Perhaps the best way to demonstrate how horses can create change in people is to tell you a few stories of my own. If you’re into horses long enough, eventually that One Horse shows up in your life: the one who gives you fits, the one who challenges all your supposed experience. The one who makes you realize you don’t know anything. This horse becomes what I call a “Waterloo Horse” unless we seek help and grow beyond our current boundaries. And, sometimes, this is the horse who leads us to unexpected places.
This is the story of my “Waterloo Horse”.
After taking a few years off from horses for college and grad school while in my 20s, I moved to Texas and officially got back into horses. Susan Denero—or ‘Black-Eyed Sue’—came to me the summer of 1998 as a 4-year-old registered dun paint broodmare. When I saw her for the first time at a horse show, I thought she looked great. Her owners were there to help her acclimate to the show environment. I was so excited to see her that I didn’t stop long enough to consider the twisted-wire snaffle bit they were using—and why they might be using it. It should have been my first clue; it’s the classic “normal” bit for the hard-to-control horse.
The more important thing to know, however, is Sue was actually my second Waterloo horse. I had sold her predecessor, named Brandy, because I kept hitting one wall after another until finally, out of sheer frustration, I sold her. Of course, I was convinced the issues were Brandy’s fault, not mine. In the back of my mind I suspected differently, but everyone around me knew more, so I listened with relief to their suggestions that I sell her and get another horse more suited to me.