My mom was the driving force for my equestrian life. Above is a photo of her and her first pony, Patches. I believe she was around 10 when she first started riding and got Patches. She saw an ad in the local paper for a pony and convinced her mom to take her to try it out. Patches was listed for $300. Somehow, the pony came home for little charge and lived in their small backyard. My mom told me of when she first rode Patches he bucked and bolted, throwing her off. For some strange reason, my mom loved him.
Somewhere around this time my grandfather leased and managed a small boarding stable in the San Diego river valley, where a giant mall currently sits. My mom told me about how one time it flooded and they had to go and rescue all the horses in the middle of the night.
One of the horses that boarded there was an OTTB chestnut gelding named Cartego. His owners owed back board and he had a lock around the gate to his pipe corral. My mom was 14 at the time, and her father had a proposition for her. She was outgrowing her pony at a quick rate and was needing to move up soon. He asked her if she would rather have Cartego now or a car when she was 16. Like any teenager bitten by the horse bug, she chose the horse.
The horse was hot and known for being kind of a jerk. She almost fell off nearly every time she rode him. When she started driving she had him in full training at a barn in Rancho Santa Fe, where she worked around the barn to pay for her lessons. He always seemed to have his own mind on what they should do when they were training at home. But my mom wasn't worried, as soon as she stepped in the show ring, she said he became a different horse. Cartego loved to show off.
My mom recalls how they could never get any flying changes at home, but in the ring he offered auto changes whenever necessary. My mom showed him in the A circuit in San Diego, with her friends who are now well known trainers in the area. One time, my mom completely forgot her show boots to a show and borrowed a pair from her male friend and fellow competitor. She ended up wining the classic.
My mom had Cartego until his last breath. He was her heart horse and I know she'd give anything to take him around the show ring one last time. She continued to dabble in the amateurs until us kids were the main priority. She tried so hard to get my older brother and sister involved in horses, but unfortunately (fortunately for me!) they weren't interested.
I am incredibly lucky my mom dragged me to the barn with her at every waking moment and that a few months before I turned 9 years old, I got to start taking riding lessons. She took a long riding hiatus from when I became a teenager to just this last year. I can't wait for summer to be riding with her again, except now I'm the one giving her lessons and shouting at her to keep her fingers closed!