This is a repost of sorts, but I wrote it three years ago and I didn't have as many readers then. AJ is very special to me, as is our story, so I wanted to share it again.
I was 10 years old in 1990 and had been taking lessons for a while at a local barn. My dad had told me that I could get a horse when I was 14, and I was counting the years! This particular year, though, my dad had a proposition... we could take a family trip to Disney World, or I could get a horse and my brother could get a dirt bike (looking back now, what a completely unfair proposition it was where my brother was concerned LOL). There was no debate at all, I was getting my horse!
So we built an addition on the barn, set up a pasture, built a riding arena, and set off to find my very first horse. Let's be honest... we had no idea what we were doing. We had no help, no one to talk to, and blindly went searching for something we knew nothing about. Books and magazines told us not to buy the first horse we saw, but that's exactly what we did!
The ad in the paper said "4 year old QH for sale. $1000" Sounded good to us, so we went over to take a look. He was gorgeous! 16 hands tall and he shined like a copper penny! We were told that he had been an orphan, was born in 1986, and the man had purchased the then 2 year old AJ at a local auction. AJ didn't have any papers and his pedigree was unknown. The man said he was looking to buy another horse and AJ needed to find a new home. I rode him in the arena, I rode him down the road, and he seemed absolutely perfect. The man even offered to trailer him to our house for us. SOLD!
|AJ the day we took him home!|
|Enjoying MY horse!|
What happened next is something we still talk about to this day... literally the next day, as in the day after we decided to sell him, we had a totally different horse. He stopped all his crap, all his aggression, and transformed himself back into the horse we had purchased. It was as if he heard what we said and decided to straighten up. So he stayed... and the big plans we had for him were put into motion.
He and I were both learning, and we were learning together. He was very green, and he was a challenge. He was way too much horse for me and my 4-H leader told me so on many occasions. That old saying "green + green = black and blue"... oh so true! I shed many tears that first year, but we pushed through. I loved my AJ and I knew we had potential. The second summer we worked even harder. I was more experienced and less afraid of this big, powerful horse. I took lessons, I went to shows, and I even took him to the fair that year. We only did walk/trot classes, but we won the high point for our division. It was a wonderful reward for all the hard work we had put in. I was really looking forward to the following year!
|Our fair picture.|
|Costume class at the fair. He was a baby and I got him to suck his tongue in the class!|
The following year we trailered him to what would be his last show. It was our first canter class ever and the judge pulled us to the center of the ring because she could tell he was lame. The trailer rides were just too hard on him and the bute couldn't keep up any more. He was officially retired, at 6 years old.
By this time, though, he had become part of the family. We all loved him and what a personality he had! I rode my 4-H leader's horse that year at the fair and we eventually leased another horse that I rode for a couple years after that. We bought a Paint yearling that was my show horse until it was time for me to head off to boot camp. Even with all the other horses in my life, AJ was my pride and joy. He was the horse I wanted to ride, and he was the horse I wanted to show. I'll always wonder what could have been and what we would have accomplished if things had gone as planned.
|Riding with my dad and his horse Justus.|
A HUGE thank you to my parents for taking such wonderful care of him for me all these years. Without them, I don't know that he'd still be with me.