April 12 five years ago I had my first date with the man I love with all of heart, my husband Steve. April 12 of this year I met the other love of my life Aliente de Colorado (Breath of Colorado) a slightly chubby but totally gorgeous eight year old Palomino Paso Fino gelding. What a great anniversary present.
Ali was in a fancy barn with an indoor arena. I was a little nervous riding him the first time, but I loved the way he looked and the way he listened to me. A deal was done, and arrangements were made for me to pick him up on Tuesday.
There are some really special people in my life here in Penrose.
One of those special people is Tina Heffner. This woman is a little dynamo horsewoman, community activist and one of my closest friends. She volunteered to make the six hour round trip with me, helped load Ali, and reassured me on the drive home while he was pitching a fit in the trailer. You know how you feel this instant closeness with someone when you first meet? That’s how I felt when I met Tina. We talked and talked and talked. And I think I’ve found a friend for life.
Aliente is eight years old but pretty green. He has had several sessions with a professional trainer but wasn’t ridden until six months ago when Ralph bought him. So he had some arena time and some trail rides but does not have the experience that you would expect an eight year old horse to have.
Wednesday was our first full day together. He was in the pasture with Maestro and Rio and wasn’t interested in being caught. There was a lot of horse discussion going on about who was going to be boss of the herd. Looks like Rio won that election. Aliente was spending a lot of time looking mournfully across the road at some neighboring horses. He wasn’t feeling like a welcome member of the family in his own pasture.
I managed to get a halter on him but he was scared and skittish. Took him to the barn and groomed him. Then I took him for a walk around the front yard. I let him look and sniff to his hearts content. Then I took him back out to the pasture and lived on him some more. Finished the visit off with some pellets and he was a happy boy.
Two of the friendliest, knowledgable and helpful people I know happen to be married to each other. Monte was a cowboy on cattle ranches for most of his life. His wife Tanya has been riding since she was a baby and they really are a perfect match. Tanya has to be the friendliest, most positive person I have ever met. And Monte has probably saved my life several times with his expertise on horses and horse tack.
They came to my house to pick up Aliente and me so that he wouldn’t have to load into our two horse straight trailer. He loaded like a dream, and we headed over to Heath’s.
I am surrounded by top notch horse people here in Penrose. And one of the calmest and most knowledgable is Heath Marshall. He is a horse trainer, and is world famous for his work with mustangs. He lives a few miles from us and has a first rate facility. We thought it would be a good idea to have a controlled environment for my first ride on Ali.
So we unloaded Ali and put him in the round pen. I was using the low port Paso bit that I use with Maestro. It was obvious that Aliente didn’t like it but we worked through it. Tanya was watching me like a hawk, asking how I felt. Careful. I felt like I needed to be very deliberate and careful. There was a little prancing and a lot of head tossing going on. I was very aware that I was, as Tanya said, sitting on top of a thousand pound powerful animal that was allowing me to ride him.
We went around the arena a few times. He didn’t like to turn but was stopping ok.
We were learning how to communicate.
Next test was riding out into the neighborhood. Everyone else saddled up and rode out. Ali decided that Tanya’s horse Miracle was his new best friend. He stuck to him like glue, gaining reassurance from Miracles calmness. We rode through Penrose then into Beaver Creek. Ali was calm, didn’t mind water, and he walked. Unless you have seen me zooming and circling around on Maestro, you can’t fathom what a big deal it was for me to be on a horse that walked.
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