Last year, on June 26th, I got the signed bill of sale for Star. I remember walking around my office in a bit of a daze thinking, finally, I have my own horse as an adult. I expected it to happen earlier, I’d always said I’d have my horse by the time I turned 30. But that’s the funny thing about life goals. Even if you hit them later than you wanted, you’re still just pretty damn happy you hit them at all.

Looking back over the year I see highs and lows. Moments of extreme embarrassment all the way to moments full of pride. Even after a year Star and I are still learning one another.

Progress, not perfection is one of my personal mottos and it’s particularly relevant to horse ownership. Each day taken on its own feels like slow progress, but taking in the year as a whole it’s easy to see the leaps and bounds we’ve made.

I can use sprays on Star now without issue. A year ago she acted like I was physically assaulting her. Ditto for baths with the hose. She’s still a bit touchy about her girth, but the sensitive/sore back she came to me with has all but disappeared.

Her feet are still a problem, and will likely be for years to come. Still, she hasn’t been “off” in a long time and I feel like we can manage the issues well enough going forward. Otherwise her health has been good and we haven’t had any emergency vet calls.

I’m learning to be softer, and Star’s learning to be quieter. Approaches to jumps are looking less and less like screaming missile launches. She’s always going to be hot, and I’m always going to want to speed through the course attacking long spots, but it’s all becoming much more reasonable.

We’ve got a lot of years left in our relationship, and I plan to ride Star until one or the other of us is too old or sore to enjoy it. We’ve both probably got another baby in our future, so figuring out the best way to deal with that is paramount. In the meantime, we’re learning and growing together. She’s less of a project now and more of a green jumper pony. I’m a million times stronger rider than I was when I got her.

As tough as it was in the beginning, and as many times as I questioned my sanity in purchasing a horse like Star after 6 weeks back to riding, I realize now how lucky I was to get her. How lucky I was to have a coach who worked with me to work with her. Our progress is as much a testament to my barn family as it is to the hours Star and I have put in together.

One year later and here we are, sane, sound and happy. The best thing of all? I have no regrets. With all the frustrations, false starts, and farrier issues, I would still do it all over again. I’m wiser now, of course, and more aware of what can go wrong. But I’m also much more aware of what can go right. Star is the first horse I’ve ever had who went from barely tolerating me, to trusting me to keep her safe.

Honestly, that trust is the best horseaversary gift of all.

Christine Sharpe is a Canadian who grew up riding Hunter/Jumper in the Southern USA. Now living in Toronto, she is a thirty-something who came back to riding after four years off and having her first child. Christine is aiming her Thoroughbred mare, Star, toward the Trillium Jumper Circuit. She struggles daily to juggle family, work, and her equine lifestyle, with occasional success.

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