This November will mark 10 years since we moved Chelsea to her current home north of Oshawa. 10 YEARS! I’m telling you, when you’re growing up and your parents tell you cherish moments because time flies faster the older you get…they’re right! I really can’t believe it’s already been 10 years. So much has changed with me as a whole, my life and my attitude towards riding.
Thinking back now, I’ve only taken Chelsea to 2 horse shows since we moved out this way and believe it or not, in a big way, I don’t really miss it. When I graduated high school, I was so sure that my riding career would simply continue on as it was and I would break into the GTA show scene that first summer after my first year of University. Life happened though and things just didn’t really work out that way. I had to grow up and growing up means taking responsibility for yourself and the things you wanted to do. As a student, I couldn’t afford to show Chelsea, so I didn’t! Simple as that.
Over the years, my focus has gradually veered from the intense show mentality to the actual wanting to ride for fun and fitness. I’ve learned to really enjoy the fact that I have Chelsea and have just really concentrated on our relationship as a whole.
On December 30, 2008 Chelsea choked for the first time and then it happened again November 28, 2011. Those close calls, combined with the fact that I suffered from chronic hives for most of 2011 have really changed the way I view my relationship with Chelsea and riding as a whole. Honestly, I really think that I took horse ownership for granted simply due to the fact that I’ve been riding regularly since I was 10 years old and I’ve almost always had a horse waiting for me any time I wanted to ride. After that first scare with Chelsea, I really realized that it was time to really cherish her and enjoy every moment I spent on her back. Now, it’s not that I didn’t cherish her or enjoy her before – not at all. I think that scare finally made me realize that I’m really not going to have her forever and that I should really enjoy her to the fullest.
The summer after that first choke experience, I started taking Chelsea out on the trails more (something we didn’t really do a lot of) and we both really started to enjoy each other without and pressure of ‘maybe’ going to a show some day.
Last year, it was my turn to have a health issue while I suffered with chronic hives for a huge chunk of the year. For the first time since I started riding, I couldn’t ride. Riding meant sweating and at the time, sweating meant aggravated, itchy and sore hives. The hives were even so bad at one point that we thought it was something airborne, so I wasn’t even going to see Chelsea very much. It was a very rough period. And then in the midst of my health issue, Chelsea choked again. I hate to say it, but I remember that night as if it were yesterday and I really wish that I couldn’t still picture my horse in that position. After scare #2, we had decided that Chelsea would no longer be fed grain – plain and simple.
Ever since that second scare, Chelsea has been a new horse and our relationship has grown even more than I ever thought possible. Part of me really believes that Chelsea knows she came close last fall, because she has been a completely different horse ever since.
She is now happy pretty much all the time.
She snuggles with me every time I go to see her and, *knock on wood*, I honestly have not had a bad ride on her ever since that scary night.
Reflecting back now, those scares and my health issue has really changed my relationship with Chelsea and how I see riding as a whole. It’s most definitely a privilege to be able to ride on a regular basis now, even if I can only manage 20 minutes or so at a time due to hives. I ride Chelsea now for the sheer joy of fitness and the continuous bonding that I get to do with the beautiful 1200lb animal that came into my life when I was only 16 years old. I wouldn’t have thought that my relationship with Chelsea would still be growing after 12 years, but it definitely is. I appreciate her now more than ever, and I truly believe she appreciates me. She’s not ‘just a horse’, or even ‘just a pet’ to me, but Chelsea is most definitely one of my best friends (a close 2nd after you Chris 😉 ).
My girl was only 4 years old when she entered my life in July 2000 and is 16 now…I can only hope that I get the opportunity to continue growing by her side for years to come. 🙂