Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of having a horse. I’m sure my parents were hoping I would grow out of the “I want a pony” phase, but no such luck. Believe it or not, that phase just got worse with age.
Fast forward to my freshman year of college, I met one of my best friends – Andrea. Little did I know she would change my life.
Throughout our college years we grew closer. We became the President and Vice-President of our college Equestrian Club and you could find us spending our free time at the barn. Andrea had her own horse, Pippa, and I leased a mare named Buttons. The trail rides, lessons, and shows were some of the best memories in college.
A year or so after graduation I stopped leasing Buttons and by this time Andrea’s herd of one grew to a herd of five – 1 Appaloosa (Pippa), 3 OTTBs (Odie, Rue, & Hooch), and 1 AWR/AQHA (Fiona). At this point, I was at a crossroads of where I wanted to be in my riding career. During this time Andrea was heading back to nursing school and offered her horses to me to hack around since I no longer had a horse to ride anytime. In the Fall of 2019 I started riding Fiona and fell in love.
Fiona is a special mare, one with a history, she’s essentially the epitome of every single mare stereotype. Need I say more? She can be dually registered with the American Quarter Horse Association and the American Warmblood Registry. She was born in 2013, her sire is Indian Artbeat (out of Indian Artifacts) and her dam is Skippen Mischief.
In 2018 Fiona was sent to a consignment barn in North Carolina to be sold. At the time she was priced in the low five figures…until she wasn’t. In November 2018, she managed to injure her hind leg pretty severely and her owner at the time (who also happened to be Andrea’s good friend) needed to find her a home. Andrea scooped her up, rehabbed her leg, and miraculously she healed completely sound with no career restrictions.
By Fall 2019 I’ve been out of college for a little over 2 years. I was at the point that I was weighing my options, looking at my expenses, and doing the math behind getting a horse of my own. You can ask anyone, I had spreadsheets on spreadsheets on spreadsheets listing every single dollar that left my bank account and every single dollar that came into my bank account. I was determined to figure out a way to make it work. Anyone who’s in the equestrian world knows that the initial purchase price of a horse is the cheapest part.
In January 2020 Andrea brought Fiona up in conversation. She mentioned when it’s time for me to start looking for a horse to keep Fiona in mind if I liked her. She made it very clear she would never be for sale to the general public but with 4 other horses and nursing school on her plate she would always choose the best option that would bring out her potential. By this time, I thought I would be a year or so out from purchasing my own but with the offer of Fiona on the table, the mare I fell in love with in just a short time, things changed.
In the next few months, the numbers started aligning and I felt I was in a comfortable position to take on a horse of my own but Andrea had other plans. I’m not going to lie, I was heartbroken Andrea didn’t feel ready to sell Fiona that Spring but I also understood that she is her horse, I simply just rode her. Let me tell you, Andrea played her cards well.
The last weekend of May 2020, just days after my birthday, my parents were in town to help my boyfriend (Alex) build a shed. While the guys built the shed my mom and I were planning to go on trail with a bunch of friends from the barn. Last minute my dad and Alex decided to tag along “to see the foals” who were just born. Now, my parents aren’t horse people and they’re not anti-horse people but I definitely didn’t get my love for horses from them. Either way I was both excited and confused by the outing just “to see the foals”.
And see the foals we did.
As we walked back to the barn Fiona caught my eye. Fiona who had a beautiful burgundy and black bow with rhinestones scattered throughout wrapped around her neck. I was speechless. As Andrea was holding her there, I realized Fiona was being given to me as a birthday gift but I had no idea who from.
Thoughts were running though my mind, tears were streaming down my face, Andrea said “Happy Birthday”, and my barn family was standing by with phones and cameras in hand. I just kept repeating “Are you serious?” and “Who is this from?”. Everyone was laughing and smiling. I was confused, shocked, STILL crying happy tears, and didn’t know who to thank.
Andrea was the person to thank.
On Andrea’s 18th birthday she was given her first and forever horse, her mare Pippa. She promised herself at that time if she was ever in a position to or presented with the opportunity to pay that type of kindness forward she would. November 2018, she found herself picking up an injured mare she didn’t necessarily need at the time, however something told her Fiona needed to come home with her.
Andrea recognized the connection Fiona and I formed and decided months prior to that day that Fiona was going to be my 25th birthday gift. I never quite had a horse of my own and Fiona never quite had a person of her own. Andrea made my dream of owning a horse a reality and I will forever be grateful for the kindness and generosity she’s shown both Fiona and I. We both would not be where we are today without her.
Just as Pippa was Andrea’s first and forever horse, Fiona is my first and forever horse.
And that’s how our journey begins…