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  • Writer's pictureAllen Bornscheuer

The Story of Grace

Hi. My name is High Time’s Star Material. That sounds fancy and it is! I come from royalty. I’m an American Saddlebred and I’m descended from American Saddlebred royalty. I have eight world champions as parents, grandparents or great grandparents. I was born in Michigan on March 25, 2004. It was cold and the barn stayed dark almost all the time. There were no windows and few doors. Perhaps that was to keep the cold out; but it felt like it was to keep the cold in. When I was only four months old, I went to my first horse show. I was very scared getting into that trailer for the first time. When I arrived at the show and I first saw those bright lights and all of those people, I was really excited. When it was my turn to run in front of the crowd; I held my head up and my tail up real high. I was popping my feet so high, I almost hit my chin with my knees! Anyway, all of those humans must have liked it. I could tell by their screaming and yelling. It was crazy. That show ring was packed with horses my age; sixty six in fact! I got fourteenth place. I thought that was pretty good. Two weeks later, we went to another show. This was an even bigger show. Now I knew what the humans wanted me to do; so I really cranked it up! I got first place out of twenty seven horses and won almost 25 thousand dollars! I don’t know what that means exactly, but I thought that at least I would eat well for a long while.

A year and a half later, when I was almost two, I was sold to another farm. Now, I guess, I’m getting pretty good at those trailers. I get on and off, just like the humans get in and out of their cars. That was also a very nice show barn and I had a pretty good pampered life; plenty of grass in the summer and a nice stall in the winter. I got washed and groomed regularly. Not long after I got there, I got to really like this big grey stallion and two years later when I was four, we had a baby. She was the cutest little thing ever! She popped her legs when she ran much like I did in those early horse shows. Unfortunately, our time together was brief. I really did not even have time to get to know her. That farm sold me and shipped me off just two months after my baby was born. I hear that she has gone on to do great things. She inherited her father’s grey and has won many horse shows. I still feel sad that I could not have spent more time with her. I didn’t even get to nurse her very long.

The new family that bought me didn’t do horse shows like the barns that I lived in before. They taught me to pull a small carriage; and pull it I did. I loved pulling their carriage. I took them to the stores, I took them to church. I took the kids to school. I wasn’t afraid. I’m not afraid of cars or trucks or motorcycles or almost anything. For years I pulled their carriage, up steep hills and down, in the rain, the snow, the heat; no matter. I love people and I love when they love me. The horse shows seem like such a long time ago. After a few years, I started to get real sore on my legs trotting on those hard roads. The humans did something to my legs called pin firing. That means that they stuck my legs with hot pokers to scar them and strengthen the tendons. It was so painful. I carried on for months after that, but it was getting to be too much for me. I started to trip and fall pulling the carriage and kept skinning my knees. Unfortunately, this happened often enough that I developed scars on my knees. I no longer was dependable for my humans to bring them where they needed to go. I felt horrible that I had let them down.

I guess that they felt that way too, as I soon found myself loaded onto a trailer and headed to a place where all of us horses were in one large, muddy pen. I was used to my own stall in a barn, with a roof over my head, wood shavings under me, fresh water all the time, hay and grain twice a day. But here, there were many of us of all different kinds, breeds, sizes, shapes and sizes; big draft horses that used to pull plows, Saddlebreds like me that pulled carriages or were ridden; even some little babies and some mommas. It was sad. Also, there were some stallions that wanted to “love” us and some angry, bitter horses that just wanted to bite and kick anything that came close. I understand how they felt; it was a scary place. I wanted to get out of there anyway I could.

In a couple of days, they glued number tags to our hips and paraded us one by one, in front of a crowd of humans. Some of us were picked and went home with new humans. Some of us, like me, were not picked and went back to the muddy pen. I was getting very hungry by now, as I hadn’t eaten in many days. The hay that was put out for all of us, I had to fight for. After a couple of days, we were all shoved into a big trailer. They screamed and used whips to get us all in there, till we could hardly move. Then they closed the doors and drove off. There was biting and kicking, and it was really cold with the wind blowing through that trailer. The cold made me remember back to when I was a foal and went to my first horse show. Life was better then. I was royalty then. I was fed well and groomed back then. It seemed like a very long time ago.

The trailer dropped us at another disgusting, muddy pen and again shoved us out, all together. What happened to the fields of lush, green grass that I used to run in? What happened to grazing whenever you felt like it? What happened to my mom, to my baby?! I can barely remember them now. I hate mud. I love the stars over my head, but I hate the cold rain in my face.

At this pen, they took pictures of us, rode us, took videos and posted us on something called the internet. Whatever that is, I guess it worked! Because in a couple of days this nice man who smiles a lot came with a big, white, warm trailer with clean water and plenty of hay, picked me up and drove off. There were no whips, no cramming into one small space, no bitter, cold wind in my face; not on this trip! It was a long ride, but that nice man visited me in the trailer several times, petted me, spoke to me so nicely, and kept refilling my hay and water. Before too long, we stepped off the trailer into warm sunshine and I was walked to my own stall. How great it felt to again have my own dry, clean stall with fresh bedding, hay and grain! I got to meet other nice girls too, (I don’t like boy horses much after those nasty, muddy, cold pens). But here’s the best part - now I get to teach little kids how to ride! They are so cute and give me treats every time they ride me. I am always a good girl and do what I am asked. I just want to please. I love this life! Here, there are no carriages, no hills, no rain in your face, no snow; no standing tied to a rail for hours waiting for humans.

Now, I get to please my humans and they please me. This is what I loved to do when I was a kid, this is what I loved about pulling carriages. Only now, I have little kids on my back and I have taught them a lot! Some had never touched a horse before me. Most had never even sat on a horse before. Now they are sitting on me and riding and we’re both having a blast! And do you know the best part?! We’re going back again to horse shows and I can hear those humans yelling and screaming for me like when I was four months old! And on top of that, I get all the grain and hay I want - and plenty of treats. But none of that is as good as the affection of these humans. Call me crazy, but I feel like royalty again, just seeing them happy and feeling their love.

Oh, and before I forget; my new humans don’t call me High Times Star Material. They call me Gracie. I still have those scars on my knees from all of the falling I did pulling the carriage. But that’s alright; I am full of Grace as I carry my little passengers for every Saturday and Sunday lesson. #wesave2 #serenitysaviors #gracie #saddlebreds

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