My Defining Horse
I remember how I used to daydream out the window every time we went anywhere, dreaming of the big palomino horse with a blaze that was as fast as the wind. I may have been six but I knew exactly what I wanted to do - ride a horse and go fast!
Unfortunately for me, all I had was a 38” tall miniature horse gelding named Dude. Now there was nothing wrong with Dude, I loved him dearly, and we drove all over the neighborhood and competed in the Willamette Valley Pony Club in driving gymkhana, driving equitation, reinsmanship, and anything in-hand.
When I was eight years old, we went to look at a full size horse for my older sister to show in 4H, as we had realized that it was not common to be a driver in 4H and High School Equestrian Team. The first horse we looked at was a five year-old sorrel Tobiano American Paint Horse gelding named Maddy.
From the moment I saw him trotting up to the barn with the rest of the herd of horses, I was hooked! There was nothing more that I had ever wanted than that horse… so we got him - for my sister. A few short weeks later I had stolen about 30 rides on him bareback in his paddock without my mothers knowledge, he had bucked my older sister off twice, and wa-la Maddy was MINE!
His mom was a quarter horse sprinter, his sire a paint out of a Thoroughbred racehorse; I had FINALLY gotten my racehorse. A big fan of the Thoroughbred series, I was bound and determined to become a jockey and every morning in the summer I would go out at the crack of dawn to “exercise my racehorse,” running the irons all the way up on my english saddle and racing through the farm fields.
The thing was, though, is that Maddy didn’t want to be a fast horse. It was a stark realization that I had entering high school and seeing the truly fast gaming and barrel racing horses. It just wasn’t his cup of tea! I had two options; find something else to do or get a different horse.
The latter wasn’t an option in my book so I had to find something that took just as much concentration, practice, precision and skill: Extreme competitive trail. I know you probably don’t think they are anything alike but, think about it! The amount of control over every single inch of body part of your horse is what helps a top barrel racer be successful. From high end to dressage to navigating a trail course, Maddy and I had the time of our lives and a ton of success through 4H, High School Equestrian Team and local open shows!
Maddy was my go-to, he did it all! I remember being gone for two weeks before horse fair due to a club basketball tournament to Chicago and Maddy more than pulled his own weight to win us medallion after medallion. He’s the only horse I’ll probably ever own to always score a 99 or perfect 100 in trail classes.
My Junior year of high school I got the horrible news after a series of in-depth veterinarian exams, knowing deep down that something wasn’t right, that Maddy was navicular. Navicular is a degenerative bone disease of the navicular bone and there wasn’t anything we could do but watch his gradual decline. As my best friend, the holder of so many secrets and so many tears, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do without him.
Thankfully, we’ve been able to work extensively with both my veterinarian and my farrier to slow the progression of the disease. I am so blessed to still have him in my life! He never gets ridden, except for a random bareback jump on to show that he’s “still got it” with skipping flying lead changes and his “back in the prime” dressage moves.
Maddy’s my heart and soul. He is my defining horse.
He wasn’t the horse that I wanted as a child, he was the horse that I needed and he’s the horse that I never want to live without and, because of him, he’s made me the horse person that I once dreamed of being when my first foal was born out of my rodeo mare: a Dash for Cash, barrel-prospect palomino, with a blaze.
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- Katie Schrock