Halfway through college, I returned to my riding career after a several year break due to an accident involving a bad fall. I began lessons again and quickly regained my once lost skills. Upon graduating from college, I began a full lease on a horse of my trainer’s. After leasing for a little over a year, I decided that we weren’t the best fit for each other and that I wanted to look for something else. I tried leasing a couple more of my trainer’s horses and then began the search to buy. I tried at least 15 horses before finding Z. I even almost bought one, until he failed his vetting due to an old racing injury. In late June 2017, I found Z’s ad and went to see him.
Who? Yeah, this was Z’s registered name before I got a hold of him. Even worse, they called him Boss around the barn. It was pretty hilarious because his personality is the opposite of bossy. Now, this horse was not what I was looking for. He was only 5, had been shown just under halter, had been started in Western Pleasure, and I was over there looking for a solid hunter. With my budget, I quickly realized that I basically had two options when it came to buying a horse. I could buy a finished hunter that was a great deal older and could expect maintenance and limited years with, or I could buy something younger and green that needed their training finished. I had a lot of experience helping my trainer work with her green and young horses, so this is the route I chose. When I first went to see him, he was underweight and had no muscle. He was in a barn that allowed no turnout for horses in training and sales. Overall, he was just in bad shape.
He was so quiet though. He enjoyed being groomed and being given attention. Then when I rode him for the first time, it was such a joy. He has big long movements with an easy to sit trot and rolling canter. Boss didn’t know much at all, but he was so willing to try anything I asked him. I came back to ride a few more times and after trying some different exercises like poles and cavalettis, I decided on him. I can’t really explain how else I decided except for the fact that I just knew. It was and is something special.
Welcome Home Zephyr
I brought him home and Bossini became Zephyr (Z). We began our long journey ahead. Months of solely flatwork were needed to build his muscle. This became frustrating as I love jumping and I was having to miss out. He couldn’t hold a canter longer than a lap without falling out, his leads were a joke, and ground poles were clobbered through. My trainer didn’t like him and it showed. It felt like no one believed in me that I could make something out of this horse, and I was starting to believe it myself. Later on, I reintroduced small cavalettis and small cross rails. This didn’t go over well. Z would crash through them, refuse them, and even broke some of them. It wasn’t working and I began thinking of options of how to get rid of him and find a new horse.
About 9 months after I had brought Z home, some friends introduced me to a new trainer. This was a pivotal moment in our journey. She came to my barn to give us a lesson and work with him, and instilled the first bit of confidence in me. She made it clear that he was a quality horse, a great mover, and that he could do it. She told me we would make a hunter out of him. Just this confidence boost changed the way I was riding and working with Z. I quickly started to see improvements in his quality of flatwork and his jumping abilities.
Here is a little transformation video I put together so you can get a better idea of where Z came from and where we are today. 😊
The Happy Ending
Fast forward a couple months and I moved barns to train with her. We have grown so much ever since then! Z is now successfully hacking around 2ft courses and has competed in his first season of local hunter shows. I have jumped him up to 3ft and he seems to love his job! I am so glad that I did not give up on him. We have formed such a strong bond through all of our failures and successes. Now I am relying on him much more to take care of me through a course than how he used to need me! I trust him with all my heart and feel so safe and steady with him.
We still have A LOT of work ahead of us. He’s trying to learn his flying changes and how to carry himself in a frame. Not one bit of this was easy in the past and I don’t expect it to be easy now or in the future. This has definitely been one of the hardest things that I have ever done. However, it has also been the most rewarding.
If you have any questions about Z’s training process or looking for a horse to buy, please reach out to me! I’d love to use what I have learned to help in any way.
-Hannah + Z