The Chestnut Mare, an Unexpected Partner

Chestnut mare
Heels down, hold on, and have fun!
Yes, I am actually smiling here! Why? Because Ellie was AWESOME and I had a blast riding her!

I waited my whole life to buy my first horse. Earlier this year, when I made my dream a reality, I never imagined that just 1.5 months later, my new boy would be on stall rest with a collateral ligament lameness.

I thought JJ and I would continue as we had during the two years we had worked together prior to his purchase. I thought we would qualify for the American Eventing Championships and fully move up to Novice this year. I thought there would be, of course, some little invocation of Murphy’s Law along the way, but I didn’t expect this.

Now, as he is busy doing nothing but recovering, I’m continuing to ride in Go With It Farm‘s lesson program. I thought it would be a good chance for me to try many different horses and work on many different things. As so often happens, I was wrong. I definitely should not consider a career as a fortune teller. ;)

My trainer assigned me one horse that would be “mine” for lessons for the foreseeable future. The horse, Ellie, is the quintessential chestnut mare in every aspect of the stereotype. She can be hard headed, stubborn, cranky, and complicated. BUT, she’s got a LOT of potential, scope for days, and can get ridiculously fancy, although it takes a thoughtful rider to get her to truly shine to greatness.

I should have been flattered that my trainer thought I was competent enough to work with Ellie. I should have trusted that she had some long-term plan in mind where riding Ellie will ultimately help me to better ride JJ. I should have respected her decision. Instead, I was disheartened.

I wanted MY horse. My horse, who I waited 30+ years for. My horse, who tries his heart out to give me what he thinks I want. My horse, who listens to even the slightest of my aids. My horse, who I once jumped a course with, including turns, without stirrups and without reins (on purpose, and it was epic). But I couldn’t have my horse, because he is busy healing, and if I hope to continue our future together, I’ll need to ride others for now.

Ellie and I have had a few weeks of lessons together so far, both on the flat and jumping. At first, we struggled, and riding her made me feel incredibly inadequate. Who knows, maybe I am inadequate. Either way, I made the decision to use that as inspiration for me to toughen up, tighten up, and suck it up so that I can be what she needs.

I realized that, as Ellie is ultimately a sale horse, her future very well may be impacted by how I (and others) ride her. If we put good miles on her, and help create a positive, willing horse, she’s much more likely to wind up in a loving, caring home where she will have a happy life. She deserves that. Every horse does.

I know that not every ride will be fun, and not every ride will be easy, but each ride WILL be a small building block towards improving each of us.

Ellie needs someone to believe in her. I need to believe in her, and in myself. Once I changed my mindset from “pouting child” to “positive adult”, the quality of our rides improved, and it was a far better experience for us both.


Every time you sit on a horse, you have the chance to make that horse’s future a little brighter by creating a positive experience. Don’t waste that opportunity.