by Terra LeMay
Read by Emily Rankin
Listen to the audio version
You always ruin your first horse.
That's what they used to say back when I was a kid saddle-breaking my first season of
two-year-olds fresh in from the upper pasture, my grandfather's scrubby crossbreeds, part Quarter
Horse, part Hackney or Morgan or I don't know, little more than ponies, really, and all I had to do
was get the buck out so my grandpa could take them to the local livestock sale. The goal: to give
me enough experience so I wouldn't ruin the first horse I would call my own. But you always ruin
your first horse. People said it because it was true.
They were still saying it a few years later when I was putting mileage on young show
jumper prospects for my mother's friends and, by the end of that summer, her clients. Still saying
it a few years after that, too, the first time somebody who didn't know any better said, "Jack, will
you teach me how to ride like you do?"
They don't say it anymore, though. Now they say, "Better luck next time."