Maybe I would keep riding, maybe train some OTTBs or young horses on the side, help some friends...or perhaps I would sell everything and walk away completely. I had owned horses since I was twelve...in the 14 total years of horse ownership over my 25 years in horses, I had endured three colic surgeries. I had been beyond blessed two have two horses that I considered my "horse of a lifetime", Triple and Soon...and colic had claimed both of them. I was done. I could not do it anymore.
Then, not long after Soon passed, there was a feeling of peace on this subject where before there had been bitterness. I knew there would be another horse someday. I did not figure it happening any time soon, but I knew there would be a day where I would call another my own. And I hoped, when that day came, that I would do right by the new addition, and in doing so, honor the two great soldiers that came before.
Well, that time has already come, and the changing of the guard is taking place.
I had not intended to look at horses for several months, at least until I knew what my next military assignment was going to be. Part of me decided that Soon's passing was a sign for me to finally move to England and go on that new adventure on my own. In the meantime, I was going to ride some OTTBs for my trainer friend, go out to do more normal social stuff, and just wait until the right horse came along later (like...when I was in the UK, or when I moved back stateside). Was not looking....
And then the right one fell into my lap. His ad kept popping up in front of me despite my strict "I'M NOT LOOKING FOR HORSES!" policy. I ignored it initially. It was too soon, I was not ready. But when it kept showing up, I finally looked at it closely. I was interested in what I saw; I exchanged some very informative emails with the seller, and took 24 hours to really consider what I was doing. Was I doing this because I was truly ready for another horse? Or, was I rushing into something after Soon's death and acting irrational? What about England?
I took that 24 hours and thought it over. I bounced it off some good friends who knew what Soon meant to me. They were excited and supportive. And after a few signs that I could not ignore (keep reading...), I made the trip out to Lexington, Kentucky this past weekend to give him a try. No expectations. No pressure. If it wasn't totally right, I would walk away and resume my European plans.
I went out and saw him. Rode him. Hacked him. Jumped XC fences in the most polite, huntery manner ever. Snuggled. And he was perfect. And he's coming home this weekend.
His name is Lucky Strike (aka "Sig"). He is a 3 year old, full Thoroughbred gelding by Northern Afleet, out of Godiva (CHI). He was purpose bred in Lexington by Mt Brilliant Farm for elite polo (via AI, so therefore not eligible to be registered with the Jockey Club), but grew too large. He was sent to Carleigh Fedorka of A Yankee In Paris fame, who started putting a foundation on him. He had a brief start as a 2 year old, then turned back out, and probably has about 100 or so days on him total. Keep that in mind when you watch his sale video!!
Sig is a true unicorn. His personality is super sweet and affectionate, decidedly non-obnoxious for a 3 year old, super quiet, has the best brain, and he is taking to training like fish to water. Carleigh has already had him out to a baby jumper show, XC schooling over lots of little obstacles, water, and he hacks like a champ. By himself. Through 30-foot wide streams. He's like little a wunderkind of awesome.
My trial ride started in the arena, which went well. He's a young horse with (hopefully) some more growing to do, but despite that and the relatively short time he's been undersaddle, he is very soft in the bridle and has moments of moving uphill. He will be super fancy on the flat with more time and training. And his jump? Perfect metronome unicorn. He didn't change to or from the fence, jumped with a lot of promise with his front end, and is already using his head/neck and displaying some bascule. The boy has talent.
And also, he goes out of the ring like an old trail horse, canters around the XC field and pops over fences without changing. I just had to close my leg and soften my hand, and he was there at the base of the jump. It is going to be so fun to see him develop as a jumper! And he's quiet and fun enough to enjoy lots of time hacking outside the ring too. He can do it all.
Here's some video of he and I trying each other out:
Apparently, flunked polo ponies is where it's at, ya'll. Go get you one.
I've been thinking that Soonie sent me a gift here. But why, exactly? Well, the Thursday night before I left, as I was still contemplating it (mostly sold on the idea of going out to try him), I was driving home, on base, listening to Cole Swindell's "You Should Be Here," and getting pretty misty eyed thinking about Soonie. As I was listening and crying a little, I was stopped behind someone at an intersection and I saw they had Kentucky plates on their car. Now...yes I live on a military base and yes there are plates from all over the country, but I've not seen a ton of KY plates around here. Timing was uncanny. I smiled.
Then, when I tried Sig, while he's still very unique and has some differences from Soon, they're similar in some important ways of how they ride. Sig is really incredible for his age, very level headed and soft like Soonie. Both have a super jump. I had a great, super fun ride on Sig and he made me smile (I had not ridden at all since 14 Oct, the day Soon went in for colic surgery). Then after the ride, Sig was playing with his Carleigh's zipper, something that Soon used to do from time to time. I don't see a lot of horses do that, and to have Sig do it right then when I was standing there contemplating the next step was coincidental...but also uncanny. I just remember standing there thinking "Ok, I hear you, Brother." And decided to proceed with vetting Sig and went from there.
Sig's getting on the truck tomorrow, I expect he'll be at the farm by Saturday morning, and the new adventure begins. I'm ready.
|Look at this amazing caption of me not falling off after not riding in forever! And baby genius!|
THE NAMING PART
Now, I do like Lucky Strike and I probably will just stick with it, but since he's not JC registered, I had been contemplating changing the name for his USEF registration. There are also 14 other active Lucky Strikes in the USEF database, not even counting the inactive listings. So, I guess I'm interested to see if we can come up with a more interesting, unique name to use moving forward. If I can't pick one then I guess he'll be just another Lucky Strike. I like his barn name and have no intention of changing that.
I like the idea of a one-word name relating to nautical/maritime, or military themes. I have considered "Northwestern" (the name of the crab boat on The Deadliest Catch, as Sig is named after Sig Hansen), but I don't like that name for him. I think his sire's name/lineage may be useful, so I'm open to suggestions. I'm not sure how to work in any reference to Godiva (legend or chocolate). So if you have any suggestions or thoughts, please let me know! Some current favorite options are:
- Lucky Strike (current name, very common in the USEF)
- Strike the Colors (military/maritime reference of the age of sail, not in the USEF registry!)
- Signal the Fleet (not in USEF)
- Trafalgar (surprisingly popular in the USEF....)
- Insignia (awesome, but also very popular in the USEF)
- aaaaaaaand maybe one or two off my ancient list o' horse names that is probably on my external hard drive