Once upon a time, when I was still healing from a broken pelvis and feeling like I would never be able to provide for my family again, Lauren and I went to a horse show at Serenity Acres.
Our friends, Dee and Melissa, had just bought a horse named Flagmount’s Sterling Prince. When I saw him there in a stall I was immediately won over by the combination of his beautiful sterling silver coat and his huge size. Then I watched him jump. He flew over the courses. I had heard rumors he had been purchased for less than five figures. I still remember longing for a horse like Prince that could get for Lauren that a winning combination of looks, size and temperament. One day, I promised myself, one day.
Almost two years ago, I saw a post on Facebook for the sale of Prince’s half-sister, Feather. These same friends (that had owned Prince) owned four-year old Feather. Like many of us, horse economics in our barns go up and down. Sometimes you sell the best of what you have because, of course, that brings the best money. I had heard Prince, who had gone on to be a top Eventing horse, had recently sold for over six figures. Not sure if that was true or not, but I had always remembered my reaction to Prince and thought if I could buy his relative, then I would be lucky indeed.
I regret a few things in my life, but immediately telling Dee we would buy Feather, sight unseen from Florida, has never been one of them. Okay, maybe there was a short period of time when she was nutso crazy, scared of everything, unwilling to load in the trailer and wacky, that I did question it, but never too seriously.
We gave Feather the show name of Flagmount’s Irish Freedom and started dreaming.
Lauren took this horse from just broke to ride, and worked her long hours, schooled her, loved her and earned her trust. From poles my dog Kona could have jumped to USEF Low Amateur division today, they plodded along. Going slowly, earning their right to move, step by step, to each new height division.
Honestly, the horse who got off the trailer from Florida on a cold January night, filled with her own demons, really had little more than a ghost of a chance to succeed to the jumper rings in the USEF.
In the last six months, after the ground issues were dealt with, Feather started gaining skill, gaining confidence and showing some speed. We signed up for her first USEF rated show hoping to take it day by day. Succeeding in one height division, then pushing on to the next.
Thursday started out at .75 of a meter (a meter is a little bigger than three feet). Lauren was second! Accurate, quick, jumping well and handling the big arena like she had been doing it for 20 years not just a handful of times. Moving next to .85s, Feather and Lauren had the fastest time but got in badly to one jump and knocked down a rail. Still they were fourth. Friday found them flying through the .90s and .95s, picking up still more ribbons and jumping well and clean.
As we faded into Saturday’s finale ( for us anyway) the only thing giving Feather pause was a big Liverpool jump. A Liverpool jump appears like water under a jump. Feather had never seen one, jumped one or thought about one. As the pair jumped clean to move onto the jump off, Lauren knew the big Liverpool was waiting. I saw Lauren gather Feather as they approached the jump. Lauren urged her forward with her leg and spurs. Feather got that “oh, my God, you have got to be kidding me” look on pretty face. She did not want to jump but did. She jumped it huge. No water was touching her! (Actually there was no water in the pool, just blue vinyl looking like water.)
Today we faced the water jump again. Feather had thought about it over night and decided no water jump today. Lauren got her only refusal to jump in the entire show with the water jump this morning. Feather got reprimanded and returned to jump the Liverpool again.
There have been times when ribbons at “A” shows for us have been scarcer than a compromise at a government shut down, but this show Feather earned a ribbon in every round they rode; a second, two-thirds, two fourths and an eighth.
I could not have been prouder! It was great to have my daughter, Ally, along two days to support her sister. Jo ( she said she and Snowney are going to jump the water jump! Lauren told her, you don’t even trot!) and Kendyll were great companions as well.
It was great to have Amanda making her big show debut as well. She and Lucy had some great hunter rounds. Libby was back on rescue horse, Cody, stealing the blue ribbons while Julia and Christine were doing their best in the jumper ring too!
Good times, good friends, lots of laughs and my Kona dog had a blast. The ghosts surrounding Lauren and Feather must have been benevolent spirits. We were clearly being watched over!