My First Horse

I’ve been riding horses for more than twenty years, since I was about four years old, and I didn’t end up owning my own horse until I was seventeen. When I went off to college, the training program I went into required each student to have a horse to work with, whether it be owned by the student or leased. I ended up buying one, and she taught me a lot about what it means to be a good rider and a good horsewoman.

My mom and I took a trip out west specifically to look for horses and to see the school, so I did a lot of my horse-shopping online. The horse that I purchased in 2011 for that program was a six-year-old black and white registered Paint mare named Jasmine. She was a beautiful horse with a great coat pattern and good conformation. When I first went to look at her, she did seem antsy but she performed pretty well for me in the small arena that her owners had. For the most part, Jasmine was quiet and good under saddle. My intention was to eventually use her for barrel racing on the rodeo team at school. There was another horse that I was extremely interested in at the time, but I ended up being unable to look at it because its owner never got back to me so I decided to go with Jasmine. Since I lived so far away, she was kept with her previous owners until the school year started.

A couple of months later it was time to pick her up, and things were much different. As soon as we took her away from her herd, she started throwing a temper tantrum. Lots of circles, lots of whinnying, all of the things you don’t want to see when you’ve just bought your first horse. She gave no indication that she was the relatively quiet horse that I had seen earlier that summer, and she fussed all the way into the trailer. This was just the beginning of a long series of issues with this horse.

When I got her to school she started causing trouble right away. Jasmine started off being completely disrespectful of personal space. She was overly pushy and hard to manage, not to mention all of the bucking that she did on the end of the lunge line. After the first couple of weeks, I decided to ride her, and as you can imagine that didn’t go so well. She threw me off so hard that I smacked the inside of my leg on the saddle horn and hit the ground. Using her for riding class was incredibly difficult because we trailered to an arena not far from us but she was so herd bound that she didn’t deal well with leaving the property. In November of 2011, not long before Thanksgiving, I was taking Jasmine out of her pen to put her on the trailer for class, and when I turned around to close the gate behind us she whipped around and kicked me in the back. She got me about two inches to the right of my spine on my lower back, which ended up affecting my right hip to this very day. I did get her on the trailer that day, and I even rode her for class.

I spent the next six months trying to work with her every day to sort out our problems. She would rear every time I took her out of her pen, she tried to roll on me when I rode her, and she would slam my legs into fences as we were riding. It got to the point where no one else would go near her anymore because she was considered dangerous. I contacted multiple trainers all over the state and no one was willing to work with her after I described what was going on. I began to feel hopeless; my confidence as a rider and as a learning trainer was faltering heavily.

After a time, my instructor deemed Jasmine too dangerous to come to class with the other horses so I had to look for other options. I rode my instructor’s horse for a little while and as much as he was sweet, we didn’t have a good connection as horse and rider, mostly because my confidence was shot. This is when I started looking for a new horse, and I ended up finding Moose (that’s a whole other story, coming soon).

What I didn’t see at the time was how much Jasmine was teaching me. Not only did she teach me a boatload about handling difficult horses on the ground, but she also taught me how to keep my seat deep and my leg on to prevent falling off. She taught me how to ride a buck and a rear, and she definitely taught me how to avoid getting hurt. Most importantly, Jasmine taught me patience. She was, to this day, the most difficult horse I have ever had the pleasure of working with. In spite of her flaws, she was my first horse and I loved her.

I ended up selling her for a pittance to the family member of a friend who decided to keep her as a pasture ornament and as a buddy for her other horses. I was promised that she would not be sold again after this transaction which was a big concern for me because I didn’t want her to end up in an abusive situation or at a kill auction. As far as I know, she’s still out there somewhere causing trouble. She would be fourteen years old now, and I genuinely hope that she is happy. The day that they came to pick her up, I cried when the trailer pulled out. You’d think that I would be happy to see her go; I had a fresh start with a new horse and I was finally able to ride consistently, but I was disappointed in myself for giving up on her. At the time, I didn’t have any other options.

One mistake I made when purchasing Jasmine is that I never did a vet check; she never ended up with health problems, but it would’ve given me another opportunity to see how she would act and you should always do a vet check on a horse you’re purchasing anyway. The second mistake I made was that I didn't bring a trainer with me to evaluate her; it would've been well worth the money! The lesson to take away from this would be to take a trainer with you when you look at horses to buy. If I had had someone with more experience than seventeen-year-old me, they probably would’ve recognized the warning signs the first time we met her. Fortunately, it ended up working out for both me and Jasmine.

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