Dream Horse

June 7, 2024
Cara ad Fiona hug

One thing you should know about me is that I’m a big fan of Carl Hester. I love his training program and philosophy, that he lets his horses be horses and that he’s such a positive advocate for the art and sport of dressage. 

In February of 2018, just a few months before I earned the last score for my Gold Medal, I got the opportunity to venture down to Wellington to watch Carl’s masterclass in person. 

I was star struck, motivated and disappointed, all in one fell swoop. 

Being star struck and motivated didn’t surprise me. It was being disappointed that did. But why was I disappointed? I realized that I have what it takes to ride amongst those in Wellington. The problem though, was that I didn’t have the horse. I had a barn FULL of my own horses, 11, at the time. Mostly Arabians, a few Thoroughbreds, a Pinto…but no warmbloods. 

I hemmed and hawed about it for a few days and vented my frustration to my dad. “I’ve thought you needed a warmblood for 15 years.” My dad proclaimed. I’m sure he had said that to me at some point down the line, but I am stubborn and tenacious. I was going to prove that my halter bred Arabian stallion could do “it”. Only I had never been to Wellington before and never saw such caliber of horses in real life. While Steele could certainly do “it” (Grand Prix) doing “‘it” on a warmblood, a horse that’s bred for it, is a completely different ball of wax.

The night before my 33rd birthday I posted an ‘in search of’ ad on a dressage group on Facebook. I must have received upwards of 300 messages over night. I spent my entire birthday searching through messages and ads of fillies for sale. 

And then I saw her and my life changed forever. 

I halted my search. I planned a pre-purchase exam and a shipper.

As soon as the purchase was final, I made an excited post on Facebook. While I have owned several horses, this is the first horse that I ever bought for myself. Isn’t that crazy?! To be a professional and own a bunch of horses, but I never had the opportunity to buy myself my dream horse. 

Fiona arrived just a week and a half after the sale was final. She was 3.5 years old, only had a handful of rides under her belt and I was quickly incredibly aware of how lucky I was to call myself her person. 

My excitement quickly became clouded by my clients. While some were excited for me, others were infuriated because I would not let their 8 year old beginner rider daughter on MY personal, untrained baby horse. The nastiness, hands on hips and down right entitlement blew my mind and broke my heart. 

Was I not allowed to have anything special for myself? I wasn’t even required to provide people with horses to ride in the first place, but I did. And I have safe, well behaved, well trained and well cared for school horses. 

This was really the beginning of the end for me. I said “goodbye” to a few clients and then coasted along in business as I focused my mental efforts on getting Fiona acclimated to Florida and Steele’s upcoming Grand Prix debut. 

More coming soon…

Cara

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