross country schooling on him recently with a small group of other students. I have never ridden cross country before. Being the adventurous “try everything” person I am I took the day off and last Sunday a small group of us loaded the horses and drove to Plumbrook Pony Farm. As it turns out the farm is only about 15 minutes from my home.
When we arrived the three of us riders were instructed by Miranda, the owner of the farm. We warmed up in her arena while she learned more about us, our riding level, and the horses. I really appreciated how encouraging and easy going she was. She made me feel completely at ease even doing something totally new. I really admired how she was able to explain everything in a way that made it all click. I also loved how we divided things up into bite-sized pieces. We didn’t to a course, we did successive sections.
We moved out of the arena to a large grassy section and got the horses used to the changing sun/shade spots. We walked through taller grass to accustom the horses to the different footing. I never realized how different the sun and shade could appear to the horses until recently with Blade…but the difference was even more noticeable with Cassian.
We moved to a beautifully groomed field with a few smaller log jumps. We practiced over these. We practiced over the brushy logs.
We continued to move on to the woods. We began with a small jump leading to an uphill trail with another jump halfway up.
Cassian really lit up for all of this. He’s so brave. He got excited. I got excited.
We then tried something totally new. I was pretty nervous about it but really wanted to try it. Cassian was being amazing so I knew he could do it.
We began low and cantered toward an incline. At the top of the incline was a jump. Not a huge one but to get up the hill and over we needed some thrust. I stayed with Cassian for most of this. We even landed it. Miranda told me that we made a good leap and I stayed with him through it until the end. At the top however I got left behind and he got extremely amped at doing “the fun thing.” He tossed his head, I lost my balance. I almost stayed on. I could have stayed on. But we were in the woods and I had a flashback from Autumn Colors, New Experiences, is That a Tree?. That’s when I lost my balance for good and slid down the side of him. He took off galloping and ended up coming back. I talked him down and got him back, but it was terrifying to see him running free through the woods.
I was completely unharmed and itching to get back on. I really wanted to try taking the jump again and could have but I sissied out. I wanted to show myself I can do it but something inside told me not to push it on this particular day.
Admittedly because the two of us were so amped I was doing a lot more than we usually do at home in the ring. We fed off each other’s excitement and to rein him back I got in his way a lot.
We had done a lot at this point and we were all tired. On our way back toward the barn we decided to try one more thing. The step. We began by stepping up at a walk and then tried at the trot. At this point Cassian and I did well but I was getting in his way a lot. He got super pumped and wanted to jump the step. I was exhausted and failed to ride after the step, which he sensed and took advantage of.
We turned around and stepped down. We did a few successful passes and ended the lesson there.
Something I may have left out is that I work overnight shifts. I had worked Friday and Saturday nights 6pm-6am. In order to feed my horses at home I wake up around 3:30pm so I have enough time to feed and get cleaned up for work.
We were to meet at the farm at 8am Sunday and get to the farm for our riding to begin at 10am. We rode for about 90 minutes (maybe 2 hours? I don’t remember). He got the horses back, unloaded them, cleaned the trailer. It was 2pm when I left the farm to come home. I took a shower and was in bed by 4:30pm. I was up for at least 25 hours.
I was exhausted.
I took Sunday night off and spent that evening and the following day taking three 4 hour naps to recover and get enough rest for Monday night’s work.
Cassian is amazing. I have him to thank. For being strong, bold, and brave. For forgiving me when I make a goof. For loving his job and putting everything he has into his work.
I have Emily to thank. For having such amazing horses. For encouraging me to try new things and for taking me on these adventures. For trusting me to ride her horses the best I can and caring for her horses the way I do.
I have Miranda to thank. For opening her farm to us. For being compassionate and easy-going. For explaining everything clearly and helping me make sense of everything.
I have found my unicorn. He may not be mine but he’s still a unicorn to me.
Have you found yours?