Why’d we buy a horse?

I sold my last horse in 2011. Well, actually, I gave her to a former student who I trusted to love her and care for her as I did.
And she did. Splendidly.

Would you believe this mare is 30 years old? (private photo)

I was honestly quite uninterested in ever owning horses again.
They’re so much work.
They’re so much responsibility.
I’d done my time with them and really thought I was off to other things, especially when I had my first baby.

Still, I played with ideas of taking riding lessons or introducing my kids to horses. Horses have so much to teach you if you’re paying attention. Noticing. Listening. I fully credit horses with teaching me responsibility (what little I learned I surely learned from horses) (my husband prudently decided not to comment on this) and giving me a happier, more wholesome youth. And, of course, every time I see a horse my head still turns.

I guess the love never dies. For a true horsewoman, the horse is part of your soul and your soul is part horse. Horse spirit calls to you.

For a true horsewoman, the horse is part of your soul and your soul is part horse.

I never stopped looking at horses. I dare any horse lover to deny that she’ll spend hours on the internet looking at pretty pony pictures. And that’s what I did.

Now, I came up in the Arabian industry and I have a deep love for the breed; however, I’ve loved hairy cobs since I first saw one. Then came the movie Into the West (1994), which will always and forever have a place in my Top 5 Movies list. Although Into the West is about two kids and a mystical hunter/jumper type, it is chock full of hairy, adorable cobs. What’s more, the movie portrays them fairly honestly in what is, more or less, their “native” environment- among travellers. To this day, Into the West still fuels my horsey dreams.

Gypsy Gold was one of my earliest stops along my Gypsy journey. Dennis Thompson styles himself, and is credited as being, the first importer of Gypsy Vanners to the United States. He and his late wife clearly have a good eye and keen horse sense, as well as good business sense. I very much admire their work and I love their horses.

I began to branch out and search for other Gypsy Vanner horses in the US, and specifically near me. That is how I came across WestCelt Gypsy and Heidi, Chroicoragh, and Keira.

blogger-image-229425524(image credit: WestCelt Gypsy)

When my Big Girl was just about a year old I emailed Heidi and asked her if we might come out to see her horses. Keira and Chroi had captured my heart and I wanted to meet them. I knew, too, that Keira was for sale and oh how I dreamed of being able to buy her.
But with a new baby it just didn’t seem wise to not only spend tons of money on a horse but also to give myself yet another thing to care for and give my time and attention to. I had terrible postpartum depression at the time and wouldn’t admit it to save my life. I was drowning. I was a little crazy and a lot OCD. It was a weird, tense, anxiety-ridden time.
Still, I wanted to meet these two dream horses. Maybe a way would appear. Maybe we could make it work. Maybe this was my lifeline.
But a way didn’t appear, we didn’t make it work, and I said goodbye to Keira, Chroi, and Heidi that day feeling grateful and happy that I’d gotten to spend time with so much loveliness, and feeling sad but also quite at peace with the idea of the “horses” chapter of my life coming to a close.

Or so I thought.

So many things can change.

Not too long later I saw Heidi post that Keira had been sold, and I felt the all-to-familiar feeling of hindsight karate-chopping my heart to pieces. Oh sure I knew it was entirely unrealistic to think that my family could afford- both financially and emotionally- to support a horse. Or was it?
When you wait around for all of the “conditions” to be “right,” you can be waiting forever.
I should have found a way to make things work. I should have at least tried. Right?

When you wait around for all of the “conditions” to be “right,” you can be waiting forever.

Everything happens for a reason.

I put my feelings aside and life went on. Baby #2 came along. Husband’s work was going well. Things were good. Occasionally I found myself browsing gorgeous horse pics on the internet, and always coming back to Gypsies. Heidi’s website was quiet for a while so I stopped visiting and tried to put Keira out of my mind. Then one day my curiosity got the better of me and I checked in on Heidi’s page.
And there was Heidi’s announcement that Chroi was for sale. And I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I couldn’t risk making the same mistake twice.

First there was a lot of soul-searching, and then a lot of talking started happening. My husband was already more or less on board with the idea of having a horse in the family, when the time was right. I always imagined that the “right” time would be when the girls were a bit older and, honestly, a bit more…shall we say…receptive to following directions. But what do you do when the timing is wrong but the opportunity seems so very right?
I was scared to even consider the thought that having Chroi could be a possibility. I didn’t say a single thing about it to my husband, but I know that the jig was up the moment I tried to “casually” ask him if he’d mind if I went for a visit to see Chroi.
He knows me pretty damn well.

Oh look honey, a gorgeous horse that I just so happen to absolutely ADORE is available for sale! 

I finally came clean and said that I wanted to see her one last time, to see how I felt. I was either going to say goodbye and find closure, or I was going to come back to him and start a discussion about how to make the whole horse thing work.

Well, I think you know by now how that all turned out. I arrived at Heidi’s place, took one look at Chroi, and just about started to cry. So we took the proverbial plunge. Now we sit back and enjoy the trip down this rabbit hole named Chroicoragh.

When the timing is wrong but everything else is right

So what did this decision-making process look like? Really what it came down to, for me, was the idea that when something takes you by the heart the most wonderful thing in the world is to be able to embrace it, to welcome it home. If something means so much to you that you feel like you’ve gone from greyscale to Technicolor the bottom line is this: you fight for it. Plus, there was something that Heidi said one day when we were brushing Chroi together. I don’t remember exactly what it was (even though I have a photograph in my memory of the moment she said it), but the way I integrated it into my heart was “Say YES to the things that make you happy.” Why not?

Why not?
Because I needed another physical and financial responsibility like I needed a hole in my head
Because I felt that my girls needed to be older before I tried to introduce them to horses (read: old enough to understand and obey when I tell them not to go behind a horse, run around the barn, approach an aggressive horse, etc).
Because horses are about the most ridiculous financial venture imaginable (read: expensive with pretty much zero capital returns),
and, mostly,
Because my husband lost his job the week I learned Chroi was for sale.

…when something takes you by the heart the most wonderful thing in the world is to be able to embrace it, to welcome it home.

I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. Rock: I couldn’t bear to see Chroi go to anyone else. Hard place: asking my husband, and my family, to bear the financial, mental, emotional, time-consuming consequences of a big, expensive “hobby.”
I have visions of raising my kids around horses. I have bigger visions of raising horses, training horses, and opening up other people to the things horses can teach. But “vision” only goes as far as the commitment, discipline, and work ethic of the visionary. The big question was: Do I have what it takes?
But in all honesty, the biggest question one should ask oneself when approaching the threshold of a dream is:

Am I going to do what it takes?

…the biggest question one should ask oneself when approaching the threshold of a dream is:

Am I going to do what it takes?

The only person who can answer that question is oneself. My answer was: I want Chroi. I’m going to ask for this, I’m going to choose YES; and with the stakes being so high I said to myself, you bet your ass you’re going to do what it takes. Because I won’t ask this of my family and then render it all null and void a few months or even a few years down the road when the honeymoon is over.

The thing is, I can envision “a few years down the road” and it looks like love.

(above: Chroi arrives at her new home. Personal photo)

To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Categories: Chroicoragh, dreams, Life of YES, Life with a Unicorn, Living YES, The Horsey Life, Unicorn

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