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Guest Columnist
November 25, 2014
Thanksgiving Special: The Horses In Our Lives
By Eirin Bruheim
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 :: Posted 10:53:16 AM EST

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© The Book LLC: Eirin Bruheim and NLF Billy On ShowEirin Competing at the 2014 American Gold Cup

Horses have a special place in all of our hearts, and with Thanksgiving right around the corner, now is the time to show them how much we appreciate everything they do for us. Eirin Bruheim of Nordic Lights Farm submitted this special letter, thanking each of the horses that have been a part of her life. We can all remember the lessons our horses taught us, and Eirin has shared some of hers, going from a pony ride to the grand prix ring. 

To all the equines who have guided me along the way:

Dear Texas, you were the first horse I rode. I saw you at the birthday party and I could not believe I could get on all 18 hands of you, but I did. I remember my struggle to hold my balance on your lumbering walk. I also remember this feeling of peace, that finally I had found something that transcended the heaviness of everyday life. The view was like nothing else and as soon as it was done I knew it was just the beginning. You inspired me to badger my parents for MONTHS in order to get lessons. I would not give up because I remembered the feeling I had sitting on your back as you took care of me even though you had the ability to do any but that. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Dear Robert, you were the second horse I ever rode. After months of work my parent succumbed to my will and let me have lessons. You had only one eye yet still you trusted every single thing I told you to do. Half of what I said was incomprehensible non-sense and the other was utterly wrong. However, you forgave time and time again for the sharp aid I put on, the brutal halts I commanded and every other thing I did. You taught me that the only way to achieve anything is to trust your partner, even though every sign said you shouldn’t. You took me to my first show and gave me a blue ribbon. You showed me that I could actually win, and gave me the confidence to dream bigger. You made me feel like I could do anything, the most beautiful feeling in the world. I thank you with all I am and all I have yet to become.

© SIRE: TikkiDear Tikk (right)i, you were the third horse I ever rode. More importantly you were the first horse that I owned. You taught me hard work; you made me work, but never destroyed my confidence. The amount of times I laid on your neck holding on for dear life, as you relived your racehorse past around the 100+ acre property, are countless. However, after a few times I realized that I was fine that you would slow down and we would continue our lesson exhausted, but safe. You taught me that speed, although scary, was not a bad thing, that sometimes the baggage of a horse is what makes her perfect. I took you in my first dressage shows, as we pranced around the ring (far from perfect) I remember thinking that it was okay because all the things that were right we had learned together. We did our first three-day together. We won a few, and lost most. However, it did not matter because you took me out of my comfort zone and showed me winning was amazing, but sometimes the only thing that matters is that we finished, that we overcame every fear for that course and survived just fine… even though I was sure jumping into the water from the bank would spell certain death! You also taught me how to deal with injury. You hurt yourself and would never jump again, but it did not matter we continued to do dressage. When you healed, you taught me that control isn’t garnered by force, but by teamwork and understanding. I thank you for being the best first horse I could have ever asked for in my life.

Dear Rose, I remember buying you from Peter Pletcher before I even knew he was someone very important. You were the fanciest horse I had ever seen. Shiny coat, four white socks and what movement! You took me to my first hunter shows and opened the doors to this new world. Oh the number of times we won, even though I had no Idea what I was doing, were countless. We won our first equitation class and eventually you took me to championships in the children’s hunter and juniors. You taught me to be a gentle and quiet rider; an aspect I try to remember on every horse I get on. Most importantly you taught me that the only way to win was to work for it, and even then the victory wasn’t certain. You also instilled in me a fierce competitiveness that I still have today. I thank you for being there for all those years.

Dear Moon, you were a new ride for me, A JUMPER. I never thought I could do it but there you came running into my life. I did not think jumpers were for me, but I obliged my mother and tried. Then, when I won the class, I was hooked on it. However you were always a fickle one, we either won or we failed brilliantly! You taught me, rather sassily, that sometimes I actually needed to find a spot. Moreover, you showed me that the jumpers were the most liberating thing in the entire universe. The ability to gallop around a course and feel the adrenaline at every short turn, fast stretch and sometimes recklessness is the purest form of joy I know. Nothing has ever compared to it, not by a long shot. I thank you for being a teacher and mentor to me.

 © Flashpoint: Eirin Bruheim and Moon

Eirin Bruheim and Moon

Dear Shania,” the tank, the diva, the winner” You took me to the junior hunters and showed me that every trip was a new chance to show how much we worked. You showed me that sometimes it’s okay not to know all the answers and trust the partner you love and cherish to help you out. On the good days we were great, on the bad days we weren’t too bad either. I thank you for showing me that a partnership won’t always win, but it is always a thing to strive for.

