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Date:7/22/2014 3:51:52 AM
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CHAPTER ONE - ANNIE'S JOURNAL
2/6/12 Annie's first day at her new home

At 11:00 on the sixth of February, I jumped into the car, breathless and excited, with my bag swung over my shoulder. The 15 minute drive to Fox Haven Farm was faster than I expected, and when we pulled up to the gate I jumped out and hurried inside, lead rope in hand. Annie, a gorgeous palomino Quarter Horse, my favorite lesson horse, was waiting inside, tied to the hitching post, happily munching her breakfast pellets. Annie used to be a reining and Western pleasure horse, but when her first owner and rider went to college, they gave them to their friend, a horse trainer and my horse riding teacher.

I remember, vividly, the first day I met Annie. I had an early lesson, 9 a.m., but I came early to help feed all the horses. There was a new horse, one I had never seen before, in the only previously unoccupied stall. My trainer told me the mare's name, and how the horse had been given to her. The first thing that struck me was the dapple-like marks on Annie's coat. They were gray, and they looked like large, darkish circles on her hindquarters. I gave her her breakfast, a flake of hay and some pellets she was being transitioned over to. She was very amiable, nuzzling me when I entered the stall. I visited her often after that, and kept myself up to date on her training. She was being taught the English discipline.

A while after that, my trainer asked if I'd like to try a lesson on Annie. I was over the moon. I discovered that morning what a treasure Annie was. She had a soft mouth and a 'tell-me-to-jump-and-I'll-say-how-high' attitude. She was smooth and relaxed, the type of horse you just know is going to teach more than you'll teach them. I fell in love with her the moment I had the privilege to be on her back.

She still had work that needed to be done before she would be a dream English riding horse. Although she was 20 years old, she began to learn to jump. She would approach fences fearlessly, and together, we jumped our first vertical. Neither of us had ever jumped that high (if you could even call it 'high') before, but it went smoothly for both of us.

Side by side (or,rather, one on top of the other) we went on to our first show, a small one hosted by my trainer. Annie and I entered a beginner's walk/trot/canter flat class and a super low cross rails class, but I was still nervous for the both of us. We placed last in both.

Later that day we entered in three eventing classes; barrel racing, pole bending and trot racing. Though I was hesitant as neither me nor my mount had ever done any exercises remotely like it, we went on to win the Championship of the division. I couldn't have been prouder of my favorite horse.

A year later, we had advanced so much that I found myself in the highest jumping division at my trainer's next horse show, in the saddle of my all-time favorite horse, Annie. We placed second in the division, amazing, I thought, considering the entire class had
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