As of June 2017, I have owned Apollo for 10 years. I wanted to write a post-celebrating our journey together back in June but things weren’t going well for me at that moment (broken nose and uncatchable Apollo returning from his failed “trail horse training”). I just couldn’t find the right words.
My favorite pic of us <3
Now as I celebrate my 32nd birthday (which was yesterday), I took some time to reflect on what Apollo and I have shared in the past 10 years. He's been my horse for my last 10 birthdays, which makes me feel a bit old.
So here is my best effort to tell our story. :) Also prepare your eyeballs for photo spam because I found a whole bunch of the photos from his original sale ad (in addition to many old photos I had in my phone).
We don’t have an exciting show record or lots of satin (besides our sweet 4th place ribbons from a trot pole show in 2016 #baller) but this horse has carried me so carefully through some of the toughest days of my life, and I have learned so much by being his person.
It all started as I was gearing up to graduate college in May of 2007. My loyal steed Blue had been diagnosed with navicular just before I started school in 2005. He was on light riding duty for my two years of college, which worked great as I didn’t have a ton of time to ride anyhow. But as school was coming to a close I decided it was time to start horse shopping for my next partner.
Original Sale Ad Photos
I found lots of potential matches but I kept coming back to this huge paint thing named Booger. I actually didn’t like paints then (they looked too “western”) and I really hated blue eyes on a horse. I wanted a younger version of Blue (tall dark and handsome TB-type). Now I love paints but at the time they were not my favorite.
Blue + Apollo sandwich
Something about this guy grabbed me...
I decided the best way to get him out of my mind was to go ride him. So I did. First I went with my mom. The sheer size of him was a little bit intimidating. According to the seller a lot of cowboys had come out to try him but had been too afraid to actually ride once they saw him in person. He’s actually only 16.2(and a half)hh but he is gigantic and has a higher neck set, so easily seems 17hh+. A goat ran underneath him as we walked up and he didn’t even flinch, so I figured he must be quiet enough. I hopped on. We did walk/trot/canter…. At random moments that were in no way based on cues from me. I was like “hmm maybe too big of a project for me”.
But I found myself going out again, this time with my dad. My dad rode him too and wasn’t super thrilled with him. He found him quite forward a bit rude (and obviously greeeeeen). I rode him again too and had more fun than the first time. I was a lot more assertive than my first ride. But still felt like he was maybe too much horse for me.
I went again, by myself. Rode again. And made an offer, which was accepted. He cost exactly what remained on my student loan (which I am still paying off hah). I also decided to change his name to Apollo. He deserved a more regal name.
OG Horse Loaf
We certainly have had our share of struggles since then… from saddle fit to poor instruction, alsike clover poisoning to hard-to-catch antics.
But when I put Blue down in February of 2008, he kept me from completely falling apart. I had to keep going to the barn to take care of him and had to keep going to work to pay for him. Many tears were cried into his salt and pepper mane.
After I witnessed a horrible mounting block accident and developed huge fears around the mounting block he stood patiently for me as I worked up the courage mount again.
He has given me his best effort with a lot of instructors who asked us to do things that he didn’t understand or struggled with.
He taught me everything a person needs to know about catching a hard-to-catch horse (starting with patience and humility).
He has taught me to listen to horses and not just assume they are being “bad”, sometimes something hurts and they are trying to tell you the best way they know how.
Being a big bro
He has made me a better horsewoman and a better human being.
I feel so blessed to be his person. He has carried me so proudly and carefully these last 10 years.
Our first day together (with his image on a DQ cake)
I love you big pony <3
I hope we have many more birthdays together but I wanted to take some time to stroll down memory lane and appreciate my best friend. I have some Apollo-inspired tattoo ideas in the works but haven't been able to commit to anything yet. I hope that in 2018 he can finally come and live in my backyard!