DAY 99. Like in horseraces, the finish line is in sight and we’re down to the wire. Tonight was a comedy of errors with a freezing bath in the dark that left Solar in a pretty grumpy frame of mind. So much for a final ride practice! I tried to make it up to him with some treats and warm blankets; let’s hope for a return to his happy self when I meet him at the barn at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning.
Trying to pack a trailer and clean tack and organize lunches (for horse and rider) and all the hundreds of things that have to get done before a horse show plum wore me out. And all this after a day at regular work. However, the business of the evening gave me some time to myself to end this journey where it started, just a girl and a horse.
I picked Solar up from his home at Oak Crest in Enumclaw, WA by myself on June 28, 2013. As the miles ticked by on the drive up I wondered what I had gotten myself into, and what would come of the next 100-days. And of course I wondered about the horse himself, who I’d only seen in a 30 second video clip.
Every time I meet a new horse it’s exciting. I just can’t shake that little girl in me who grew up in a non-horsey family, wishing, hoping, and dreaming about getting to meet and ride all the pretty horses someday. It is thrilling to get to know new horses and discover their unique personalities and talents. And I always hope with horses I take on for training that we can create a relationship we both enjoy.
I was beyond lucky with Solar. I liked him instantly, and he seemed to be ok with me too. From the get go, he was willing to work with me, despite obvious confusion. It didn’t take long to realize that even though he had a lot of work to do to get balanced, confident, and coordinated, he was a tryer, a do-gooder, and a fun horse to be around. He greeted me in the field. I rode him bareback. I taught him silly tricks. We went to shows (and it was fun to be with him in public; a real local celebrity!). We challenged ourselves. And we genuinely had fun. I treated Solar like I treat my own horses, and I’m thrilled with the relationship we were able to develop in a relatively short timeframe.
This evening I felt a deep sense of well-being knowing that tomorrow no matter how disorganized or tired I feel, we get to go have a fun time with a lot of other people who love ex-racehorses and care about our success. I also felt joyful because a very important chapter has closed in Solar’s life, and a new one is starting for him.
I’m extremely pleased to announce that Solar has found his next owner. After the show on Saturday Solar will return to Oak Crest to prepare for a trip across the country. He’ll be traveling to his new home in Ohio, where he will live with his new owner, Mary.
Mary connected with my work in the 100-Day Trainer Challenge thanks to my friend, Sharon, who has known me since I was a kid through a shared love of Haflinger horses. Mary was looking for a Thoroughbred, as her own ex-racehorse Macao is now retired from riding. Macao raced a whopping 66 times before Mary relieved her from the track as a six-year-old many years ago. While certainly it’s not possible to replace her mare, Mary was ready to find her next partner. It just so happened that she found Solar!
Mary, a member of the Northern Ohio Dressage Association, has plans to continue Solar’s training in dressage. In fact, she told me that a long-term goal she has is to someday join the Century Club by riding in dressage competition when she is 81 and Solar is 20. When I heard that goal I knew this would be a long-term, endearing home for Solar. Mary, a retired veterinarian, also would like participate in all-around activities like trail riding, traveling, and maybe even a bit of jumping with Solar. I’m very confident that Solar will be extremely well-cared for. He’ll also be enjoyed, and he’ll have a purpose. I think Mary and Solar have a bright future together. I can’t wait to see them out and about together, albeit from afar.
Many congratulations to Mary and Solar, and to the Prodigious Fund for generating such interest through their program. How cool that folks across the country are thinking and talking about the 100-Day Trainer Challenge horses!
Looking forward to seeing some of you tomorrow at the Thoroughbred and half-Thoroughbred horse show and 100-Day Trainer Challenge finale at Donida Farm in Auburn, WA!