Yes, I bought my first horse. It was dicey at times to keep the secret from my parents, but got a whole lot easier when I moved three hours south to go to college. I took Tyler with me, and I also took Liz's horse Holli. For some insane reason I thought that I would take both horses to school and be able to work, go to school, keep my grades up, and break and train Holli and Tyler.
This plan, unfortunately, completely backfired. At the end of my first year I had such bad grades that I was on academic probation. Not to mention that I didn't feel like I was making very good training progress with Tyler or Holli. I was very unhappy at school, mainly because I had left all my friends and my boyfriend back at home. Speaking of the boyfriend, he had decided to move back home to Ohio and work for the family business. He didn't exactly ask me to come with him, but I decided that he wasn't leaving me behind. I made plans to transfer schools and follow him across the country before the new school year started in the fall.
I moved home for the summer and started working at my old job in the lab. I brought Tyler (and Holli) home and was riding him as much as I could. I was also making plans to have him shipped to Ohio so I could keep him. I was nervous but really excited to go.
My friends were supportive, but I could tell that nobody thought it was a good idea. I heard many things, like "I don't see a ring on your finger..." or "Are you sure it's smart to change your life so drastically for a guy who hasn't even made a committment to you yet?", and other comments along those lines. But if you know me then you know that once I make up my mind, I'm not easily swayed. I was going.
I was fortunate to have the chance to go to shows that sumer with all my friends before I left. One show was notable in particular, and that was Regionals. We brought a big load of horses to Reno for the Region III Championships that year. We had a great time, until the last day. After feeding the horses, we all decided to go out to breakfast since nobody was showing until the afternoon. Blair had three to ride in the final Championships that afternoon and evening, so when she decided she was going to order biscuits and gravy I told her that wasn't a very good idea. Knowing Blair's past gastrointestional history, I told her to have something a bit more mild because it would be bad if she got a stomach ache. She insisted she would be fine and cleaned her plate.
We got back to the barn and it was business as usual. It was hot, being June in Reno, so everyone was just lying around. Blair went into the feed room to catch a quick nap on the hay bales. She come out a half-hour later, holding her stomach. I gave her "the look" which said "Don't even tell me your stomach hurts.". She smiled weakly and said, "I think I'm going to have to go recycle the biscuits and gravy."
My first thought was that we were screwed. You see, Blair had hyperemesis sometimes, which means that once she started vomiting she couldn't stop without medical attention and drugs. She insisted just a quick trip to the bathroom would solve her problem, and headed off. I knew she wouldn't be back. Twenty minutes later, Cheryl went to check on her, and found her dry heaving uncontrollably. Blair actually thought that she could control it and would be able to ride. I knew she needed to get to the hospital, and that she needed to tell me how to handle her rides for the evening.
If it had been any other horse show, we just would have scratched the horses and gone home. But it was Regionals and the clients had paid a lot of money to get there. Blair said that the previous trainer could show the grey gelding, that the owner could show the bay mare, and she'd scratch the other gelding. And Stephanie, the gal riding Bo in the equitation medal class, would just have to be on her own unless I had time to coach her. But I had to coordinate everything at the show office and back at the barn, with the thought that Blair just might suddenly recover, so my chances of making it to the ring to help Stephanie were close to zero.
At some point while I was running around making arrangements and getting horses ready, Cheryl took Blair to the hospital. I got the grey gelding in the ring with the previous trainer, and sent Stephanie off on Bo, with one piece of advice - don't rush him in the canter departs or you'll get the wrong lead. Then I got the mare and her owner ready for the ring. The results? The grey gelding blew a transition and was not in the Top 5. Stephanie rushed her canter depart, Bo gave her the wrong lead, as predicted, and she was out. And the owner of the mare was completely nervous and had a terrible ride. All in all, a crappy night of showing.
Blair spent the night in the hospital. She was fine after some fluids and drugs to stop the vomiting. The next morning she went back to the hotel to sleep while we packed the trailer and got ready to leave. But the fun wasn't over yet. Mary got heat stroke, and one of the geldings ripped his nose open on his water bucket and needed stitches. Blair finally showed up after noon just in time to get in the truck and drive it home. She actually had the nerve on the way home to suggest Burger King for dinner. One look from me squished that idea.
We finished out the summer, showing some more and riding together. Then disaster struck. Two days before I was to leave for Ohio, my parents found out I had a horse. Tyler had kicked down a board at the barn and they called my house to tell my mom that I needed to fix it before I left. My mom called me to give me the message, and then said "You don't have a horse, do you?"
I paniced. Then I lied and said no, explaining that it was just the horse I was riding but I did not own him. Then I called the barn and yelled at them for telling my mom anything because they knew it was a secret.
Little did I know that they then called my mom back to tell her everything.
When I got home from work my parents were waiting to talk to me. After much yelling, it came out that my father would not allow me to leave, would not support me in any way, if I owned that horse. There were tears and pleading, but he could not be budged. I was hosed.
I called Blair in a panic and explained the situation. She agreed to buy Tyler and get me out of this mess, at least temporarily. She drove over to the house and my dad watched us sign the papers over to her. She made plans to pick Tyler up and move him to her barn, along with all of his tack and blankets. Just the thought of leaving him and all of his stuff behind was so heartbreaking that it made me burst into tears. I cried for months.
Mom refused to speak to me for almost a year. Rather, she was so hurt that I lied to her that she just couldn't. She insisted that if I had just told her the truth that she would have been okay with it, but I don't believe her. She would have told my dad and the end result would have been the same. The forced sale of my horse and a long, tear filled drive to Ohio.
Before I left at the beginning of August, Blair hosted a surprise party for me at her house. All the barn people were there to wish me well and say goodbye. It was really sad, because I knew that I would miss everyone a lot, including Tyler.
I didn't know just how much I'd be missing some of them until December.
To be continued...