The sand bar at Dog Beach on Hickam in Hawaii.
In a world where people change horses like they change their underwear, Klein and I have made it to a big milestone today.
Ten years ago today I picked my two year old filly up at the quarantine station in Honolulu. I had bought her sight unseen off the internet. No PPE (come on, she was two and barely halter broke), no video, none of that. I laughed it off when people at the barn laughed at me and told me I was crazy. I know that's not the smartest thing in the world to do, and I know this sounds a little odd but, when I saw her picture online, I just knew I had to have her. I had no intention of purchasing a horse while I was stationed in Hawaii. I had plenty of horses to ride while I was there and intended on purchasing my next one when I returned stateside in a few years. I also had just said good-bye to Wesson and was still upset about that too, because while I promised him I would see him again, I had no idea when that day would be, which was eight years later.
I don't even know why I was looking at horses online in the first place. I was window shopping with no intent of buying. One night on PMUrescue.org, I came across the most beautiful black filly with a big white star.
The infamous PMUrescue.org picture. The first picture I ever saw of her that was the end all be all for me.
I just knew that was her. I had to have her, I had no idea what the process was to ship to Hawaii, but I didn't care, I would figure it out. So, that's what I did.
I called about her the next morning and found out she was on a ranch in Canada with only one month left until she was shipped to slaughter. I told them let me think about it and figure out shipping and I'd call them back. A couple days later I called and told them to take her name off the slaughter bound list because she's coming to Hawaii.
It actually took me two months to get her. I officially bought her in March and she didn't arrive in Hawaii until May. There were only certain times the trucks were coming into California to the place I had bought her through. Though I did eventually speak directly with the owner of Westbank Percherons, where she was physically located in Alberta, it was another farm in California that controlled all the adoptions. So, the way the process was, I had to wait a bit for her to get to California. I decided to give her about 10 days in California after the long trip from Canada. Afterall, she was two and had never been off the farm in Canada. I wanted her to have a break before an overseas trip.
The people at the farm told me "you're going to have to treat her like a wild cow" because she wasn't interested in people whatsoever when she arrived. Can you blame her? I said that was fine, I wanted a blank slate and I wasn't concerned. They had to herd her onto the trailer to go to the Port of Oakland, where she shipped out of.
She went on a Matson Navigation ship. You can fly them, and you can put them on the ship. I would have flown her, but at that time Pacific Airlift was only flying them once a month and the ship was going back and forth every two weeks. Now, when I say a ship, I mean a SHIP. We are talking about an 800ft long freighter. The horses have no idea they are on a ship. They are in a big container that essentially a barn on the ship and an attendant rides with them to feed/clean/medicate/etc... Even as a two year old that had never been off her farm until a few weeks prior, she arrived in excellent condition. The company did an outstanding job. It took about three days for them to get from Oakland into the Port of Honolulu. All their ships have GPS tracking and you can track them on their website, so for three LONG days I watched the little ship icon travel across the map.
She came into the port late at night and I couldn't sleep the rest of the night after getting the call that she was in port and would be ready to be picked up from quarantine in the morning. I had a friend from the barn I was riding at on stand by with his trailer to go pick her up, so I called him and told him it would be the next morning.
I pulled into the quarantine station and saw the most beautiful, steel grey horse I've ever seen in my life and thought "OMG I hope THAT'S my horse." It definitely was. She was being impatient and was tired of standing around, she even managed to kick some table over. So I filled out all the necessary paperwork to receive her and we headed out. The guys there said she was nervous with things on her right side and to approach her from the left. I walked up to her and put my hand on the left side of her neck and said "It's ok now, you're home." She looked me right in the eye and I untied her and led her out.
The whole "you have to treat her like a wild cow" thing went right out the window. She walked right on the trailer. She hopped right up and walked to the front of it like she had done it a million times. When we got to the barn I put her in the round pen because it was in a central location in the barn and that way she could watch all the activity and get her bearings.
Klein's first full day in Hawaii.
People kept walking up and gasping and saying "Whose horse IS THAT?" I laughed and said "Oh, that's my internet horse!" No one was laughing at me anymore about buying a horse sight unseen. Someone even offered me $25,000 for her after I started her over fences when she was four and they saw a couple pictures of her. Not for sale, not then, not ever.
First play time in the arena since getting off the ship. You can see the lack of connection and certainty in her eye, yet she still showed interest in me.
From there, the rest is history. I started her and have done all her training. She's traveled half way around the world with me. The hours spent seeing half of the world through her ears are something that will be with me forever. We've ridden on the beaches of Hawaii, Florida, and New Jersey. We've lived in paradise, we've lived in the desert, we've lived in the pressure cooker that is the South, now we live near the arctic circle up north, and we will live somewhere new yet again in about a year and a half.
Four year old Klein.
She has taught me more about life than anything. She has made me a better human. She continues to teach me new things all the time about life, and riding. I don't know where I'd be without her. I firmly believe that she kept me out of trouble during my early years in the military. She kept me away from typical stupid, young Airmen stuff. She has been with me at every base, and she will be there in my retirement ceremony when I retire from the military. She has been there through some crazy times and I have even had to put her in hiding at one point. People like to make fun of me for how much I love her, but I always tell them that if they don't have something in their life that brings them as much happiness as she does, then they're missing out.
We have spent hours on beaches around the country, we have done crowd control under the Honolulu International pattern with 747s coming in over our heads, we have ridden hours on trails all over the country, we have went to shows around the country, we've evented, we've won recognized horse trials and were 3rd in Area X one year. We've been CT year end champs at Training level. I can take her anywhere new by myself and not have a shred of doubt that she'll be anything less than a model citizen. She is the most independent horse I've ever seen. I can do anything with her and take her anywhere. We have done more together in just 10 years than a lot of people alone, and people with their horses, will do in their lifetime.
Exploring the canyons on Oahu. This was connected to the barn we boarded at!
One of the beaches in Laie on Oahu.
Her second time on the beach in Laie. Yeah, I know, I was an idiot and didn't have a helmet on. I don't go to the beach like that anymore!
More trails in the Hawaiian canyons.
Happy reunion after my first deployment. She stayed at a private place across from Turtle Beach on the North Shore of Oahu. Rough life.
Eventing in Arizona.
Eventing in New Mexico, this was part of our xc course. You galloped straight up this hill. This place is actually why I laughed when people told me I better be wary of Plantation's terrain. Ha. Go event in Santa Fe if you want to see a course with terrain, and at altitude. Klein had ZERO problem coming in under the optimum time on this at Novice.
She was actually second in the Novice at that recognized HT in Santa Fe, and first in New Event Horse that weekend.
Schooling Training in the desert.
Monsoon season in our desert town.
Her first win at a recognized HT at Novice.
More desert eventing.
Riding in White Sands National Monument.
White Sands is close to, if not at the top of my list for favorite places we have ridden.
Coming in at 2am in Georgia with Brook Ledge.
Snacking before dressage.
First time schooling at 3'9".
Dressage lesson with Eugene Abello.
Eventing in Florida.
Beach gallop in Florida.
Beach riding in New Jersey.
My princess just last week right before rocking the hell out of her Training and Prelim stadium rounds at a CT.
Laying down a 29.40 in the dressage ring last weekend.
For our 10 year anniversary, I decided to get my second tattoo of her today. I got our logo. Our logo is her as a pegasus, because she is my personal pegasus whether we are flying down the beach bareback or flying over jumps. The heart is in the logo because she is my Heart Horse. Of course the tail is docked too.
I will never be able to repay her for everything she has done for me. I can only continue to treat her like the princess she is, and hope through that she knows just how special she is.