You hear those stories which seem like a love affair between the rider and horse: "I knew he/she was the horse, I just knew" - but really, the majority of our most promising partners are right under our noses, sometimes the next stall over from our current mount, and we don't even know it.
This kind of was the case when Hannah met Zhen.
Molly's business entails receiving in horses to train and sell, and last summer we received two colorful ones.
Zhen and Piney - full sisters -are paint/dutch warmblood crosses.
"Honestly I didn't actually ever picture myself owning a paint," Hannah said. Plus, she already had a horse at the time, and though us working students do have our favorites in the barn, we know that these horses will enter our family but find a new one eventually, and we never assume that new family will be our own.
However, it was when Hannah caught a ride on Zhen one day that Molly saw some potential. Hannah's mare at the time, Anna, was a young OTTB and although Hannah was doing a great job bringing her along, Molly knew something with a little more experience could help Hannah grow as a rider while having more fun.
So, she suggested a lease while they went to Aiken, with the possibility of purchase after. Luckily, it didn't take long for a Civil War reenacter to fall in love with Anna, so Hannah was able to sell her previous mount to potentially create a new partnership.
Hannah said she knew Zhen was "the one" after a cross country school before their first show in Aiken. She was able to school fences which were a lot bigger than she was used to, and Zhen straight up showed her a good time. Hannah spent the rest of the day with a smile on her face, she just knew this was too much fun to pass up.
Thus, Hannah and Zhen grew as a team in Aiken, enjoying their lease together. However, when they got back to PA, it was time to make a decision.
Hannah's mom has always trusted Molly immensely and believed this was a positive investment in Hannah's future - however, it was an investment, and the first time Hannah was actually purchasing a horse. But they decided to go for it.
Hannah said it was a bit unbelievable at first. She couldn't really believe Zhen was hers until the pre-purchase was being done and then it really sunk in. Zhen was hers!
Although she still loves Anna, Hannah is infatuated with her new mare. Although she is allergic to neoprene, and is much more sensitive than Anna - she is such a happy horse and is always happy to see not only Hannah, but everyone who comes around the farm.
"It's a partnership," Hannah said. "You love your horse, your horse should love you back."
To add to the smiles, Hannah placed 5th today at MCTA aboard Zhen. Though they had a so/so dressage test, Zhen showed that she is ready to move up to training today with her jumping skills. Plus, Hannah was excited to win something for the first time (a Bit of Britain hat for 5th place)!
So some major congratulations are in order for Hannah and Zhen. And some major thanks to Pattie, Hannah's mom, for making this possible, and to Molly, for making the match.
"Give me a new horse over a new car! She's 100 times better than a new car," said Hannah, who is getting her license very soon!