While I might have been terribly spoiled to have my Heart Horse be my very first horse, it’s my second horse (this oft-stubborn, sometimes-goofy, playful-doesn’t-act-anywhere-near-his age golden and white creature) who has the distinct honor of being my main man, my sun and stars and the very reason why I get up in the morning (because if I don’t, and haul ass out there to feed him, he’s going to make mischief.) I love my little black mare dearly, and I have equal love for both my golden boy and my diva princess, but Mitch has been one of the best things that has ever come into my life.
The year 2007 had been a devastating one for me. In a way, I lost two horses. First, there had been Flair, my big red Heart Horse — who lived to the ripe old age of 30 and could still shake a leg down the rail at a canter under saddle like nobody’s business — who had to be put down due to colic complications in June. I had just seen history being made the day before, a filly won the Belmont Stakes, and I had let my old horse graze in the summer sunset before heading home, never knowing what that next day would bring. And then, less than six months later, another one was gone from my life (although she would return nearly four years later, to the day) when my lease for my little black mare had gone bottoms up and I got the hell out of Dodge before it got worse. I sunk into a pretty bleak sort of despair. I desperately knew I wanted another horse to work with, but was having trouble making it happen. And the weather was miserable too, all rainy and gray and regardless, it didn’t help my mood much.
But gradually, things got better, and I was able to try a few horses, but I didn’t seem to click with them, and they were all far enough away that I could only really try them once. So I started looking a little harder, broadening my search, and trying to be more open to the possibilities. Right after Flair died, I had seen an ad posted at the feed store for a Haflinger for sale at the therapeutic riding center, but I hadn’t really paid it much attention. I was just starting my lease with Jet, and wasn’t planning on buying another horse at the time. Lo and behold, all those many months later, said Haflinger was still for sale. Being local enough that I figured I could try him a few times and see how things went, I took a chance.
Going by his sale picture, he didn’t look terribly flattering, and I’d never seen a Haflinger before in my life. It’s a breed that was almost unheard of in my area (a.k.a The Land of Hunter/Jumpers and Dressage Queens). He was cute, he was floofy, and he had almost no ass to speak of. But he seemed to fit a few criteria in what I was looking for in a horse (short, they said he loved water, and good feet). I tried him on a Tuesday, after having been sick for almost the whole week prior to my first ride with Mitch. I liked this horse. I really really liked this horse. And so, I made an offer, made arrangements to have him shipped to my barn for a trial and vet check, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Getting his life’s story from his papers was pretty amazing. His registered name is Mighty Mitch MRH, he was born in Ohio, and very nearly shares a birthday with me, for reals (I figure there’s only about 12-24 hours between us, depending what time he was born on March 2nd while my birthday is March 3rd. He was trained to drive and pull carriages up north in the San Francisco Bay area, and I’ve since kept up a correspondence with the people who had him prior to the therapeutic riding center getting him.
I originally bought Mitch as a trail horse, but he’s sort of evolved into a jack-of-all-trades horse. We sometimes dabble in dressage (rarely, because I’m not always wanting to work that hard), sometimes, I’ll toss a western saddle on him, and for a while I could drive him as well (although that’s on a temporary hiatus since I broke my leg in May of 2015 while driving the cart, and I haven’t been inclined to hitch again since). Mitch is to me, my Monster, my Mooch-man, my Golden Boy, and if he’s being naughty … That %^&* Pony! Where would I be without him?