by Emily Baker
It’s funny the way life works out. As hard as we try to plan and organize – and if you know me at all you know how hard I try to do both of these things – it never works out the way we had expected.
Now I know what you’re thinking: Emily, nobody buys a horse on accident. You have to deliberately sit down and write the check, or wire the funds, or withdraw the cash from your account and physically place it in someone’s hands. You’re right; I did have to physically (and intentionally) do those things. But when I went to try horses, I was an elementary school teacher making less than an office assistant makes in a year (that hasn’t changed) and I knew that I couldn’t afford a horse. I had no intention of actually buying one of the horses I tried. Until I found Coco.
would happily be eating chicken flavored Ramen noodles for the next five years if it meant I could have a horse.
So you see… I did deliberately put money in other people’s hands to buy Coco, but I had never had the intention of doing so. It was an accident you might say. But it was the best accident of my life.
Until of course I got her home and rode her for the first time. She resembled a hot off the track thoroughbred that day (and for the month or two following.) And then the immediate buyer’s remorse set in where I was trying to control my blood pressure with my mind to stave off the impending heart attacks.
There was no amount of leverage I could get in order to keep my new mare at a manageable pace. Not to mention what would happen when you put a jump in front of her… I’m lucky I didn’t go flying off unwillingly into the sunset with that mare in full control of the steering and brakes every single day.
Coco never did slow down. But I caught up to her a little bit. Meanwhile all of the mothers watching from the viewing room were still wide-eyed and white-knuckled gripping the nearest object as if they were pulling on the reins for me. We played around at some A shows, something she had never done before in her life. I can’t even count the occasions that I would collapse on her neck after a course proclaiming “holy crap I love this horse!” A sentiment I echoed verbatim just a few days ago on what was to be my last day getting to ride that marvelous creature.
You see, I learned at those A shows that, as much as Coco loved to jump, she herself was limited to a height that was lower than what I aspired to do. That same darn teacher salary could not afford to pay for a horse I couldn’t show. She was put up for sale and sold just a few short days ago. It was the hardest thing I have had to do in my life thus far.
Granted, I have sold horses in the past, ones I had owned for many years longer than I owned Coco. But this little horse that I bought on accident was different. She was the horse that got me back into riding and competing after a two-year hiatus. She was the horse who showed me that riding could be fun and not a fear-ridden leap of faith at every obstacle. She was the horse who reminded me why I've loved this crazy sport since I myself was in elementary school. For that, and so much more, I will owe that little horse for the rest of my life.
I have found from this that so many of the best things in my life have been “accidents.” Or perhaps you might say they were serendipitous- destiny even. This is a lesson that I will always remember from Coco. Though I will never stop planning and organizing (I can thank my mother for those qualities) sometimes it’s important to just let life happen. Thank you, Coco, for teaching me that.