You all have seen a few photos of my grey man here and there, but he’s been on my mind a lot more lately. He wasn’t my heart horse, and sometimes I wished I had an easier horse. But I owe so much of my success and my current ability to Lancelot, and I thought you guys should get to know him a little, so that you too could see how lucky I was to have this horse come into my life.
As I’ve mentioned before, I was a trainer’s kid. This means that growing up, I never actually had my own horse. Sometimes we’d get a consignment project in that I could ride and show, or I would take on a client with a horse that was green or a problem child. A few times I was lent a horse to play with for a while. But I never had a horse that was in my name until I chose to make that otherwise.
In the Spring of my Junior year in high school, the retired Prix horse that we had on consignment as a big eq/junior hunter project was donated to OSU (Clifford is still a favorite horse and gets used at almost every show they host last I checked in). I was given a little qh/arab cross to play with in the interim, but going from a fancy show horse that I was going to take to Pin Oak, to an older mare that topped out at 2’9 was definitely a bummer. After months of trying bargain projects–seemingly out of nowhere–along came Lance(at the time, Dire-wolf aka Wolfy). He was free if we wanted him, because he was a hard ride that liked to run away after the jumps, and had been living in a field for a couple of years. He was a TB, but he was unraced and didn’t even have a tattoo. He jumped cute and was sound, so we decided to give it a try.
The first month was ugly. I cried after every few rides because he terrified me sometimes and was so frustrating to ride because doing anything other than walk/trot he was like riding a runaway freight train.
When we were still not making progress, we decided we were probably going to have to send him back. as a last-ditch effort, we took him to another local trainer who did the A circuit and that I had lessoned with once previously when I was between horses and needed a ride (we’ll call him C). We explained the issues we were having, and C switched us to a gag, then sent us into the “Chaos Ring” to sink or swim. He told us that if we could work through the issues and have a good lesson, we should keep him and continue to work with C, but if we still had the same issues it was time to move on and that he would help us find something better.
I don’t know what it is about C or his farm. Maybe Lance knew this was his last chance. Whatever it was, we had a fantastic lesson. The freight train issue still made an occasional appearance, but we still managed to have a productive ride, and we schooled up to 3’6 in a brand new and terrifying ring with a new trainer.
This one lesson led to an amazing working student position. In exchange for board, lessons, and trainer fees/hauling at shows, I worked my tail off every day (I often had to go in on Mondays when the barn was technically closed to school a horse someone would be trying the next day, help break frozen water buckets, etc.). I rode 6-8 horses daily, taught lessons, took on all the horses everyone else was too scared of or had given up on, managed the barn when C was away at a show (that I hadn’t gone to), etc. What started as a summer thing to put in some training, turned into a position for a full year. Thanks to my wonderfully generous grandparents, we went to several big shows with moderate success.
Lance wasn’t always the cleanest jumper, and as scopey as he was and as high as he jumped at home, he was surprisingly green as far as showing goes. We learned that if C rode him during the week before I got to the show on the weekend, Lance was too frazzled to jump clean all weekend. We also learned that if no one rode him during the week, he wasn’t brave enough to jump around for me all weekend and would stop. Instead, my mama went up with C to show Lance during the week being smaller and less “scary” than C according to Lance, and I would drive up on my own after school on Thursday or Friday. She was still able to go around the smaller classes and make him use his brain, without overwhelming or terrifying him.
Spring of my senior year, we decided that though he had the physical ability, he didn’t have the brain to move up to the Low Juniors, and we made the tough choice to put Lance up for sale while I tried potential Junior move up horses to lease until going off to college in the fall. With a lot of work, we had gotten him much quieter and decided to list him as an Eq/Jumper mount.
And then the incredibly athletic 5 year old I had on trial (and was pretty much decided on) bucked me off because I was too lazy to lunge him. I landed hard on my knee, putting me out of commission fo 1-2 weeks. During this time off, tests came back from a back injury I’d sustained in a previous fall, putting me out of commission for another month. Dobby–the trial horse–went home, and though I couldn’t ride, I continued to act as a working student managing the barn, teaching lessons, and generally being helpful around the barn after school and on weekends.
Eventually with my recovery taking longer than expected, and several lumbar injections limiting my ride time, we decided to move Lance to another barn where my mama had all her client horses and was managing their welfare herself so that I could do a job that gave an actual paycheck. I was heartbroken, and Lance was much harder to manage at the new barn than he had been at C’s barn because the program was not the same. But he still kept me sane, and leaving him to go to college was so incredibly hard.
He went to yet another barn to be sold , as my parents were relocating to Florida, and he eventually sold to one of her students to be an Eventer (he actually had really great dressage training, as his previous job had been Eventing). When she was ready to move up and sold him I finally lost track of my big grey horse in 2014.
As hard as he was to ride, he taught me to be so much more effective in my riding, and took me so much farther in my riding career than any other horse ever has, and made so many opportunities a possibility. He was also one of the sweetest horses I’ve ever met (almost as sweet as Val!) and always tried so hard to please. He may not have been my heart horse, but I’ll always love him, and owe him more than I could ever repay.
So now this is where you all come in. This year, Lance turned 19, and I really hope he’s got a loving family that is taking good care of him. I’m almost positive he stayed in Texas, and I think he went to an Eventing barn in Waco. Many of you blogger friends are Eventers, and I would love to track him down again, just to see how he’s doing, but I don’t have the opportunity to see him at a Horse Trial. If any of you see/have seen Lance lately, I’d love to know about it! The last record of him that I can find with USEA at a competition is from the girl we sold him to, and I’m not sure how else to look him up. So friends, help me track down my boy?