Sophia + Prince
Breed Arabian cross
Color Fleabitten Grey
When I was a freshman in high school, I wanted to find a horse to lease that would teach me the ropes of the hunter-jumper ring and get me into the local show series. I was not a very confident rider, so I was hoping for a quiet starter horse that I could ride for a year or so, and then maybe move on to another horse.
Prince fit none of those qualifications.
He had been left with a trainer by his owners, who had bought him without trying him first. Prince was an angry, self-conscious and rude horse. After a few weeks of trying to make things work, they gave up on him. Prince was moved to a different barn in the hopes of selling him, but by that winter he was skin and bone, filthy and ultimately left to his own devices. The other horses constantly picked on him, leaving scars all over his body.
And of course, as with any horse crazy girl who sees a horse in need, it was love at first sight.
The very first time I rode him, everyone at the barn remarked that he actually looked happy. When I put my leg on he picked up a big, lovely trot and everyone was shocked. According to the rest of the people at the barn, seldom would Prince do something without a fight. The trainer at the barn and the various other riders convinced me that if anyone was going to turn Prince’s life around, it had to be me.
Prince was green and as an inexperienced and nervous rider, I had no business trying to make this partnership work. I was scared to jump, and Prince would leap over poles at a walk like a three foot vertical. He tried to bite my boots when I put leg on him. He would pin his ears, bare his teeth and back up, yank the reins from my hands, crow hop, kick out, or even plant his hooves with a stubbornness unmatched by any horse I have met to this day. The trouble was, the more you went after him for fighting, the faster he gave up. At some points, we became so desperate that we would bribe Prince with carrots just to walk forwards. It seemed to be going the classic route of green + green = black and blue.
But that’s not what happened.
After a few months of hard work and tears, Prince suddenly became the best teacher I could have asked for. He would jump the moon if I asked him to, even if I set him up poorly. He loved jumping more than anything in the world and was happy to help me learn. Our basic flatwork was still messy, but his stubbornness was not nearly as strong as it had been.
It’s been almost six years, and Prince never became the good little hunter jumper horse I wanted. Instead, I ended up with something I didn’t know I needed. Prince has more personality and smarts than any horse I have met before. I’m convinced that Maximus from Tangled was inspired by Prince. The two are birds of a feather, for certain. However, Prince does something that reminds me just how incredibly emotionally intelligent horses are.
Throughout high school and to this day I deal with depression, sometimes so intensely that I couldn’t go to school or get out of bed. Although I have amazing help with therapy and medication, there is only one thing that instantly alleviates acute moments of pain. And his name is Prince. He instantly picks up on my mental state and responds accordingly. Every time I have been at my lowest points, Prince has diligently run towards me at the fence and whinnied my way. His sassy antics are replaced by sweet, comforting gestures. Never once has he failed to make me feel better.
What #RightHorse means to me
For me, the #RightHorse is my closest friend. He’s an active part of the family and will stay that way until his dying days. He never fails to give me a challenge and constantly surprises me with his vibrant personality. No matter how much I have given to him, nothing could ever match all that he has given me.