When I was 16, I had a dream come true. On Mothers Day that year, we were at the regional show at Frying Pan Park, Vrginia. The horse show was part of the Eastern Amateur Arabian Horse Show Circuit. We arrived with a four-horse stock trailer with three horses, including the gray mare I was showing, Silver Run Sahsha.
The show had a big event: a purebred Arabian filly was being raffled during lunch. To support the club, Mom and Ed bought two tickets at $1 each. She was a cute filly, small, but very personable. During lunch, she kicked the handler as she was brought into the ring. She was was not malicious: she simply didn’t know what was going on.
When the name was drawn and the winner was announced, I couldn’t believe it. Mom was the winner! I was thrilled! My stepfather was not.
It’s hard to describe what it is like to win a horse, especially when you’ve always wanted to train a horse and be able to show. Do all of the training yourself and come home with a ribbon or two (it doesn’t matter what place the ribbon is either).
The filly’s name was One More Nite, Omni for short. When we got her home, I claimed her and gave her a nickname of Prize. She became my buddy. She was so willing to try things. We grew up together. I have almost as many stories with her as I do with Isis.
As a greenbroke three year old, with barely three months under saddle, we went to a horseback medieval combat practise session. We went swimming in a river bareback, handled a large flag, trotted next to a row of people in full plate mail clanging swords… And she loved it. She didn’t spook at all.
Eventually, we did barrel racing, dressage, side-saddle, bareback, hunt seat, trail riding, jumping… We could do anything together. Not necessarily very well, but we could try it. She was wonderful. My little fearless mare.
When I graduated from college, I moved to North Carolina and couldn’t wait to bring my girl out. It was scary: I was in my first job and I had never had to support a horse on my own. I always had Mom’s farm to fall back on. With Mom over six hours away, that safety net was removed.
When you first get out into the world, few of us are lucky to have experience in managing finances. I didn’t and I got in to financial trouble. I couldn’t afford to pay my bills. My phone was disconnected. There were several close, painful deaths in my family, including my Dad and my several grandparents. I couldn’t keep track of everything.
I lost the one thing most important to me in the world: My horse. I had to sell her to pay for back board. I was devastated. I cried myself to sleep over it. I was incredibly embarassed about it. This is the first time I’ve talked about what happened publicly. Ever. It’s been over 10 years.
When I signed over Prize’s papers, I wrote a letter explaining how I had trained her, what her bloodlines were, and the story of how I got her. I also wrote a poem, that was never sent with that letter, expressing how I felt. I had lost her through my own mismanagement. I swore that would never happen again.
Losing Prize was a key event in my life: I learned the hardest lesson possible. This experience shaped me so I became obsessive about my horse having the best possible care and always having enough funds to make sure the horses have whatever they need.
About two years after I lost Prize, Isis was born. I’ve had her all her life. If there are problems with her training, they are my fault. I have been blessed to always be able to support her.
When I moved Isis out here last fall, it was like a flashback to moving Prize out all over again. What if I didn’t succeed this time? What if history repeated itself? I decided it would not. It was a painful year between moving, keeping up the place in Tennessee until it sold, and trying to juggle very tight finances.
The second the house sold, Isis was out here. And, so far, we’ve managed to do more things in the past few months than we ever did in Tennessee. It’s been wonderful having her here. We’re right where we need to be and we’re doing fine.
Isis will be 16 this spring. I fuss over her, pamper her, and have been blessed with her in my life. She is a completely different horse than Prize, but wonderful and dear to me. I don’t know what I would do if I lost Isis.