I have many many things to be thankful for, but today I’m singling out a particular part of my life that I am so, so thanksful, and lucky, to have- my horse, Cochise.
Cochise was a thirteenth birthday gift from my parents. Well, we didn’t officially buy him until a few months later, but around my birthday was when I started leasing him as a trial. As of this November, Cochise has been with me for half my life.
Jumping, circa 2003
Cochise was still fairly green when I got him. Looking back, I can’t believe my trainer allowed us to buy him, with his level of training and me being advanced novice. I’d been riding for almost four years, but I’d never done any real training. The second and third days I rode Cochise were the first and second times I ever fell off too.
I was very lucky to happen into a Natural Horsemanship trainer who helped me learn how to work with Cochise is a more constructive manner. He was an anxious, uncoordinated, and grumpy horse. But he was also sweet, smooth, and trainable.
Jumping bareback in a rope halter, circa 2004
Cochise was and is a very quirky, opinionated horse, but we learned together and formed a great partnership. Throughout high school, I rode almost every day. I met my best friend Robyn through Cochise- she leased him before she bought her first horse. Once she had her own horse, we often rode together.
Playing “broom polo” in 2006
One of the things I am most thankful for is that I never had to choose between attending my first-choice college and keeping my horse. I would have been heartbroken to sell Cochise- I don’t think I ever could have done it. Luckily, Robyn was starting her lesson teaching business just as I was leaving for college. Cochise, having come leaps and bounds since when I first got him, became a lesson horse.
In his new vocation as a lesson horse
Cochise is a great lesson horse. He will baby the littlest riders and challenge the more advanced riders. He’s safe and fun but makes a rider work- and learn. And best of all- he loves it. He gets to stay at home with his herd and be doted on by hordes of children. It’s the perfect job for a horse who is fantastic and versatile, and thrives on a routine.
Out with his herd, summer 2008
Ever time I came home from college I would get to visit Cochise, and he was always happy to see me.
Cochise meets my future husband, summer of 2008
After I graduated college, I continued to visit Cochise whenever I could.
On a trail ride, summer of 2011
And he continued to teach children.
Cochise at summer camp, 2012
Whenever I visited we would pick up where we’d left off.
Jumping bridleless, 2012
For a year Robyn and I took jumping lessons together. I would drive down once a week and we would load the horses up for the short trip down the road to our trainer’s barn.
Ready to roll, 2013
Unfortunately, driving an hour and a half each way to ride was not a sustainable plan. Plus, much as I loved Cochise, our goals were diverging- he was getting older, with a bit more arthritis, and still stressed a lot over going to new places. Meanwhile I was dreaming of more jumping, and eventually eventing.
So I decided to start riding nearer to home, and Cochise stayed at his perfect home, teaching lessons and continuing to lord over a growing herd.
I am so thankful that my horse-my best friend-has such a wonderful place to be and thrive. Robyn has given Cochise the best of care and the finest life a horse could want- lots of time outside being a horse, a job to do, and plenty of doting attention. I miss him, but it’s wonderful to know that I can visit anytime I want, and that Cochise is happy, healthy, and has a forever home.