Heart & Soul Story- My First Horse

Omar and I in 1976

In June of this year it marked 45 years ago that my Morab gelding Omar

came into my life. Omar was my first horse. I was a 13 year old horse crazy girl so he put up with a great deal. It's funny - when you're 13 years old and wanting a horse so badly - when you finally get that horse you feel like you've waited a lifetime. When you're that age it never occurs to you that 45 years will fly by in the blink of an eye, oh no all you think about is " I have a horse!".

In the summer of 1975 my days were filled with being with my horse and riding my horse. I remember being so excited the first time I went to the bag of grain, scooped it out and put it into a bucket to feed it. I thought the scent of grain was intoxicating. Having horse hair and dirt all over me after brushing Omar down didn't matter - I was proud of it. My fashion statement that summer was dirty jeans, a t-shirt, a bandana over my hair (so it didn't get in my way when I galloped) and dusty boots. The fragrance I wore was often times sweaty horse combined with leather. That was a great summer.

I spent just about every day in the saddle that summer. I stopped for dinner then headed out after dinner to saddle up again - often staying out until dark. Our favorite thing to do was to go for a nice long gallop. I was young and so was Omar. Omar had been barrel raced and he had the speed that I loved (okay I still like a horse with some fire under his tail). I have to admit one of the things I liked so much about Omar was he was a flashy horse. Riding Omar was kind of like driving a red sports car - you got noticed. Omar could be a handful, in some respects I guess, yet it didn't matter to me - I could handle it. Don't get me wrong Omar was very well trained. That was something I grew to understand and appreciate as I grew up.

It never occurred to me that all those hours in the saddle that I thought were so much fun were hours of schooling for me. As a grew up and hit my early 20's I still wanted to spend all my time in saddle, but I began to want to learn more about riding and to improve my skills. At that point I was beginning to understand how well trained my horse was. I could ride Omar with just a halter on the trail. I joke now that I was bitless and bare foot before it was cool. It was about then that I began riding Omar with a Hunt Seat saddle and jumping a little. We only jumped 2 footers. Even though I think Omar could have jumped much higher jumps I didn't have that kind of nerve.

My riding skills improved and I realized more and more how well trained Omar was. I think my horse vocabulary expanded then too. I began using words and phrases like collection, leg cues, softening your hands, taking the correct lead. I was growing as a horsewoman. When I was in my early thirties I began to think about the fact that Omar was growing older. When I was 13 years old that thought never crossed my mind. Omar was getting older - his dark grey coat had faded into white and his black mane and tail had faded to almost white too. When I rode him the rides were shorter and slower. I would instruct on him and he still impressed my riding students. I would joke and say "he is the senior instructor here" and I don't think my students ever knew how true a statement that was. Omar had trained me well and made me the riding instructor/trainer and horsewoman I am today.

Omar In 1993

In July it marked 23 years ago that I lost my beloved Omar which means he has been longer than we were together. We were a team for 22 years. I have been lucky enough to have some other great horses in my life, but none as great as my Omar. He is the standard I hold every other horse up to. He was my first horse and the horse I trusted with my life. I don't know if you can say a horse leaves a legacy, as it were, but I think Omar did. His legacy is the horsewoman that I am today. He took a horse crazy girl who climbed up in the saddle in 1975 with visions of TV westerns and horse books she had read dancing in her head, only knowing she wanted to ride all day long, and changed her. He took that horse crazy girl with no experience, just a passion for horses, and shaped her into a horsewoman with a passion for horses who is also an experienced seasoned rider with riding abilities that horse crazy girl never thought she would have. Thank you Omar.