Gotcha x 8

Guess what I did 8 years ago today?

Indeed it’s Henry’s Gotcha Day, and I can’t even believe it’s already been EIGHT YEARS. On one hand, I don’t remember what life was like without Henry in it, but on the other hand it still feels like only yesterday when I was like “surprise, internet! Look at this random horse I bought off facebook after thinking about it for like an hour! No, of course I didn’t pre-purchase him! LOL”. I’m crazy, yes. These days it’s kind of normal to buy them sight unseen off of facebook though, isn’t it? Whatever, it’s fine. “To live greatly you have to risk greatly”… or something like that.

This year things are a little different in that Hillary has the ride on Henry for the winter. I thought I couldn’t possibly love that horse any more than I already did, but seeing him bop around with her over some bigger jumps and give her confidence over tougher questions is so friggin cute it feels like my little black heart might explode on a daily basis.

ITS SO CUTE I CANNOT

To know him is to love him, and while she was already a Henry fan before and has sat on him a few times in the past, riding him regularly and taking him XC schooling this past weekend really seemed to seal the deal. Now she comes rolling in here with her BEMER blanket and her arms full of bags of cookies and boxes of Oatmeal Creme Pies and he’s like “FINALLY someone who appreciates me properly!”. As if the world didn’t already revolve around him before. Please. That horse gets an obscene amount of cookies every day and my whole life revolves around making sure his needs (aka wants) are sufficiently met. Details, he says.

Hillary’s jumped Henry at home a few times now, and last week I went out and bumped some of the jumps up to Prelim height for her. Part of me was wondering what she’d do… would she rise to the challenge and attack it with the gusto I know she has in her? In true baller fashion she jumped them all without even bugging her eyes out at me once. So proud. And the reason I wanted to bump up the showjumps at home was in preparation for the Pine Hill trip over the weekend.

he always gives juuuust as much effort as required

It’s hard to fully explain to someone who hasn’t ridden him, but XC is Henry’s element. He’s a totally different horse out there than he is anywhere else. He’s very bold, he’s forward-thinking, he’ll take care of you, and he really wants to find the flags. All he really requires is that 1) you keep your shoulders back 2) you don’t shut down his gallop too much. If you can do those things, he’ll take you to anything with a smile on his face. And if you don’t do those things, he’s quick to let you know with some pinned ears and a wringing tail. EXCUSE ME HENNY NO LIKE.

I figured that if I could get them comfortable together over some height at home, it’d be more likely that Hillary would be comfortable pointing him at some of the Prelim questions. I mean, the entire point of her riding him this winter is to get more experience over bigger/harder/more technical questions, so… if we’re gonna do it, let’s do it. And boy did they.

Name one animal cuter than this one, I’ll wait.

They started over mostly some Training stuff, getting him solidly in front of her leg and getting her used to carrying more pace and riding him positively up to the jumps. They did some Training combos easy peasy, and as we went around the course and got more comfortable together, they started tackling some of the Prelim ones. Y’all, it was cute. So cute I have died a thousand times over since then from sheer cuteness.

Wheeeeee

She rode him really well, and you could totally watch things coming together through the combinations. If he needed to set his feet back down and add, she sat and supported and let him do it. She found the skinnies out of the combinations and rode up to them like she was hunting them down. She controlled her body up and down the terrain questions. By the end she was even willing to jump down the trio of banks, and Hillary hates down banks. I was sitting there feeling like I was watching something big clicking into place, and it was SO fun to have a front row seat. I don’t know who I’m prouder of, Hillary or Henry. Sharing is caring, but on a selfish level I get a lot of joy out of it too. I could watch Henry jump around XC all day long with hearts in my eyes, I just love him so much. Plus I’m very familiar with how fun XC Henry is, so seeing him put a smile on someone else’s face… I know that feeling exactly. Being able to give that to someone else is pretty awesome.

@breed.ride.event

Henry is the goodest boy, I love watching him take my friends around! #gobestfriend #equestrian #eventer #eventing #ottb #horsegirls #hearthorse

♬ TWINNEM – Remix – Coi Leray

I seem to find myself humbled by this horse’s kindness and generosity on a regular basis, and this is no exception. Henry has done so much for me, and seeing him happily give miles and confidence to a good friend like Hillary makes him even more priceless, if that was even possible. Being able to put someone on him and know for a fact that he’ll a) teach them something b) keep them safe… there’s a lot to be said for a horse like that. He is the most golden egg from the inside out, even when he’s making nasty faces at me in the barn for taking too long with his dinner or putting his blanket on in a way that doesn’t please him (he’s always got complaints about “the help” aka me). Never change, Your Highness, it’s your world and we’re just living in it.

