My beloved horse turns twenty years-old today. Born on May 18, 1997 in Paducah, Kentucky, he must have been the cutest foal with that giant stingray-shaped star on his face! I’ll never forget the day I met Prince.
I met Prince when he was four years old. I had been looking for a horse to call my own all summer and felt like I tried out every available horse in Texas. A trainer arrived with a horse for me to try. I can’t even remember that horse’s name now. I only had eyes for the wild red four year-old who happened to be on the trailer with him. Prince didn’t even have a barn name yet! Registered as The Enchanting Heir, everyone at his barn simply called him “the Heir horse.” He was the most beautiful horse I had ever seen and I knew instantly that he was the horse for me.
I begged my trainer at the time to let me ride him. He was only to stay at our farm for a couple of days before heading off to Houston. “He’s barely been trained,” she told me. “He was gelded only sixty days ago.” That explained his stallion-like swagger and all the dramatic snorting. Prince had such lovely conformation that his previous owner intended to keep him as a breeding stud, particularly since he was out of the most famous Saddlebred stud of the time, Supreme Heir. Watching him trot around the pasture, they decided it would be a shame not to have him compete so they gelded him (in the Saddlebred world, stallions cannot compete) and sent him off to Houston for an interested buyer.
I suppose letting a twelve year-old girl ride a recently gelded, barely trained young horse straight off a trailer meant for someone else was ill-advised but she agreed to let me ride him. I walked in his stall as he snorted and tossed his mane, wild eyes watching me closely. I extended me hand and he put his nose against my palm and then his whole face against mine. I stroked his neck and told him confidently, “You’re going to be my horse. You’ll see.” I was hooked from the very first ride. To this day I’ve still never ridden another horse with the same amount of fire.
Needless to say, Prince never made it to Houston and I really ought to formally apologize to whomever he was on his way to see but I can’t even imagine Prince belonging to anyone else. He has been my rock for sixteen years, getting me through the worst of times. I could never have asked for a more loyal horse. Prince faced great adversity in his life – more so than the average person – but his spirit never broke and the fire in him never wavered.
I’ve never felt freedom like I felt with Prince. Someone once asked me how I even get on such a high-spirited horse, let alone ride him. “Easy,” I told her. “I throw my heart up first.” And that’s how I always rode him: with a whole lot of heart. When people talk about going to their “happy place” I see the world rush by between his ears, red mane blowing in my face. When I have a bad day, all I want is to watch the sunset with Prince and borrow his strength. He is such an inspiration to me and I hope one day I am half as strong as he is.
So happy birthday to my sun and stars, my sanctuary, my Enchanting Heir. How lucky I am to be your human. Thank you for making me a better person and inspiring me every day. Here’s to the next twenty birthdays, my love!