Jammer was the last, trained gelding to sell last year from Belesemo Arabians. He wasn’t bred on their farm, which is only 10 miles from mine, but on an Idaho ranch where he spent his youth tearing about the hills with his herd of equine hellions. He was handled for deworming and hoof care, but not doted upon. This, and his reserved personality, made him amenable to handling but hardly the pocket pony that is more typical of Belesemo’s stock.
He didn’t snuggle, so he didn’t sell. Until I got a look at him. I found him not stand-offish, but a perfect gentleman. Big, honest, and willing. He had the “kind eye” we all read about from Black Beauty on up. A big, smooth stride built on old-style conformation made to win races, not halter classes. Solid training. Desert smarts. The mind and physique I was looking for. I took him home.
Fully mature and under saddle, he was ready to jump into conditioning right away, though it was too late in the year to register for any rides. We focused on getting to know each other, laying baseline fitness that would pay off come spring. He swallowed his workouts whol, and enthusiastically, demonstrating increased fitness every time we hit the trail. Our longest ride last fall was around 25 miles in hills, and he came through fresh as a spring daisy.
But it wasn’t spring. It was winter, and winter fell deep and cold. There were days in December when the weather would have let me ride, but my heart did not. That was a time to focus on other things, to rage and process and accept. And so I did, and February came, and Jammer was still there in his thick, silver coat and black eyes to match his mane. His personality warmed with the weather. He’ll never be a “velcro horse” like Majesty or Ripple, but that wild-horse caution slowly vanished from his face.
We returned to the trail and stacked on miles. We started with about 20 miles per week, split among two or three rides. I moved him along faster than I would have done with a younger horse. He was coming 8 years old, ranch raised, under saddle with regular riding for over a year. I kept an eye on his appetite, tendons, and aspect. Consistently 100%. Excellent. Over about two months, we worked up to a brisk 30-miler in the hills.
And then it was time. We registered for a ride.
All this time I was getting to know Jammer, I was also getting to know Tyson. We met on an unseasonably warm, February day. It was one of those meetings we all have now and again — the kind in which you connect with someone on an uncommon level and sense potential beyond the average sweetheart, co-worker, friend. It happens in all kinds of relationships, not just romantic ones, but it doesn’t happen often. And when it does — especially when you’re both single and share all the right interests and worldviews — you pay attention.
So we’ve been busy. Skiing. Hiking. Dual-sport motorcycling. Travelling. Hanging out on the farm. Exploring music and food. And taking Jammer to endurance rides.
Yes, rides. Plural. He’s already up to 110 AERC miles (oops — spoiler!) and I owe y’all some stories. Stay tuned.