STAR- My Counselor and Best Friend for Life

157 This is Star. She is now 21 years young. She is a Quarter Horse cross.  This little mare is very special to me.  My now ex-husband bought her for me for Christmas in 1994 she was 21 months old at the time. All that had been done was she had been introduced to a saddle and put on an exercise walker only circling to the left. She like Thunder was bought from a horse trader only back then I was only 17 years old and had only owned a donkey and 1 other horse that we purchased from a friend so I knew nothing of the world of horse trading. He paid $400 for my life long friend.  We immediately started playing with her under saddle as back then I weighed under 100lbs so we started “breaking” her. She was a joy. Easy to saddle break. I wish I had spent more time desensitizing now but back then I knew nothing of ground working a horse and different training methods being raised in the back woods of North Louisiana you just jump on and figure it out. And that was pretty much the training for me and the horses I owned. This little mare was ridden extensively in the woods behind our home she was ponied quite a bit in the beginning but didn’t take her long to figure it out and didn’t take me long to have enough confidence on her to ride her out alone. She was my best friend from the day we brought her home. In April of 1995 I was riding Star alone in the woods and we crossed a creek, going up the steep bank on the other side she got a back leg tangled in a briar, she jerked and snatched at first then reared, because of the steepness of the embankment she came over backwards landing on me as I didn’t have time to get off.  Once she fell she laid there until I managed to get up and tear the vine loose from her leg then we walked a bit to make sure she was ok. I hurt but it was not my first  fall off of a horse so I wasn’t too worried about me. Once I knew she was ok I got back on and we continued our ride. Little did I know I was pregnant with my oldest son at the time of this accident. I found out just a few weeks after that I was pregnant. Star had had less than 6 months of actual training/riding at this point and was just over 2 years old.  Once I found out I was pregnant that was the end of me riding a green horse. As it was too dangerous to be in another horse accident. Star sat in the pasture for 7 months while I carried my son and recovered from delivery myself. When  it was ok’d by my doctor to start back riding I came home that very day found a sitter for the baby and went and got on my horse.  In 7 months she had decided that mine and her confidence was not where it needed to be. I took her out with my husband and his gelding for a ride and going up a hill she started crow hopping not bad looking back now it was completely fixable and not that big of an issue but somewhere in the 7 months of not riding and now having a baby and all of the hormonal changes that come with that I was scared to death of her. Probably because I only rode her once after our accident in the creek before I stopped. This was probably both of our issues. At any rate, when she started crow hopping I got off and walked her all the way home because my fear was too overpowering at that point. Star again was in the pasture. Shortly after that I lost all interest in riding. Star was like the family dog I would go out and feed her and pet and love on her but no riding. In the next 5 years the only time she was gotten out was to lead some of my smaller cousins around on in the front yard for picture opportunities. When my youngest son was about 2 I decided to give it a go once more and see what happened. I had not been on a horse in over 5 years and I missed riding dearly. So I went out saddled her and jumped on. She reared straight up went about 30ft on her hind legs and came down in a full run. The fence I was behind stopped her as I could not. Once she stopped at the fence, I waited until I had somewhat regained my composure and we carried on in the pasture for about 30 minutes and so was the theme for the next week or 2. I would go out saddle her she would rear first thing and bolt. I eventually got to where I expected it and could stop her from bolting but still did not know enough to try and correct the rear.  I only rode her about 3 times a week for the next month and then I was done. Not sure why I quit again but the interest was gone. We had moved in the 5 years that I wasn’t riding so I didn’t have a good area to ride by myself and my husband had lost interest as well. Over the next 7 or 8 years I would periodically go out and saddle her and ride each time knowing the battle that would ensue before we could have a good ride. And the same as before I would ride 4 or 5 times and be done. The last time Star was saddled and ridden was in 2007. I had had a bought of courage and took her out on the road we went for about a 5 mile loop and I was about 2 miles from home when she thought a feed bag in the ditch was going to eat her for its lunch she dumped me in the middle of the road and run all the way home. Now when I got home I caught her and got right back on to prove to myself that I could handle it but after that she wasn’t saddled again. In 2008, My husband and I separated and I moved home to my grandparents farm. I fought him as hard for my horse as I did for my kids. She was a member of the family. I had shed a many a tear with my face buried in that horses mane. Even though most of her life I was scared to ride her she was still a huge comfort to me she has heard it all, tragedies that seemed huge at the time that I can’t even remember now. She became the counselor that I needed because I could tell her everything and not have to worry about her telling it and it gave me the chance to work it all out for myself. Horses truly are great counselors.  In January of 2010 I finally won my battle and brought Star home. She had only been pastured with 2 other horses her entire life that we had had her and I had 9 others at the time. It was a hard transition for her but she found her place and has been retired ever since she came home.  I found out in 2007 that I had damage to the C7 vertebrae in my neck that was over 10 years old the nerve damage there had caused total paralysis of the the muscle under the left shoulder blade which moves it and the pain was coming from the tendons and ligaments drawing up as well. when we traced it back the only traumatic event that could have caused it was the accident on the creek bank in 1995.  Now Star has been diagnosed with severe arthritis in her back hips which probably is a result of her flipping over on that creek bank as well.

Oh how I wish I would have known half of what I know now back then. Oh what a horse she could have been. While she has been an awesome companion and we are now each others source of love and safety and compassion. I often wonder how different things could have been if I had known anything of Stacy Westfall, Pat Parelli, Clinton Anderson or any other great clinician that could have given me some kind of insight into what I was doing or needed to do.  She has the temperament of a saint. I often thought of breeding her when she was younger but never did. I would have loved to have a baby out of her, Now she is too old to breed for the first time there are too many complications that come with it at her age and I’m not willing to risk her life for my selfishness. So my selfishness has turned into just being happy keeping her around as long as possible.

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