How odd is it that I’ve had this horse for 5 years, and never thought of that pun! Missed opportunity.
The lady who actually made the joke is a sweet woman who recently lost her elderly trail partner, and has been looking for a tall, non-drafty trail riding horse that she and her husband could love on.
Since this person boards at a facility that I am very fond of, and where many of my friends still board, I’ve been inundated with feedback on just how wonderful she is and how she and her husband are great horse-owners who treat their horses like part of the family. The fact that I wanted Foster to go to this particular facility anyway, with its lush pastures and immaculate care, was also a huge plus. So we arranged a meeting where the couple could come meet Foster and she could take him for a spin.
Foster was in full fledge Foster-mode, that is, licking everything/everyone, playing with the cross ties, and in general being an absolute ham. He just loved that there were 3 people giving him undivided attention, and I let the couple see how he does his neck stretches and smiling at liberty. They seemed enchanted, but I was reserved until the first ride was over.
I hopped on Foster first, letting the reins flop and walk, trotted, and cantered him around the arena. I wanted them to see him with the most minimal of aids, since of course they aren’t interested in a fancy pants dressage horse. All good, and so she climbed aboard.
Apparently, being avid trail riders, it had been several years since she had worked in an arena. Yet she walked and trotted him around and I smiled watching Foster’s ears flick back and forth as he tried to figure out exactly what she wanted. He stretched down into the contact and happily packed her around the ring.
She asked if she could canter him, and I said absolutely. My nerves were at a high at that point in time, since it was going so well, but Foster had been ridden for 5 minutes in the last 2 weeks, and though he’s always such an angel, I’ve never seen a novice rider canter him before. But she sat back, put leg on, and got a beautiful walk-canter transition, and proceeded to lope around the arena, giggling.
It was in that moment that I knew this could be a great match. She thanked him over and over for being a good boy, gave him a huge neck hug, and dismounted. Over and over she exclaimed how she was shocked at how much fun riding in an arena was, and fussed and fussed over him as he was untacked. Foster officially had earned himself another fan.
We’ve been waiting in the weeks since that meeting for a spot to open up at the facility, and finally it’s happened. Foster will move there in a week and a half, and start a two-month trial period in a new career as a trail horse.
To say this experience is bittersweet to me is an understatement. I’m sad to be handing him over, devastated that the future I imagined for us is not to be. But I can’t help but think that if this arrangement works out, it will be better than any solution I could have dreamed up. We’ll see how those two months go, but for now, I’m grateful for this opportunity and for the memories with him that I will cherish forever. Always in my heart, Fosterpants.