Summer romances…we all know about them and we’ve all had one or two in our lives. Whether it was the cute boy or girl next door or the fun and friendly character at summer camp, a summer romance burns brightly and then comes to an end. Yet, its end is not without leaving a lasting impression on our lives. Summer romances happen in the horse world too, you know. I spoke with three of my horsey pals who talked about their most memorable “summer horsey romances” with those special horses that, however briefly, shaped and ignited their horse passion.
The Christmas Pony in Summer
“My first real summer romance of the horse variety came when I was 12 years old. I begged and begged my parents for a horse all year long, and when Christmas rolled around, my parents didn’t put a pony under the tree, but they made a deal with me – if I kept my grades up, they would work with a local trainer and get me a ‘summer lease’. I kept up my end of the bargain and that’s how ‘Shorty’ came into my life. Truth be told, he was an ornery pony. He was a retired pony clubber, and he definitely knew his stuff, but he made me work for every single thing in the saddle and on the ground. I think I got dumped more that summer than I have my entire life. But, I will say this, Shorty taught me more than any other horse I’ve ever had. He taught me never to give up, that a good rider can come to a comfortable agreement with even the orneriest of horses and that hard work really does pay off. At the end of the summer, the barn had a little training show, and Shorty and I took first place in two classes – and I didn’t fall off one time!” — Martina B of Los Angeles, CA
Work in Exchange for a Summer of Riding Horses
“My family didn’t have a lot of money growing up. I had three sisters and a brother, and it was all my parents could do to keep us in basic school sports, much less something as expensive as horses. I was pretty tenacious when I was a kid, though, and the summer of my sophomore year in high school I made a deal with a lady who ran a little boarding facility. In exchange for cleaning stalls and other chores, she leased me her retired APHA gelding named ‘Marty’. Marty had shown all over the country and his owner had pictures of him with ribbons and trophies hanging everywhere. He was definitely the best trained horse that I had ever ridden, and there was a pretty big learning curve. A few times a week, after my chores were done, the owner would give me a lesson on Marty.
“In the beginning, I was lucky to get him to walk, jog and lope on cue, but by the end of the summer I was doing small horsemanship patterns and even taking him out on trails by myself. When school started back up, I couldn’t continue to do all the work I had been doing, and I was devastated at the thought of losing Marty, but his owner let me keep cleaning stalls and riding on the weekends. The following summer, I was able to take Marty to a my very first show, and that was it for me; I was a horse show girl for life!” — Lucy S of Santa Ynez, CA
Riding Stable Horse Ignites Passion
“I had always loved horses and rode every chance that I got – borrowing friends horses, riding at local stables in exchange for work, etc. When I was 17, I had just graduated high school and had an opportunity to travel to the Yosemite area and work for the summer as a guide at a riding stable. Each guide was assigned a horse at the beginning of the season, and mine was a pretty sorrel mare named ‘Sheila’. She was an ex-roper and really steady. I spent more hours in the saddle that summer than I had in my entire life combined. There were a few times when Sheila and I got in some pretty hairy situations, but we had a great bond and managed to hold things together. Riding those mountain trails with beginner riders in tow isn’t an easy task, but Sheila made it feel like a breeze.
After I the summer was over, I kept in touch with the stable, and a year later then let me know that Sheila was coming up for sale. I used all of my savings to purchase her, and she’s still my best buddy today. We ride the trails on the Central Coast almost every weekend and we’re even working on some Cowboy Dressage. She was definitely my best summer horse romance.” — Heather M of Arroyo Grande, CA
Now that summer is in full swing here on the Central Coast, maybe you’re in the midst of your own “summer horsey romance”. If not, maybe you’re looking for a way to have that special experience. There many ways that you can get involved with horses over the summer, including volunteering at a local stable or therapeutic riding program, volunteering at a horse sanctuary, or even doing a summer lease. We’d love to hear about your summer with horses!