For my first post of 2013 I decided to give a shout out to Pathfinder, better known around the barn as Silver. I can hardly believe that he is turning 25 this year. I always reflect on the way ahead as the new year turns and Silver has been my Pathfinder for many years, showing me that I can do things that seem impossible.
Silver was my daughter’s last show horse. He came to live with us when he was 7 years old. An Irish Sport Horse, he was an amazing jumper but was injured several times. When my daughter left for college and I moved to New Mexico, the plan was that he would be leased to a trainer who was a long time friend and continue his show career. Unfortunately that did not work out due to his injuries and it became clear that there was no other option but to ship him to New Mexico. For the next 14 years, Silver presented me with challenge after challenge, teaching me to never say never.
When Silver arrived I was not sure I could even handle him on a lead rope. He was a handful due to his size and strength. He had been on and off of stall rest for several years and was not allowed to have much turnout because of concerns that he would reinjure himself. And then of course there was the question of whether I would actually ride him. I admit I was hesitant and my family was completely against it! Everyone, including me thought he was way too much horse for me.
Silver did take some time adjusting to his new home in New Mexico but surprisingly he did more than settle in. We discovered that without the pressure of competition his “Hi Ho Silver” behaviors disappeared. He enjoyed turnout once a routine was established and he turned out to be great at toting Grandma around. He was never much for trail riding but he loved the high desert climate and he was a big help mowing the grass in the front yard.
By the time I started an Equine Assisted Therapy Program, I had learned that Silver was a pretty good Pathfinder, so I named the program the Pathfinder Program. Even so I had a hard time envisioning Silver as one of the therapy horses. As usual he proved my anxieties misplaced. He was a highly effective therapy horse with a gentle but stubborn approach that challenged clients to do things they thought were impossible. His favorite exercise was teaching clients to longe. This requires longeing the human. Many a time I have seen him standing in the middle of the arena with the client holding the longe line and walking around him.
The move to PA was a big one for us but I knew I needed to get the horses to greener pastures. None of us were getting younger and we needed to be back near friends, family.
When I got an estimate on shipping the horses, I discovered that prices had gone up a lot in 12 years. I looked at Silver and decided to trailer them myself. I knew I could do it and I did. He has taught me to believe in myself in so many ways. At New Year’s I no longer feel worry about whether I will accomplish something but excitement about what the year will bring.