I grew up devouring all horse stories, loving especially the ones about the horse nobody could ride or the one nobody wanted. There was something about horses that always sparked that buried treasure excitement, that recognizing something special. But it wasn’t until I was forty-five that I could afford a horse and really learn how to ride like the girls in the books. Thirteen years later I don’t ride like the girls in the books, but I have found my buried treasure with the help of a trainer who knows that the best horse is the one who is doing a job it likes and tries.
Ferdi came to our barn like many other horses, there to be assessed by Shauna. She didn’t have a selling barn, but people knew Shauna could find a good horse out of a field or the track or a sour situation and tell them how to aim their sale. Ferdi was a thoroughbred with royal blood: AP Indy and Miss Lodi – bred in Kentucky. Obviously, he disappointed and was sent on. He didn’t do well eventing and was sent to Shauna to see if he was a hunter. She loved him and he was tried at another hunter barn but came back after colicking several times. And there I was, looking for a new horse without much money. He was green and I was (am) an oldish lady with limited skills, but he liked me! I jumped him a little bit and Shauna took us out in the orchards to see if he could trail. Like an old quarter horse, instead of a six-year-old racehorse! I bought him without getting off.
After a year, Ferdi has never disappointed. When I bring him into a fence dangerously, he stops carefully, “lowers me gently” down his neck and waits patiently for me to get back on and try to do it right. He never, ever holds a grudge. The judges who like thoroughbreds in the hunter ring love him because he is flashy and lively and just plain gorgeous! But what I love best about my boy is that we can go anywhere: loping in the field, cross country, crowded show rings, and lemon orchards. And he takes care of me. Another thing I love is that he likes me the best, better than Shauna and the other girls who occasionally exercise him for me. To me that is what makes a champion – a horse who has found the right job with the right partner. Lucky, lucky me.