© Shawn McMillen Photography: Eirin and Pal

Dear Chester, you were my first import horse. We were bound for the junior jumpers. You showed me that if I worked 100% you would give 200% in the ring. You taught me speed on a whole new level. We eventually reached the open classes and you taught me that even when we don’t win a round can still be amazing. You gave me confidence to try my best even when I had no chance to win. And you know what? Sometimes we did win! I thank you for showing me the big rings and forgiving my inexperience.

Dear Pal (left), you my friend were special indeed. There was no stretch of the course where you wouldn’t cross canter, no matter how hard we trained it. We never ever got to you give and round your back. We never EVER got you to do any type of flat work properly. You were a misfit deluxe. That’s why you were special, you taught me that even though there is a proper way to ride around a course, sometimes you have to ride what you have and not worry about what you do differently. You were a winner despite not being a ‘proper’ show jumper. I thank you for showing me that sometimes you need to adapt to a horse and forget about changing them.

Dear Conner, my sweet little boy. I still ride you today in shows, though we jump lower. Eight years strong and more to come. You took me in my first grand prix and to my first national and international competitions. Indoors became a reality as well as the young rider championships. You gave me my first taste of team competition and of championship competitions. You are a once in a lifetime horse. The times we have won are countless, and boy are we fast! You taught me that sometimes you ride on the edge of no control to win, and sometime on luck and a prayer. Thank you for showing me the top of the sport and for continuing to teach me day by day with love, devotion and perseverance.

© Al Cook: Eirin WIHS 2009 Conner

Eirin at WIHS in 2009 with Conner

Dear Claire, I rode you for only a few shows, because it did not quite work out. You were a great horse, but we did not work together. You taught me that just because a horse is amazing, doesn’t mean it is right for you. I thank you for the wisdom to see that it doesn’t make me a bad rider.

Dear Felix, I am afraid we were tricked when we bought you. We were promised a confident, been-there-done-that horse and instead found a scared and insecure horse with TONS of talent. I had to take you way down to puddle jumpers and work you up. After a few years you turned into the promised horse, showing your talent by competing in the Prix s and welcome s and occasionally winning a few. You taught me that sometimes we get tricked, but the result is still an amazing horse. You taught me that sometimes instead of learning from a horse you need to teach a horse confidence and security. You showed me that you do not need to win or compete in the big classes to have a great victory. Every time in the ring was a battle, I never gave up and you never stopped trying to understand and please me. I thank you for showing me that I did not need a made horse to succeed, I just needed to work harder.

 © Sport Fot: Eirin Bruheim Chantilly Q 2011Dear Q (right), I bought you a week before Young Riders and then ended up riding you in the championship because Conner got hurt. It was my first time and I was scared out of my mind. But you were old faithful and you didn’t bat an eye at the gigantic obstacles, the likes of which I had never seen. In the end we only dropped two rails and it secured my nomination to the 2010 Youth Olympic qualification list, along with riders I had previously watched with awe and reverence. I eventually won the spot and got to represent the United States in an 18 and under Olympics in Singapore. Without you I would never have gotten the chance. I thank you for being the best teacher and an amazing horse who took my long shot dreams and made them attainable.

Dear E.T., although we owned you for a long time I only rode you a handful of times in your last grand prix’s. You had so much baggage and you were not an easy horse at all. You taught me that sometimes when I tried my best and you tried your best it just was not good enough. You also showed me that although you let me down, you were still my best friend and I would never ever be mad or hurt you. I might be an avid competitor now, but you made me remember that I did not start riding to win a ribbon or money. I started riding because I loved horses and everything you guys are. You taught me that I am first and foremost a loving owner and a competitor way down on the list.

Dear Sir, you my friend will always hold a special place in my heart and life. You showed me my first wins in the grand prix ring and my first FEI senior classes. It may not have been pretty the first few years but over time you taught me so much about the top of the competition. You showed me that the only way to succeed in the ring is by working our butts off at home. You took me to new countries to show and showed me that even when we fail miserably that you still love me and I still love you. You showed that though the world might be crumbling around me, you will always be my friend. My eyes still water when I see you because I know that you were such a special horse and I would give anything to relive our highlight. I thank you for showing me that riding may be a hard world, but it is the only world I want.

© Shawn McMillen Photography: Eirin and SirEirin and Sir

These are the reasons I am the way I am today. I might not be the best, not even close, however I know that I can be. With a lot of work, sweat, tears, blood, perseverance, dedication and sacrifice I will make it. Even if I don’t in the end make it, I will know that I spent my life in paradise and I will never regret the journey.

Forever and humbly yours,


© Courtesy of NLF: Singapore Youth Olympic Games 2010Singapore Youth Olympic Games 2010

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