HORSE ADDICTION
By Cris Gardner

All my life I wanted a horse! Always wanting a horse is not like a lot of other things you wish for. There are no other options. It's an addiction! An addiction that's understood only by horse people!

Watch for signs of Horse addiction. 
  • If you can't remember what you had for lunch yesterday but can vividly recall the bumper sticker you read 3 months ago that said "I gave up horses once - it was the worst weekend I ever had" You may be addicted.
  • If the house is dirty because you spent all your time and energy cleaning stalls & brushing horses, You may be addicted.
  • If some of the bills are a little overdue because you spent too much money buying some new tack, You may be addicted.
  • When the only people you enjoy spending time with have horses and all the rest of the people in the world are mere acquaintances, You may be addicted. 
So - what is my horse story?

Cris Gardner and SFax
Since I was born - I always had the addiction, but didn't realize it! Not in so many words! Whenever I saw a horse, I always wanted to touch (pet it)! For some reason, it was always something "other" people did - out of my reach! And then, one day, glory be, I decided, I was going to enter the world of a horse ownership.

Boy - what a trip entering the horse world was! Buying your first horse is always quite a trip but how about taking that first step in that wonderful world at the of age 51? Ha - ha - all true horse people know what I mean! So? You're 51? ...and the problem is???? Well, of course the problem is, that my body isn't quite what it was at 17& I should have done this years ago. But, does that stop a horse addict?: NO!  Nothing stops a horse addict!

Then, when finally, at this ripe old age in your life, you get a horse, you get an Arabian!!! LOL LOL - it could be the worse thing, or - -- - --- it could be the best thing that ever happened to you! This choice is up to you, and who you want to be in this new horse world of yours! 

Thru the centuries, odes have been written about the Arabian Horse - get one, and you will understand why!

The Arabian Horse is not a robot, not a creature you can command to do anything you want him to do, if he's not so inclined! However, if you have a relationship with him, the most wonderful times of your life, can be achieved by being his companion! But, never forget, he is a creature of nature! Would I ever, ever change my choice of horse? NEVER, EVER! There's only one!

Together we've gone thru a few different barns and learning experiences.
I got to know some of the things, shows, etc., that was involved in the horse world! Mostly the Arabian horse world - but my interest now has taken me to Endurance.

This year I had the opportunity to go to Big South Fork, TN, to watch an Endurance Race. I loved it! It's all about the horses and their well-being! Super vets at every check point! What a refreshing outlook on horse-life! When I now look back, to my childhood wishes about a horse, Endurance is probably what I envisioned without realizing it. Why? It's the most wonderful time you will have with your horse.  The freedom and communication you share with your horse is second to none. It's not about winning it's about enjoying your horse! 

More about endurance and general horse talk next time.

PART II

MORE ABOUT ENDURANCE
By Cris Gardner

My horse, Shadow Fax and I are now at an Endurance Barn! Oh, joy! While I will never be able to do it, I can rejoice for the barn owner, Nelia, who does it - and does it well! I've told her more than once, that I envy her - from a pure heart, of course!

So - to younger, more aggressive riders than myself, in case you have sometimes wondered if this is something you would like to do, the following tid-bits about Nelia and her passion, Endurance:

She just placed 1st in her division (Featherweight) in the South East Region for 2004! Is she gloating? No! Just thrilled!...And she should be! Thunder and Nelia are also 2nd in overall points in the Region.

Her horse, Zaubaa Saif ("Summer Thunder"), was born on a summer night, as a storm was passing over Nelia's farm, and is generally known as "Thunder". Thunder was bred by Nelia, by her very own stallion and her very own mare. Obviously great breeding! Her "do it yourself" plan continued:

At approx. 2 1/2 years old, she would get on him - mostly walking him, sometimes gently trotting him; then, when he was almost four years old, she introduced him to the gallop! As time passed, trail rides were introduced. Everything must have worked out right, 'cause at age 6, Endurance was included in their life together.

Thunder is now 13 years old - and in year 2004, they did 16 rides together - 15 completed. Or, as the stats sheet will tell: 780 miles in competition in 2004!

Wow - 780 miles on your horse - in competition - that must have meant miles, and miles in training, right? Not according to Nelia; once Thunder is fit to compete.

For every 10 miles ridden in competition, he needs a day off (50 milers that she does, usually two days in a row) that translates to 10 days off! Let's call that 2 weeks - no one wants to work week-ends, right? Maybe she'll get on him and walk, trot him around the farm - but that's all! The farm is on 50 acres, part wooded and hilly, so a "ride around the farm" is conditioning, without either Thunder or Nelia even noticing.

Then, sometimes, there's a 4 week gap between rides; well, then Nelia will take Thunder for a trail ride, maybe 20 miles, and all seems to be well! Wow - I thought, from reading what I have read, about Endurance, that you have to be on a strict regiment! Obviously, not this team!

I don't know if Nelia's story/theory is typical of Endurance Riders - but here is a little more about Nelia :

After I spoke to Nelia about her Endurance experience, I thought " I need to speak to the "losers" at these rides - and hope, that in my "Hopeless Romantic" take on everything in the horse-world, I will find, that there are no "losers" in Endurance, that all those people are happy, just to have been there." 

Well, Bless You, Nelia, when I started telling you, that I would like to speak to some of the "losers", you interrupted me and said: "There are no losers - everyone who completes a ride, is a winner" - Thanks, Nelia! I don't think I need to speak to any of the "losers" now - you just said it all on their behalf.

And just another little note: I think most horse owners who board their horse, will know exactly what I'm talking about:

When you bring your horse to a new barn, everything usually always start out great; then, after awhile, "things" start to change. And now, neither your horse, nor you are happy! Nelia's barn is barn No. 4 Shadow Fax and I have "lived" at. We' only been there for 6 months - but, so far, nothing has changed! Big fields for the horses (not over-populated), big nice, clean stalls, and (Shadow Fax's favorite) an "All you can eat Hay-Bar"! And, oh - a happy, always smiling barn-owner! 

It doesn't get better than that in the horseworld, does it!? If ever a day at work was bad? Y'all come on down to the barn, OK? Nelia will greet you with a smile....

See ya next time!

PART III

MORE ABOUT ENDURANCE
By Cris Gardner

Most of us probably remember things from school; like "Fire was "invented"', "The wheel was "invented" - and some other things, I can't think of right now....

But - none of the above (including the things I can't think of right now) would all have been to no avail, had it not been for the ability of "communication"! If only one person knew about "fire", if only one person knew about "the wheel" - how could we have progressed? We could not!

So - sometimes - when you're on our latest "Information Highway" (High Tech) - give it a thought! Where would we have been without some kind of transportation of "news" - I mean - back then, CNN wasn't an option! Oh - did you just realize it? The horse! Yes - the horse -

Think about it! Isn't it true? I think so....

So - here we are in our, oh, so busy, oh so fast moving Century - and loving it (I do) - and when I look around and see my horse, or another horse, I bow humbly to him/her! Without you, the horse - where would we all be?

So - how can anyone abuse you? How can anyone not be in anything, but total awe of you? I know I can't!

Now - reality check - will I let you run all over me, and hurt me? No - I won't! But will I always treat you with respect (and probably the other options, running all over me, hurting me) will not be relevant? Yes - in my hopeless romantic state of you, the horse - I think so! You will never on purpose hurt me, I have never given you a reason to do that; I am, as mentioned before - your hopeless romantic fan! And to date - you have never let me down! My plan is, to do the same for you - never let you down! Hope I can fulfill the expectation of you, my horse! You have always done it for me!

Having a horse in my life, has definitely made me a happier person - I hope it did the same for each one of you!


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