It was a blazing hot summer day when I first saw him. He looked so fiery: red coat, nostrils flaring as he tossed his head around, shaking his mane. He was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. “What horse is this? Can I ride him?” I asked. “He isn’t meant for you,” said my trainer at the time. There’s no English word that properly covers it so I’ll just say it in German: “Doch!” He was absolutely meant for me. I knew it the minute I laid eyes on him. It truly was liebe auf den ersten blick (love at first sight) and twenty years later, I love him even more.
His name wasn’t Prince when I met him. His registered name is The Enchanting Heir, son of Supreme Heir and grandson of Supreme Sultan (if you’ve ever been to the Kentucky Horse Museum, you’ve seen Supreme Sultan’s statue!) but he didn’t have a barn name. Some folks at my barn wanted me to name him Ray because of his unusual stingray blaze (I’ve only ever seen one other horse with something similar) but who’s the heir to the throne? A Prince of course. So that’s what I named him!
Prince has taught me a lot about life and perseverance. He’s had a lot of tragic things happen to him (I won’t go into detail because it’s our happily ever after that counts) but he always handled everything life threw at him with strength and grace. When Prince was ten, I thought we had made it through all the bad stuff but long story short, white line disease had destroyed one of his hooves and he had to have a complete hoof resection. They replaced his hoof with fiberglass. (I joked that he was Darth Vader!) I’ll never forget walking him out to eat grass one day during that recovery period. I couldn’t believe how majestic he looked limping out of the barn. He kept his head held high, his eyes on the prize (grass), his ears pricked forward, just enjoying the day. He was in such great spirits. He couldn’t have felt less sorry for himself. I was eighteen years old and that walk is permanently seared into my memory. No matter what, keep your head held high, keep going, and keep loving life. That’s what Prince taught me.
I’m happy to report that we had many years of happy rides after that. When people say go to your happy place, I am instantly transported to his back. I’m riding the smoothest canter in the world, I lean forward, grab a handful of mane, and whisper, “Let’s ride.” Prince takes off at a full gallop and we race around the dirt track. This is how I spent so many happy years and this is where I go when I close my eyes and need to escape.
I never fell off of Prince, even when I deserved to. He simply wouldn’t let me! Once at a full gallop, my stirrup leather broke. Since I was up in a jockey position, it felt like the earth opened up and swallowed me. I opened my eyes and I was laying on his neck, still in the saddle. Someone was running towards me and said, “OMG! Your stirrup broke and your damn horse shimmied and caught you!” That’s my Prince, the kind of horse who catches you when you almost fall.
Prince is retired now and is living in the lap of luxury, pampered the same as the top Grand Prix horse at Black Star Sport Horses. I have to thank Lisa and Jackie Blackmon and Jessica Blackmon-White for giving us our happily ever after. Truly the best decision I ever made was sending my horses to Black Star Sport Horses. Prince spends his days eating grass in a paddock overlooking a pond. We go for walks and drink wine under the shady trees, have picnics with friends, and watch the sunset together and I adore every minute of it.
For Prince, the love of my life. I’m never more myself than when I’m with you. It’s an honor to be your human.