As I have owned all my horses for at least a year each, and because I take photos of them with the regularity with which most people breathe, it was interesting to put them next to each other and see how the horses have changed and grown over the past years.
We’ll start with Skye, because she is the Queen and has been here for much longer than any of the others. My parents bought me Skye years and years ago, back in May 2005 when she was little more than a filly and I was a midget of seven. Between the ages of three and twelve, Skye didn’t do a whole lot of growing, but I grew from a little girl into a young person of almost seventeen. This is the horse I grew up on, and she’s been a huge and important part of my life and my faith. And as she moves into middle age and I tentatively toe the gap into adulthood, she remains my steadfast friend.
Arwen was the next horse I met. When my not-so-little-anymore sister Rain’s old horse was put down due to a broken leg, a good friend of ours quietly handed over a scrawny, gentle-eyed two-year-old filly to be Rain’s new pony. This delicate creature, who balanced nervously on endless, perfect legs and snorted demurely as turned her exquisite head this way and that, was Arwen, back in 2008. The Mutterer backed her in about fifteen minutes flat, and Rain started to ride her. Sadly, the two of them really didn’t get along, and when Arwen was three she became my project pony.
Four years of intense schooling later, Arwen has grown from a nervous young filly into a businesslike mare. Greying out steadily from almost black to iron grey, she built a lot of muscle along her lions, neck and hindquarters, and became an impressive horse and a testimony to the rare and wonderful Nooitgedachter breed.
Thunder arrived back in 2010, and not in a horse trailer. He was born into one of those unbelievably golden sunny mornings in late spring in Africa, and he was the gentlest foal I’d ever seen, and rapidly grew into the friendliest. Kind and friendly to everyone he meets, Thunder has been a dream come true. His only fault is his excessive good nature and his unwavering loyalty more or less turns him into a giant, hairy dog. Although he is still mostly just a big gawky baby with less muscles than brains (and it’s sad to say that he doesn’t have an awful lot of those either), he’s definitely grown over the years, shot past his mother’s height and nearly reached his father’s 15.1hh.
Magic was my latest acquisition. I met him somewhere in early 2012 when he was about three weeks off his last race and came to the livery yard where I work as an undeniably beautiful, nervous, and sensitive young gelding. I fell for him instantly. I have a thing for greys, and he was more than grey, he was as silver as a sword’s blade. It was the look in his face that captured me; he was young and skittish and he first ran away from the pigs and then chased them, and if you moved too fast he nearly wet himself in fright, but when he looked at you, you looked back into a face that shone with kindness. I wouldn’t have described him as having that fabled “look of eagles”, but there was generosity and gentleness and honesty in that face. I rode him twice for his owner, including taking him over his first few cross-rails, and I nearly fell off because he had a jump the size of the Great Wall of China, but I loved him even more.
It was a gift from God when Magic came up for sale in October 2012; his owner was going the Western route and Magic, not to put too fine a point on it, really truly sucks at Western. He just doesn’t have the build for it. He was born to jump, and his owner offered him to me for an unbelievable price, knowing that I adored him. I sold three of the foals I’d (accidentally) bred and my parents helped me to buy him in January 2013 after three months of half-lease. In those three months, I loved him even more, because he was kind and brave and willing and he felt like he could jump a castle. He finally came home in March 2013, still with some of the racing skittishness about him, and starting to develop an unattractive hay belly because of how little I’d been able to work him when he was still at livery.
The photograph on the right was taken somewhere in June 2013, about seven months before the second photo. I was shocked by the change in him. Okay, so the fact that he lost that awful winter coat helps, but he’s also built a lot of muscles and put on some condition. He is even nicer than I dreamed, and I dream big.
It’s probably a good thing that my God is so much bigger than even the most extravagant of my dreams.