GilliganSix weeks. Three trailering delays. One nasty gash during transport. One emergency vet call. Six stitches. And a whole lot of hair pulled out in the interim, but the time has finally, finally arrived. My new horse is safely home, mostly in one piece, and it’s time to introduce him to the world. So world, meet the very lovable Gilligan! He’s a six-year-old Irish Draught gelding, and I must confess that makes me happier than I can say.

Ever since I first started lessons more than 20 years ago, I’ve had a very soft spot for the breed. The first school horse I ever loved, George, was part Irish Draught, and admittedly I’ve been obsessed with them ever since. But it isn’t just Gilligan’s breed that has me completely smitten. It’s everything about him. His personality, his handsome good looks, his willingness to try. Goodness, I’m starting to sound like a smitten girl getting her first horse. It’s wonderful!

But I am a touch more realistic than I was when I bought my first horse. I know it won’t be all unicorns and rainbows. I have already had to call the vet out after all. There are bound to be a few more bumps along the way. Especially considering while he’s been started under saddle, he hasn’t actually been ridden in more than a year. Well, apart from my sister and I popping on him on the lunge line when we went to go and try him. They couldn’t even get the bridle on him so it was quite the adventure! But he proved himself a good boy, not too phased by being asked to do things he hasn’t done in a good long while. I hope that bodes well for our future together. I’m just so excited about how our partnership will grow over the coming years.
And with a new chapter beginning in my life, it is time to close one as well. After more than two years of sharing my adventures of getting back into riding with you all, it’s time to stop pounding away at the keyboard and get on to more riding! So it’s with mixed emotions that I announce this will be the final Rusty Stirrup blog.

It has been a pleasure letting you in on my struggles and triumphs, and even more of a joy sharing the antics of Luc with everyone. Don’t worry, just because I have a horse of my own doesn’t mean I’ll be spending any less time feeding cookies to my favourite big grey beast! In fact, now that I have a horse of my own at the same place, I’ll be spending even more time with him. It means that my sister Jen and I will finally be able to ride together. A dream realized for sure. And one that has been a very long time in the making.

Thank you all for your words of encouragement and support as I worked my way back into the saddle these past two years. It has meant so much to read your comments. And a very special thank you to Jen. Without your generous offer to lend me Luc, none of this would have been possible. I never would have found my passion again. I never would have gotten back in the saddle. The opportunity you gave me has meant the world. Because of you I can truly say I am a rusty rider no more.

But for those of you who aren’t ready to say goodbye, don’t fret, you’ll see me and Gilligan and Jen and Luc again. Look for us on the trails, and at the horse shows. We’ll be around. And you can always catch me on Twitter (@rustystirrup) where I’ll be flooding my feed with photos and updates and sharing all our grand adventures.

I will close out this final blog with some words of encouragement for anyone who wants to start riding, or get back into it after an extended break like I did. For some of us, horses are part of our blood. Songs in our soul. No matter how long you’re away from them, they will always welcome you back. Just so long as you aren’t afraid to trust them. It’s not always easy. In fact, there will be times bringing horses into your life may feel like the hardest thing in the world. But if you’re open to it, if you’re willing to try, they will bring you joy, happiness, and peace. They certainly have for me.
Best wishes to all of you, and don’t forget to enjoy every second you get to spend in the saddle!