I didn’t grow up around horses. Well, not real ones, anyway. Real horses were too expensive. Instead, I spent hours at the library, reading stories like Black Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague, White Stallion of Lipizza, and King of the Wind. My imagination plucked each horse from their pages and added it to my string of spirit horses. They followed me everywhere, my secret band that brought me comfort with their nickers and velveteen nuzzles.
As I took life one uncertain day at a time and found happiness as a young adult in blissful love, I slowly outgrew my imaginary friends. I told myself that every little girl loves horses, but I had to move on and become an adult. As if horses exist just because of an army of school-aged girls!
My millennial paycheck to paycheck world briefly changed when I unexpectedly inherited some money. I was in my twenties, and it was now or never for real horses and me. The first place I called to ask about trail rides said that I had to take a lesson before going on the trail. I fell… back in love with horses in the first lesson. The real ones were brattier and more aloof than my old imaginary friends, but they gave me wings and soothed my soul.
One day, as it is with almost every new animal in my life, I woke up and knew my horse was out there and waiting for me. I obsessively searched through horse sale websites for a perfect adult amateur dressage prospect. I scrolled through pages of sport horses who all looked adorable, but none of the pictures had that spark until I found a Lipizzan gelding on Craigslist, of all places.
My imaginary horse from the White Stallion of Lipizza book was real. According to uslippizan.org, “There are an estimated 11,602 purebred individuals world-wide, with approximately 981 purebred Lipizzans in North America.” Even though I managed to get a 4.0 in college statistics somehow, the only thing I can calculate about the odds of me finding a 7-year-old Lippizaner gelding on Craigslist for the price I did is they were near-impossible. Only fate could have made our paths cross.
I named him Maximas, after the white horse in Disney’s Tangled movie. His nickers and velveteen nuzzles are abundant and heart-melting. He loves to be loved and has the manners of royalty. Everyone who meets him says, “that isn’t just a horse,” “he’s my favorite!” and “can he have a treat?”. (Yes, Max can have all the treats!)
He needed my love as much as I needed him. He had been misunderstood after leaving the breeding farm. His teeth grow very fast and need to be floated every eight months at the latest, or they cut deep ulcers into his cheeks. I made two trips to the Emergency Room before I found an Equine Dentist who sedated him and put a camera in the back of his mouth to find the source of his “crazy horse” moments. By then, we had spent years in a cycle of time off, training, horrible accident, repeat. Unlike everyone else in his past life, I kept coming back because he is my heart horse.
Inheritances don’t always last forever, and life has a way of balancing windfalls with disasters. I am blessed that my soul mate sees the magic that Maximas brings to my life and shut me down every time I tearily suggested we sell him. A few more years went by where Maximas grew fat on full board while I worked 60+ hour weeks to help keep a roof over everyone’s head.
My husband continued to outdo himself and earned a promotion with enough money where I could stay home. I started to go back to the stable. My amazing mother-in-law bought me a group lesson a week for an entire year for my birthday present. Maximas and I got to know each other again. Our journey continues.
Yes, horses are expensive; not everyone can afford a horse. I used to be the horseless person who read horse books and blogs to experience what I thought could never be mine. Now that I wake up every morning blessed to have my heart horse a quick drive down the road, I want to share that magic with as many people as I can.