I don't remember the first time I actually laid eyes on Jingle, but I remember hearing stories about him in 2009. Who knows how much of this borders on the truth, but what i've gathered is that he had been sent to the trainers as a five year old, and had subsequently broken his jaw somewhere along the line. It went undiscovered, and healed without vetrinary assistance, and due to this his jaw is slightly deformed on one side. He came home, and when they went to ride him, he took the bit and violently lunged at things, probably because he was in an immense amount of pain. Not fully realizing his jaw problems, and probably thinking he was a total nut job, he was turned out with the herd, and left alone for a year.
very first ride
The next year, 2010, he was turned out on our "back 40" (read: 1300 acres) and was found one day, covered in blood, with a stick shoved into his sheath. He was brought back to the ranch, it was removed, and he was seemingly fine. They decided that he would be ridden again, i'm sure someone rode him that summer before me, but I can't remember. Anyways, I had been riding colts all summer, and had, had really good luck with some really calm, awesome horses. They decided that I would ride Jingle. It was raining and I was told, in a very gruff way, that either "I rode him in a sweater, or could ride another horse in a rainjacket". I rode him in a sweater. I also tossed out my loud flappy raincoat and invested in an oilskin. Our first ride was pretty uneventful, he didn't want to go up a steep hill and needed a buddy, but other than that I can't remember anything untoward happening. That night, I broke my arm, and he was forgotten about for the rest of the season.
In 2011, I came to the ranch in the spring to help setup for the camp season. I was told that Jingle had gotten into some barbed wire out in his winter pasture, and was lame - so lame he might not walk again. When he came home, he had healed, and didn't show any signs of lameness, but My FHGM (Fairy-Horse-God-Mother), was still skeptical about Jingle and his attitude, but I got on him anyway. I rode him in the roundpen the first day, and I think he was squirelly for a minute, and then settled right down. The next day, I rode him out on a 1 hr trail, he did awesome. I remember how fast he walked out, and my FHGM telling me what a good quality that is to have in a horse. That summer I rode him extensively I even led trail rides on him. He was pretty green to lead on though. We had quite a few moments of frusteration, probably a combination of his inexperience, and my own. I would be loping, and suddenly he'd be in the trees, we'd be crossing a river, and suddenly he'd be up on the bank. At one point, he decided to stop turning left. My kids thought it was hilarious, he was, and continues to be quite the character. Another time my FHGM was talking to someone about him, she never really liked him all that much, but she told the person, "well, you know, he sure does love Louisa - follows her like this big old puppy dog with this total look of love in his eyes." That's my boy.
I probably perpetrated the rumours about him, that he was "crazy", because even the thought of someone else brushing him would sent me into a jealous, nervous panic-rage. I can still feel the bubbles in my stomach rising up into my throat... I used to have re-occurring nightmares of other people riding him and ultimately hurting him. It was horrible. That's the thing with loving a horse so much, and not owning him, you have no say.
So, at the end of summer, I had it in my head I wanted to buy him, but was talked out of it. The idea of half-leasing was thrown around, but they never contacted me, and he ended up back on winter pasture. A day did not go by where I didn't think about him. In the end, the extra year was a good thing, I learned a lot in the time away from him that better prepared me for horse ownership, and riding a horse like him. But, it was one of the most painful decisions I've ever made. In the late winter of 2012 I told the ranch I wanted to buy him, and we set up an agreement, two months later, it was announced the ranch was for sale, and all the horses would be sold in auction, no private sales. I had just barely missed a bullet.
I headed out to the ranch in the Spring to once again get ready for camp, and expected for my horse to be waiting for me. He had been sent out on our "back 40", I spent weekends and weekends looking for him, probably over 24 hours in total - he, and the main herd, were nowhere to be found. It was discovered gates into neighbouring properties had been left open, and our entire herd was 10 miles away, on a massive section of land. He was spotted in two different properties with 4 other babies, and there was a moment I wondered if I would ever see him again. Camp was drawing closer and closer, and I knew that I wouldn't have time to go out and search for him once kids began arriving. One night I headed out after supper, I barely had time to even look in the area he was suppose to be in, it started to get dark as I headed back. I think I cried the whole way home. I was devastated.
welcome home, baby boy!
Three weeks later, two other "riding leaders", who weren't working that week decided they were going to go find my long-lost horse. They packed lunch and dinner, a fact I didn't know until after, and headed out. I, meanwhile, took a group out. 2 hours later, we were heading back to the barns, and as I got into the corral, I saw one of the two people walking back to the lodge. I didn't know if that was a good sign, or a bad sign, but when she turned around and yelled my name, with a big smie on her face, I figured my horse was probably near. She pointed to the corrals, and there he was, hanging out with two little itty bitty 2 year old paints, and a massive black percheron cross. I jumped the panel, and he went to move away from me (wouldn't you? some crying thing that appears to be leaping towards you) and I just said, "woah, Jingle". He stopped, and looked right at me, and I just threw my arms around his neck and cried, I was so happy. My poor kids thought I was deranged, I looked up to see them all staring at the spectacle that was my life. Great. I'm nuts.
I didn't ride him much at all, just spent time loving on him, grooming him and braiding him - so all the ranch horses could make fun of my poor pansy. I had the vet out to look at his jaw, he had his first dental float, he had a lameness exam, he got his first set of shoes on - life was suddenly becoming very different for my wild pony. The last ride of the season, and potentially ever, all the counsellors went for a massive 40 person ride. Him and I frolicked about, hanging out everywhere we could in line, loping through rivers, and just generally enjoying the ride. My last thought of the ride was how exceptionally lucky I was to have the horse I do.
Jingle arrived to his new home, my barn, on September 1, 2012 at approximately 3:30 pm. Although he was out of his element, I think he loves all the activity surrounding him. He's a people-watcher, he loves to soak things in. He never, ever fails to make me smile. His first owner said that he had decided to keep Jingle when he was a baby because he was inquisitive, and because he was always the first to come say hello, and was interested in people. I think a lot of that holds true to his nature today. Our future holds quite a bit of training, and retraining, on both of our parts, and who knows from there? I am just happy to be able to spend time in his furry, often ridiculous, sometimes problematic, presence.
So, when I am asked about why I chose him, of all the horses I have ridden, and how I knew it was him, I still don't really know the answer. I think my young, inexperienced self probably liked the idea of a bit of a rogue personality. Although, I have learned, he is anything but. Of course, I also fell for his looks - he is the first paint I ever really found attractive, and now I'm a bit obsessed about the breed and all their flashy variations. A friend of mine once said in conversation that pinpointing why you have a connection with something is almost impossible - especially when it comes to horses. I really think this is true, because I could say it's his looks, but they are horses with better conformation and flashier colouring then him. I could say it's his personality, but he has some demons in his closet that really, truly get to me sometimes. I could say it's how he is on the ground, but every once and awhile he gets a firm slap for trying to step on top, over, and under me. I can't quite say why I love him so much, but I do, and when he looks at me, I absolutely know that he trusts me and loves me just as much. That is pretty priceless.
I guess we were both just really lucky that he was the colt I never had to give away.
I love ya, big man.