Before I had finished signing my name on the final page of our farm lease agreement I already planned on finding a lesson pony. I didn't exactly have a line of kids waiting outside my gate but I have never been one to slowly (dare I say rationally) take on new adventures- in other words, if I am going to do it, by all means, I am going to leap.
Bandita was not originally on my radar but there was something enticing and even endearing in her expression. She was wonderfully quiet and satisfied to be curried and rubbed, there seemed to be no exhaustion of her patience in the cross-ties. The likelihood of a suitable kids horse ended there. She didn't stand for the mounting block. She was awkward and uncomfortable to steer. With a long back, she was not naturally balanced and fell so much to the inside I swear if I had reached my hand out in her canter I probably could have touched the ground.
But she always looked me in the eye and a great jockey told me he choose his starts by simply looking the horses in the eyes; "The ones that return the gaze are too smart to lose." So I bet all my money on little Bandita and brought her home.
WIth no other horse have I made so much progress so quickly. I do not say this as a tribute to my talent (really, I take no credit at all) but merely the intelligence and willingness of this little paint mare. She is not the typical show pony, she was bred and branded on some ranch in Idaho where she probably roamed with cows. She probably grew thick hair and drank from streams as she spent a good chunk of her life grazing the open land. She makes a funny contrast parked next to a Holsteiner who is as beautiful a show jumper on paper as she is in the ring. But little Bandita traded in a western saddle and in two days has balanced transitions. She can lengthen and collect. By god, she can even canter. On top of this, she is the cutest little mover. She will lift her little belly, come right into my hand and carry herself with as much poise as those little Farnleys my mom is always going on about. We even jumped!
In short, Bandita is a fabulous testament to the power in one's willingness and desire to learn. It doesn't matter the natural shortcomings in conformation or social status, our trajectory is more a matter of personal effort and determination then fate. We are proud to have Bandita in the family.