I simply cannot resist TAAHH’s blog hop asking us to showcase our first horses!
I was a certified barn rat when I was a kid, spending as much time as possible at the barn, working off lessons, grooming at shows, and sitting on as many horses as my trainer would allow me to toss a leg over. Old, young, crazy, quiet… whatever. If it had 4 hooves and a tail, I was happy. In those days I rode at an A show hunter/jumper barn, and as the years went on it seemed like all of my peers got their own horses. I had a couple lease horses for a while, but mostly I just rode whatever sale horses we had in the barn at the moment. I fell in love with one in particular, and when he was sold to another girl in the barn I was pretty devastated. Enter Charlie.
Although that wasn’t his name to start with. This tall, scrawny, neurotic TB had come from one of the horse trader guys that my trainer got a lot of his sale horses from. Who the heck knows what the horse’s backstory was, or how he ended up with a horse trader. He was bodyclipped (really badly) when he arrived but he came with no name, so he was called T-4. The horse trader’s name started with a T, and whichever ones came without names usually got a number added on to the end. Except my trainer forgot that we’d already had a T-4, so really Charlie was T-4-II. Instead my trainer started referring to him as “the brown horse” which I morphed into Charlie Brown… thus Charlie. I started riding him right off the bat, and he proved to be quite the interesting horse. He was older, probably early to mid-teens, yet he acted like a horse that hadn’t been off the track for long. He weaved, he roared, he rushed the jumps, he ran off with me at least once per ride, and sometimes for funsies he’d go flying backwards when you put your foot in the stirrup to mount. He was quirky as hell.
But the horse could also jump, and he loved the job. Granted, getting him stopped at the end of the course usually required running him into something, but he would jump anything from anywhere and never touch a rail. This barn rat was smitten. The best part? Nobody else really wanted to ride him. I had him all to myself.
Eventually the pressure ramped up for us to either buy him or he was going to be shown to prospective buyers, and my parents agreed. He may have had more than a few screws loose, but he was mine, and that’s what really mattered to 16 year old me.
My trainer made me show him in the hunters and eq a few times (I can only assume this was for his own entertainment, because lord have mercy) before we switched over to the jumper ring. I preferred the jumpers anyway, so I was super happy with that, and Charlie brought home more than his fair share of tricolors.
After high school I moved to Maryland to be a working student, and Charlie came with me. I’m pretty sure he weaved for all 1500 of those miles on the Equine Express semi, because he unloaded looking absolutely skeletal and more than half-crazed. But he settled into pasture life in Maryland pretty well, and together we started learning the ropes of eventing. We went to Full Moon, and Jenny Camp, and Elysian Hills, starting at BN and then moving to N. I only had a jump saddle and all of my hunter show clothes, so we stuck out like a sore thumb, but we did it. Eventually we moved back home and tackled our first Training, where I literally fell off at jump #3 (a big table that he for some reason decided to bank, throwing me over his shoulder). In those days Training riders could get back on after a fall, so once someone caught my horse for me, I got back on and we finished the course. It was only when I got off afterward that I realized he’d stepped on me and I had cracked a couple of ribs.
Our dressage was always borderline hideous, and he legit had THE BOUNCIEST TROT of any horse I’ve ever encountered in my life, but that horse was nothing if not tryer. He taught me how to be brave, humble, patient, and persistent, but most of all he taught me what it was really like to love and appreciate a horse. He might not have looked like much to an outside observer, but he meant the world to me.
Over the years he mellowed a lot and seemed more settled with his life. Eventually Charlie went to the retirement farm when his hocks could no longer hold up to the job, and he got to live out his days with his best TB friend, eating all the grass he could possibly desire. One day he was found dead out in the field, likely of a heart attack or aneurysm, and seemed to have passed quickly and peacefully. He was buried beneath his favorite tree.
I always wonder where Charlie came from, what his story was, and what happened to him along the way, but mostly I’m just glad that he found me. Nothing would have been the same without that crazy old nut of a horse.
9 thoughts on “TAAHH Blog Hop: Your First Horse”
I loved reading this and how I reflect on Charlie. 💕 Horses have this way of becoming a part of us.
Ha so right that when u are 16 all you care about is that they can jump. I was much the same all those years ago 😊
I’m grateful he passed peacefully as he sounded like a wonderful soul.
Sounds like the perfect horse for a 16-year old. Looking back at the horses of my youth makes me want to be able to go back and give them all medals (or more likely treats since they’d actually enjoy those) for putting up with my crazy ideas.
Aww he sounds like a cool dude.
Oh damn, I didn’t know Charlie was a T-#! All the ones I remember were chestnuts.
Thank you for doing the hop, Amanda 🙂 Loved reading all about Charlie
aww this makes my heart smile – love getting to hear more about this guy! my own weaving, roaring, quirky, lanky, awkward bay tb who shares that love of jumping (and seemingly blissful ignorance of brakes) is honored to wear the original Charlie’s bridle!
I love reading about blogger back stories. Charlie sounds like the perfect horse for you and I’m glad you had each other for all those years! This is a really fun hop, I’m going to try and get my act together and write something up too.
Love how those first horses come to be – Charlie sounds like a great one. Loved reading this.
He sounds like an amazing horse!