Growing up, I loved to perform and I quickly gained the nickname of “Star Searcher.” As I entered my teen years this was shortened simply to “Star.” During high school I had a dance teacher named Starzyk who I often worked with and as a teacher’s aide. She started calling me “little Starz.”
It felt like fate when over fifteen years later I found a Thoroughbred mare for sale named “Starzanna.” Everyone called her “Starz” and she looked a lot like one of my favorite mares growing up. I went to see her and fell in love. Very quickly, she became mine. As far as the Jockey Club is concerned, she is now and forevermore to be known as “Rockstar Royale.”
We’ve only been together for 8 months, but I know Star is my heart horse. I hope to show her and someday breed her. Come what may, though; that mare will see her final days in my care.
I knew very little about her past when I got her, so I started researching. I put out feelers in a few different areas and was surprised to get so many responses. Everyone who dealt with her remembered her. One after another they said the same thing: “She’s everyone’s favorite on the ground;” “She was always so pretty;” and “She was always fat and lovely and not like your typical TB.”
She was born March 20th, 2005 at Windfields Farm. At first that sounds super impressive, after all, Windfields is famous for bringing Northern Dancer (among many others) to massive track wins. When you look at the timeline, though; it becomes less so. Windfields was basically defunct by 2009, so star would have only been a 4-year-old.
She went to the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (Ontario Division) auction as a yearling, but didn’t make the reserve price. She was sent to the person I bought her from to break as a 2-year-old, and then brought who knows where to start race training. She never actually ran, which is a bit of a blessing in disguise, I think. As a 3-year-old she was sent to a successful Quarter Horse Racing farm on a breeding lease. While there, Windfields went under, and so she was saved from the massive sell-off the rest of her stablemates underwent.
At the Quarter Horse farm she had one colt, later a gelding named Tarzann. He tried racing a time or two, but was later retrained as a barrel racer. I spoke to his current owner last summer, getting details on his temperament and a better idea of how Star throws. She thought there had been another colt, but there is none registered anywhere, and I’ve been unable to confirm a second breeding.
From there, Star caught the eye of a Dressage rider/natural horse trainer. This woman owned an Andalusian stallion that she campaigned and showcased, often riding bareback and bridleless. She liked Star’s movement and thought she’d cross well to make an Iberian Warmblood. Star went to live out her days there. Like the second Quarter Horse colt, I have no proof that the Andalusian cross ever existed.
This start to get murky, made even more so by the fact that I was not the first person to buy Star from her previous owner. (She’d been taken and returned not long before I got her.) I’ve worked it out to about seven different homes over her lifetime.
So I’ve put most of the pieces together, although I’m still missing a step or two along the way. Reconstructing her history the way I did told me one major thing about Star. She’d spent most of her life moving. The past eight months have gone by with me watching and learning, but every once in a while, I see her panic a little. She sees a trailer or I ask her to do something out of the ordinary and she gives me this wide-eyed look that seems to mean “where am I going now?”
During the Peter Gisborn Clinic I met with an Equine Ayurveda specialist. She watched Star and I together, and I explained some of her history. The specialist looked a bit sad and held up her hands with her palms almost touching, just about an inch apart. “This is you two,” she said. “You’re so close. She wants to connect and you want to connect, but it just isn’t there yet.” I think it took her saying it to make me realize how true it actually was.
I don’t blame anyone that owned Star before me. She was generally well taken care of and loved. The biggest difference between everyone else and me is she’s my only horse. So spending 8 months literally throwing everything but the kitchen sink at her to make her comfortable and happy was easier for me. I’ve mentioned before the back and forth, good and then bad dance we keep doing. I think we finally may have cracked it.
B, who started out as just my coach but is now more of a mentor/coworker/friend, brought in a woman who, “is technically retired but is basically a horse troubleshooter wiz.” She watched Star go and gave a long list of required courses of action, as well as a session of acupuncture. One-by-one, I ticked off all the items on her list.
And then something amazing happened. I went out to lunge Star and it was like I was looking at a different horse. She started tracking perfectly and her movement became more about self-carriage and less about big flicking motions. I got on and she felt like a different horse. I wanted to scream and cry at the same time. How could it have taken this long to make her okay? How could it have been this “easy.”
Looking back, I can see signs I ignored. She tripped a lot before, our big fall over a jump not the first or last big trip. She’d be jumping 2’6” oxers without issue one day, and then throwing a fit about trot poles the next. One lesson a month she was just “off.”
The magic horsewoman came back this week to follow-up on the horses she looked at before and to look over a few others. When Star came out she asked B who she was. B explained that, “this was the one who couldn’t walk,” the last time she’d come out. Her not recognizing Star was a small moment of triumph for me. Apparently she proclaimed me a “good owner.”
Who knows where we go from here, but I’m hoping we’ve finally broken through the wall. If we can just go forward now, learning and trusting one another, there’s really nothing I can foresee us being unable to do. Maybe that’s all part of horse ownership; simply having faith that if you don’t give up on them, they won’t give up on you, either.
Sometimes all you have to do, is find your own way…your own Star…