When I decided to lease Rev, I knew I was taking on a training project. Although he'd had a successful show career, he wasn't an easy ride. Out of shape and anxious, he jigged when he was supposed to walk, hollowed his back and ran away at the trot, and his canter... Well, he didn't really have a canter. Instead, he had epic amounts of cross canter. As much as I liked him, I didn't really like riding him. As the end of my six-month lease approached, I decided to explore other options.
Like most large boarding stables, Kenlyn is home to a lot of horses that are rarely, if ever, ridden. While not officially advertised as such, many of these horses are potential lease horses, providing you know who to ask.
Fortunately, I knew exactly who to ask.
Resident trainer, Erica Groat, was my first friend at Kenlyn. She'd worked there, on and off, for several years and had a near encyclopedic knowledge of all the horses living at the barn. If anyone was qualified to play matchmaker, it would be Erica.
Sure enough, when I asked Erica about potential lease horses, she immediately came up with a pair of names. I wasn't familiar with either of them, but I trusted her judgement and was grateful when she offered to discuss the idea with their owners.
Shortly after that conversation, two things happened: After so many months of slow to nonexistent progress, everything started clicking with Rev. His head went down, his back came up, he (mostly) stopped jigging and he was able to maintain a canter lead. All thoughts of leasing another horse went out of my head.
I meant to tell Erica to call off the search, but before I had a chance to do so, the second thing happened: Erica died.
Her Celebration of Life memorial was held a week later at the Coal Creek Boy Scout Pavilion, which is just a short ride from Kenlyn. Like many others, I chose to attend the event on horseback.
We left the barn en masse, but it wasn't long before that one big group turned into several little ones. I found myself riding with a woman I hadn't met before. Her name was Deb and her horse was Sweet Pea.
As we rode along, we shared our memories of Erica. Neither of us had known her long, but we both felt as if we'd lost a close friend. We were quiet for a bit, and then Deb said, "The funny thing is, I'd just received a text from Erica. She knew someone who wanted to lease my other horse, and we were going to meet and talk about it."
I let that sink in for a moment and then told her, "That was me she was talking about."
"I've never leased one of my horses," she said. "I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with that."
"That's ok," I answered. "I've decided to keep going with Rev."
After the service, Deb and I rode back to the barn together. Neither of us was ready to go straight back, so we dropped down into the river bottom and took the long way. We trotted and jumped a couple logs and talked and talked. Towards the end of the ride, Deb looked over at me and said, "I'd lease Mystyc to you."
I smiled and replied, "I'll remember that."
In just a couple days, I will start leasing the lovely Mystyc.
I think Erica would approve.