I think I should give a brief overview of my life with horses. It might help people understand just how I ended up with Stella.
Okay. So I started riding when I was 11. The barn was a mile or so down the road, and I took weekly western lessons on a horse named Sonny. I rode a few other horses at this barn, mostly when Sonny's arthritis was giving him trouble, but usually I just rode Sonny. I learned to walk, trot, and canter. My instructor wanted me to do speed on him, but I refused. We stuck to riding in the ring and going on trail rides, which I loved. Eventually, my lessons were just trail rides--"Go ride down to such-and-such point and come back." Then, my instructor decided that she didn't want to give lessons anymore. She offered to lease Sonny to me, but then she turned around and decided not to let me lease him. She was a little odd, to say the least.
I spent about a month without horses before I met a woman whose daughter owned a barn. She told me that her grandkids were both leaving for college and that I was welcome to come and ride. I took her up on that offer and started riding and having lessons at that barn. I had two people teaching me to ride, one who trains pleasure horses for the AQHA circuit (He's still my instructor.) and the other who has a background in just about everything horsey (She stopped giving lessons in order to manage a therapeutic riding stable.). I rode a horse named Hoppie for my first lesson, where I learned that I had been taught how to ride incorrectly. They started me on Squeeky, though, and I spent a LONG time learning how to sit correctly, cue the horse correctly, and generally do what I should have been taught the first time.
Squeeky was an interesting horse, and to this day I have no idea why they let me ride him. He wasn't bad, he was just intelligent. If he got bored, he would make up games to entertain himself. These games included "Throw A Bucking Fit," "Stop And Refuse To Move," "Come To A Screeching Halt In A Corner," "Make Unexpected 180-Degree Turns (Preferably At The Canter)," and "Run Like An Out-Of-Control Freight Train And Buck Randomly." Even though he did all of that, I still loved him. He had the greatest personality and most brilliant mind I have ever seen in a horse. He loved to jump, so one of my instructors got me to try English so that I might eventually show him over fences. Eventually, however, Squeeky was sold. (Don't worry, this part of the story ends happily.)
After Squeeky, I started riding a horse named Mac. Mac had been mistreated by someone, and he was really not a happy horse. He was extremely intimidating to anyone who didn't know him well. He didn't trust me to touch his face for a long time, but eventually I got him to let me comb his forelock, brush his face, and even put my hands around his ears and eyes. He never got over the clippers near his face, though.
I rode Mac for a long time, doing both English and western. He was a nice ride, but he could be quite resistant (likely due to physical pain) and was very spooky. We went to lots of shows, won a couple ribbons, and had a wonderful time together.
(This is the part of the story that really doesn't end happily. At least not for a long time.) One day, Mac fell while I was riding him. We were just trotting along when something felt wrong and then he dropped to his knees. We both got up unharmed, but the next day the vet came out to check on him. Long story short, we had to take him to an equine veterinary facility, they diagnosed him (a correct, but incomplete, diagnosis), he didn't get better, we realized that he probably had EPM, we started him on medicine, and he fell again. I spent the night with him, the vet said he was never going to stand again, and Mac was euthanized.
I stayed away from the barn for a few days. I seriously never wanted to go back. Then, Larry, my instructor, "made" me ride again at a friend's barn. It was about a week before I could go back to the barn where Mac died, a few days after before I could look at the stall where he died or visit the grave, a few days more before I could mount a horse at all, about a week more before I could go into the stall where Mac died, and several more weeks before I could ride a horse without having to stop from crying too hard. To this day, I sometimes think about him when I ride, and I often cry when I step into the stall where he died.
After Mac's death, I started riding Stella. Stella was green, energetic, and somewhat frightening to me. The thought of riding (and possibly loving) another horse terrified me at first, especially one like Stella. She is so nice that it's hard not to enjoy riding her--and that scared me. Of course, Stella is also extremely unpredictable, which bothered me for a while. I also spent a lot of time feeling plain-out angry as I rode. Eventually, I decided that I was angry because Stella is alive and Mac isn't.
All of that's in my past, though. Now, Stella and I are a happy, confident pair, and I miss her very much when I'm away.
The latter part of this post seems disorganized. That's probably because I'm hungry. Hm. It's lunchtime.