We have been so blessed in so many ways.  Many nights, I lay in bed, wondering why on earth God has chosen to bless us in the ways He has.  A great life in the military, a husband that got to stay home instead of deploying, our new farm, our dream farm in IL, all our animals, and so many countless other things that we try diligently to never take for granted.  It all started almost 10 years ago, with a happy marriage and eventually 5 amazing children. 

On patrol at the Los Angeles county fair, with my Morgan cross, "Achates"

Prior to all that, horses were my dream and life’s ambition.  They were, and always have been a passion.  For most of my teen years, I believed I could never have children, and, as a result, focused my attention on animals, but horses in particular.  My parents humored my passion by arranging for my first horse.  In the early years of our marriage, I spent my days out at the stables, riding my horse or training for others.  I volunteered with equine therapy groups.  My degree is Equine and Farm Management.  I am a certified clinician for mounted police training and civilian sensory training clinics.  I worked for the BLM to train their “unadoptable,” last chance horses, and guaranteed their adoption by doing so.  I trained horses for a short time for the National Capitol Park Police (D.C./Maryland) and volunteered on the Los Angeles county mounted patrol unit with my horse.  I had my own private training business, rode in parades, and had the sheer joy of working hands-on with all sorts of amazing breeds, ages, and sizes of horses, from all different bloodlines and training backgrounds.  I have had the experience of being an exercise rider for an AQHA Congress champion, and lessons on an excellent reigning horse, and an equally excellant dressage horse.  I say all that to emphasize that horses were truly my life’s ambition.  They are in my blood, and such passions don’t die easily.

Thus, when the Lord called me to become a full-time mommy, our military life was no longer conducive to owning horses.  My husband was kind enough not to ask me to give it up lest I resent him, rather, he waited patiently while the Lord worked on my heart.   Over time, I submitted, and it was truly one of the most painful things–silly as that sounds–that I have ever done.  Since that time 5 years ago, when I said goodbye to my last horse, I cried many times.  So often I had the urge to just go cuddle a horse’s mane, smell his sweat, or jump on and just ride off into the hills.  Horses were my escape from life, and I no longer had that ability when I needed a few minutes to myself. 

Instead, you could probably say I almost went overboard in my focus on mommy-hood, partly in order to distract myself.  Because of the longing that would well up inside, I also had to give up my horse magazines and mostly stopped going to horse performances.  It just hurt too much.  To help me get through, over the years, S has reminded me that it is a season in life.  He essentially promised me that after we retired and life was more stable, I could once again fulfill that passion.  As we have planned out our farm at Red Gate, however, he began to add stipulations and conditions.  With just over a year left before the kids and I move back there, S and I have been doing a lot of talking about how to incorporate horses.  His main condition, which is understandable with his practicality, is that I am not allowed to have a “pasture ornament”–you know, the type of horse that stands and looks pretty in the field but no one ever really does anything with it.  As a result, he has decided he wants an animal that is as multi-purpose as possible.  He wants it trained well enough to trailride, strong enough for pulling our temporary shelters around the farm or hauling logs out of the woods, trustworthy enough for giving hay rides or horse rides on our Farm Days, gentle enough for teaching the kids to ride, friendly enough that it greets visitors, calm and showy enough that we could potentially use it for parades or advertising should we ever go into business, and so forth. 

Let’s just say his conditions were quickly eliminating all my horse dreams.  I had visions of tri-colored paints, palamino’s, and flashy bays.  Although I was confident I could purchase and train a horse to fit most of those conditions, I also knew that any standard horse would not be stout enough for pulling large items around the farm.  Then I remembered one more dream horse that fit the bill perfectly.  It was the type of horse every girl dreams of, but few actually imagine receiving.  It is a national symbol in some ways due to its majestic grace and amazing temperament.  And, as of last night, S told me that after I move to Red Gate next year, I have his blessing to buy one!

I am currently just on cloud nine, dreaming of my new horse.  We have decided to look for a filly that I can train from the beginning.  As it quickly grows, it will easily adjust to our life around the farm, and the bigger and older it gets (and the more it starts to eat!), the more handy it will become.  In case you can’t tell from the foal photo, here is what it would grow up to be:

Yup, a Clydesdale!  You should know by now that we don’t do anything simply.  These photos were taken off a random internet photo gallery, so I don’t have a clue what color mine will actually be.  I’m not even positive on the gender or age, as God always seems to have His own plans.  What I do know is that a Clydesdale averages 17 hands tall, and has exactly the temperament and looks we want.  It will eat about 3 times as much as the average horse, but it will have the ability to do far more work for us, giving us the ability to have minimal farm machinery.  Although a Gypsy Vanner and Shire would also fit the bill, G.V.’s tend to be 3 times the price, and Shires are a bit harder to come by, as well as being a good bit taller.  In any case, for the next year, I get to research, learn about the breed, and ignore the old longing-related lump in my throat as I begin to see an end to my horse-less season.

By the way, if any of you know of good Clydesdale breeders, or have any information about the breed you can share, I would love to hear it.  The Clydesdale is one of the few breeds I haven’t really worked with personally, and since this will be our first real financial investment in a horse, I want to make sure we make the right choice.

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