Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Little Girl And Her Horse

It seems like every little girl has the potential to become horse crazy.  However, many lose interest as they grow due to boys, other sports or lack of that special horse that will give that little girl an even greater love and appreciation for the equine.    You've seen it all over; kids get outfitted with the spoiled pony or a horse beyond their riding level, scaring them, and leaving them for no more want or desire to uncover the true partnership, the magic that can happen between horse and rider. 

I had my shot at a spoiled pony; however my parents as well as a man that is like a grandfather  to me, George, kept me and my siblings mounted with nice horses.  We started out with Spicy, a nice all around mare we got from a good friend and the person that actually gave me my start on riding, Jen Obrigewitch.  She was a great step up and helped me build confidence.  I showed her my first year in 4H.  George also kept us kids mounted on his two baby sitter mares, Red and Lonesome.  These tried and true mares carried us kids many a mile working cows and Lonesome was the first horses that I was able to run barrels on.  I was always partial to Lonesome. But then I hadn't met the horse that would change me forever....

A big brown gelding is who took my heart, showed me the ropes and gave me the confidence and love to ride that still fuels me today.  His name, Shocka Bar Cody was one of my parents' greatest gifts they could ever give me.  I'd spend hours out at the barn riding, brushing and just taking care of Cody.  Little did my parents' know at the time that instead of a horse, they had really invested in a baby sitter and one of the world's greatest teachers.  

Cody and I went to many horse shows from 4H to open shows.  He was already a very accomplished show horse and knew the ropes better than most people.  He taught me so much going through the ranks.  With a horse that already knew what he was doing, it allowed me to focus on my riding and my horsemanship.  He was a jack of all trades, a master at showmanship and the trail course, a beautiful sight in the western pleasure, a breeze jumping over fences, and a force to be reckoned with in the reining and western riding....he was a wonder horse.  Together we filled my bedroom with trophies, belt buckles, prizes of various sorts and ribbons.  We were quite the pair. 

It wasn't all a fairy tale though. While at the State 4H Horse Show, literally on the other side of Montana, Cody became ill.  A simple colic that turned deathly in a blink of an eye.  I knew something wasn't quite right.  We struggled to keep him walking, giving him banamine and constantly talking to my dad (he's a vet) as well as the other vet that worked with my Dad, JJ. We did the best we could to help ease his pain.  It was evident though that our efforts were not enough and by the grace of God, a local vet that could perform colic surgery just happened to be at the fairgrounds right then and was able to take a look at Cody.  With no hesitation after hearing those terrible words that this horse needs surgery, we were on the road to Missoula where Cody received a lifesaving colic surgery. 

I have tears in my eyes, remembering that horrible yet amazing day.  I was prepared by the vet and my parents that we might not get to take our boy home again.  I about lost my best friend, my teacher, my mentor and a few hours later he was out of surgery and in recovery.  It was going to be very touch and go for months and months.  Recovery was a hard road and those first six months were going to be crucial. 

I never strayed.  The horse that gave his all to me every time we went for a ride was now in desperate need of my care.  It was my duty but most of all my privilege to give back to him. Hand walking him for six months, I eventually was able to ride Cody again.  We competed at the local fair that following year, not losing our tradition of purple ribbons.  

Eventually, I semi-retired Cody.  Although I could have named my price for him multiple times through out the years, he had earned his retirement, his life of leisure here with me.  He had given me so much; words cannot express my gratitude for this amazing horse. 

We lost my beloved Cody in February at the age of 28.  I had a good solid 18 years with this wonderful horse. He was my biggest supporter, best friend, and the world’s greatest teacher for me growing up.  My only regret is that my kids being so young did not get to experience as much as I'd like what an amazing horse they had out their back window.  I wished he could have lived through their childhood years, giving them the same confidence, teachings, and friendship that he had always given me.

Although sad about our loss of a great horse, I think back of all the wonderful memories and can't help but be so thankful that my parents and God blessed me with such a wonderful horse.  I wish that every little girl or boy had the same opportunity to have a horse like Cody in their lives. They don't make horses like him every day and he will sure be a hard act to follow.

Rest in peace Shocka Bar Cody.  You are a champion in the arena but most of all; you were a best friend in this little girl's heart.