About Joey Joey
Joey Joey is my horse.
Horse I was looking for when I found Joey: Young, bay, jumping horse that would want to be my best friend.
Horse I bought 2 months into the shopping process: 4 year old, black, barrel racing gelding who didn't know the meaning of the words "fun" and "affection", much less what a friendship was like. Everything was a job to him that needed doing with 100% cooperation and then, and only then, would he get left alone. I couldn't believe he was only 4.
But I bought him. Why? I have no idea. I guess I felt pressured -- things during the shopping process had turned out so wrong (I had tried out three other horses; one died unexpectedly, one was lost in a shady trade, and my dream horse was sold the day I was scheduled to give him a test drive). Betrayal. That's the loudest word that comes to mind when I think about searching for my horse. And it echoed through my first year of ownership.
So I bought Joey, brought him out to the barn where we would board him until our own barn was completed, and I set to work figuring out how to train this introverted horse to fly with me.
Three months later I was frustrated. The push button horse I thought I had bought wouldn't even walk in a straight line for me. He hugged any walls we walked by, and he was freaking out and cutting into the circle during every round pen session. And seeing as how it wasn't exactly love at first sight to begin with, I was reaching the breaking point for my determination to make this work.
It was the same day I had planned on talking to my parents about our problems that the owner of the barn advised me to have a vet check Joey out. Mystified as to what she saw that I didn't, we followed her advice; and in June of 2010, our local vet pronounced my first horse blind.
Now for the decision that would change my life: Do I put down this young horse who refused to even get to know me, or do I jump off a cliff to see just how determined I could be to make an impossible situation work? Everyone I talked to advised me to put him down and start afresh with a horse that I actually wanted. After all, Joey was just a dumb beast who had no idea that the decision of whether he lived or died right here, right now, was in the hands of a young teenage girl who felt like she could never love him.
Unemotional, I found myself telling the vet and God and the whole world that I would keep this blind horse who didn't love me. Why? I have no idea.
Fast forward six months. Joey's sitting in a paddock in my front yard, right outside my bedroom window, ripping up our beautiful front lawn. There are sixteen wooden beams cemented into the ground inside the paddock -- the beginnings of our barn. My new set of [western] tack has just arrived. Nothing like in the fantasy I had dreamed up as a child. Up 'til now, my life with Joey has consisted of going out to dump some grain in a bucket and throw an armful of hay over the fence every morning when I wake and every evening before I go to bed. Nothing beyond that. What am I supposed to do with a blind horse? We certainly can't jump now. What did I expect I would be able to do with a blind horse? I'm too scared to put on our new tack and actually take him for a ride -- can you even ride blind horses? For one thing, it's been months since he's been ridden; for another thing, he's young and full of sweet feed and energy, I'm sure; and finally, there are trees everywhere -- what if he flips out and tries to make me one with a trunk or a branch?
I finally did screw up my courage and saddle Joey for our very first ride together. I had to; my ribbon-winning cousin was coming to visit and I knew she would want to ride my new horse. *gulp* I say it was our first ride together because it was like none other we had gone on before at the boarding barn. You could feel in the air the trust that this experience demanded. Joey had to trust that I wouldn't run him into any danger, and I had to trust that he would trust me.
Fast forward three years -- to the here and now.
Let's put it this way: Anybody who comes out to visit has no idea my horse is blind until I mention it in passing conversation. Joey and I canter up and down the hills and through the woods bareback. My dogs play chase in between his legs while he's grazing or dozing in the shade. My cat will hop onto his back at random times and ride around. He whinnies shrilly every time I go out to the barn for something, whether it's to see him or not. And he loves to play hide and seek.
I've discovered my horse doesn't like any treats except for molasses cookies (although there was that one time he ate my mom's sunflowers. . .?) He has no idea that his "handicap" should limit what he does -- he loves to run, around barrels, around trees, up the hills, and around the paddock, whether we're on horseback or not. He really likes to learn new tricks, too, and show me just how smart he is. (Right now, we're working on the bow.)
Joey has taught me so many life lessons beyond the whole "learning-responsibility-through-getting-a-puppy" kind of thing. He's taught me self control; how nice having a routine can be; gentleness; discipline; forgiveness; [a whole lota] patience; how to laugh often; how to live in the moment; how to look for and appreciate the little things in life; to smile even through the rain; how to fake self confidence. . .
. . .But most of all, my adventure (so far) with Joey Joey has taught me about strong faith. Faith in him as my best friend; faith in my horsemanship; but most importantly, faith in my sovereign God. If it weren't for my God, I wouldn't have ever learned how to do all those things I mentioned I learned from "Joey". I wouldn't be here, and Joey certainly wouldn't. He's the One who keeps us safe on every ride. He's the One who teaches me something new about life using my four legged partner. He's the One who keeps us going. Strong. And together. Never giving up, no matter the odds. No matter who says we're crazy or that it's impossible. Because really, nothing is impossible with God.
Heck, He's even the One who scripted this beautiful and unique love story between a girl and her horse that you will never find anywhere else.
Here's to getting the word out through publishing.
And to Him will always be the glory.