Would he pass a vet check? No. Is he ever the fanciest horse in warmup? Definitely not. Is he a top tier athlete? Nope. Would anyone ever pick him out of a crowd? Doubtful. But he’s living breathing proof of why you shouldn’t overlook or undervalue these kinds of horses. Very few of us need a world-beater, but we all need one that’s kind and genuine and safe, and that’s exactly what Henry is, in spades. It took time and patience to build him, but the payoff is more than worth it. Henry is absolutely the goodest boy ever, and he’s got a home with me for life. Here’s to hopefully many more Gotcha Days.

18 thoughts on “Gotcha x 8

  1. That last paragraph 1000% over. Kind, genuine, safe horses are worth their absolute weight in gold. So fun to get to share him with someone else!! I love seeing him storm around those green numbers without a second thought

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    1. Yes yes yes! My mare and I weren’t eventers, but we were foxhunters, which is it’s own special kind of crazy. I actually did a PPE on her and she was a grade 3/5 lame….I still bought her. She never would’ve passed a pre-purchase, ever, but she was worth all 1800pounds in absolute gold. I had her for 18 years, and they were the best years of my life. She was so smart, and so safe, that I trusted her with my then 3 year old child. Those kinds of horses are often slept on, which is so sad because they often make the very best of partners. I’m so glad you have your Henry and that you get to watch him with others too!

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  2. I love this post so, so much! I’m a driver, not a rider, and I can’t drive in winter at my current boarding facility. I have a good friend who likes to ride my horse so she gets worked a little — but now, we’ve semi-adopted a barn rat who simply adores my horse and said friend is teaching her to ride on my horse. The kid doesn’t have much (single mom, siblings, not a lot of extra money) so we’re on the hunt for inexpensive kid gear so she can enter the walk-trot division next year. It brings me great joy to share my wonderful horse with others, and I think my horse enjoys having a kid to dote on her in addition to the adult ‘staff.’

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    1. Are you looking for english riding clothes for the kid? I have quite a bit my daughter outgrew (size child 14 or large and some women small stuff – even some boots) Let me know if you would be interested.

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      1. Thanks, Susie, but those are too large at the moment. We’re good for right now, but will re-evaluate in the spring to see how she grows. Thank you for reaching out, though — that’s outstanding!

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  3. And this is yet another reason why people need to get real about PPEs. There is no pass/fail. There is reality and is the horse doing the job you want to do? It’s so fun to see Henry continue doing what he loves and your sharing him with Hil. Happy Gotcha Day H!

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      1. Agree times a million! But I also think people want a horse they can break themselves, or at least that is what their trainer wants. Buy a horse that “passes” a PPE, show it 45 weekends a year, be surprised when it’s lame a year or two later. It’s sad how much that happens in h/j land. I’m happy to show my horse 4-10 times a year as time and $ allows. That way she will hopefully stay sound well into her teens or even 20’s. Jaguar started showing under saddle at 2 and went to 24. I think I’m doing SOMETHING right! Same seems to be true for Henry and I’m sure Presto. Of course freak stuff happens, but I’d be mortified if my horse got hurt bc I pushed it too hard.

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  4. I can relate to the feeling. I had a friend call me a couple weeks ago and say, “The gal I have riding my green horse right now wants to start taking him out on the trail. She needs a steady and reliable buddy, can you come with your horse?” My jaw about dropped, because as recently as a couple of years ago, literally nobody would have called my horse a “steady and reliable” buddy. It was so heartwarming to have someone who didn’t see our crazy journey to evaluate the result for what it is, not what it took to get there.

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  5. I love so much about this post. You love Henry with like every ounce of you, and I know how that feels, and it’s amazing. And reading about how excited you are for Hillary and Henry’s time together, is just really wonderful. Friendships like that are rare.
    Happy Gotcha Day to you both!

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  6. Henry is legitimately the goodest of boys.

    I loved watching him take you around but there’s a whole new level of affection here now. I was pretty impressed with myself when The only time I wanted to totally puss out was the stupid triple down. 😂

    Hennythingispossible with the best most genuine boy ever. He deserves to be worshiped like the good boy he is!

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  7. I had a very similar moment with Pig and several friends who had some fear issues with galloping. He’s the best boy when it comes to going fast. He has a set of never fail brakes (when in a bridle, lol. In a flower hack, I find you must be much more deliberate with your seat 🤣), and goes forward easily. He made me love going fast, and I love watching him give others confidence in motoring about. He might break your nose if you pull on the reins (sorry Liz), but he’s forever my best boy.

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