Year of Birth: 2006
Height: 14.3 1/2 hh
Colour and Markings: Dark grey with a star
Breed: Nooitgedachter sport horse (more on Nooities here)
Discipline: Eventing, dressage, showjumping and showing
One of my oldest partners, this fearless mare has the body of a fat show pony and a heart of fire. Thus, she is commonly referred to – in the blog and in life – as the Dragon.
Arwen was originally a gift to my little sister, whose older horse had just been put down. She was a skittish two-year-old with a six-week-old foal at foot when she arrived, was half-backed by a local trainer in about fifteen minutes flat, and then proceeded to toss aforementioned Li’l Sis three times in the next six months. I never really wanted her, but God had other ideas, and as the big sister with the Velcro butt, I migrated to her quite soon after that.
Arwie was my first real training project, although that sounds silly to say, given that she was doing most of the training. I knew practically nothing, but the two of us gutsed our way – pretty much without instruction – through a few years of hacking and trying to get it together at home, to finally our mutual first few shows. She carried me down centreline at my first dressage test, complete with horrendous plaits, cream breeches, and a bright blue numnah on a saddle that didn’t really fit either of us.
We went on to showjump (badly) for a year before moving on to eventing (also badly) in 2015. We racked up countless eliminations, but she never quit trying and we busted our way through the bottom levels. The competitive world is a cruel place for an adult who has never shown before and has no instructor – but oodles of support from friends and family – and I could not have made it if it wasn’t for this fearless, tenacious little horse who just never quit.
In 2016 we moved on to a bit of everything, including showing, showjumping, stadium eventing, dressage and a few more eventing failures. She rocked around it all, but showing was her forte, including winning a national championship in hand at a Nooitie show.
2017 was dressage year, and despite mediocre schooling and having had exactly two dressage lessons, we made it through Elementary with the dragonbeast remaining ever resolute along the way.
In 2018 we turned to showing. Dragonheart shone in the working riding, being Nooitie adult champion, open reserve champion, and Nooitie reserve supreme champion at Horse of the Year. She also carried me through the most heartbreaking class of my life when we rode Strictly Come Showing as a tribute to my friend who died young and violently. We showed once or twice after that before I passed her on to one of my Rising Stars, with whom she does showjumping, showing, and basically everything else with great gusto.
Apart from being a brisk, businesslike horse who loves her work, Arwen is a hardy mare who embodies everything I love about the Nooitgedachter breed: character, willingness, intelligence, toughness, good looks and the ability to stay fat on air.
Now packing her kid around everywhere and doing for him what she did for me, Arwen rules her herd with an iron fist. She takes no nonsense from anybody, fears exactly nothing, and occasionally threatens to launch me into the stratosphere just as a reminder that she’s actually the one in charge. Our partnership is an undemonstrative one, but her fire relights mine when it flickers. She is chubby, short-striding, sassy, occasionally uncooperative, sometimes a pain and always dauntless. She is a horse that has changed me forever and she is doing the same for her new rider. She is the dragonhearted.