The Inspiration

Soaring Spirits was inspired by Gypsy, a fantastic horse with a sketchy past.  Gypsy was born around 1990 and came to our family in 2003 — completely by chance.  Having a horse at that time wasn’t in the plan.  It started with a trip to the local stable to pick up some horse doo-doo for our garden when Dudley (my significant other and co-founder of Soaring Spirits) first met Gypsy — and had an immediate affection for her.

Dudley and her owner (an acquaintance) talked and it was agreed that we could work with the horse.  However, just a couple weeks later — before I’d had a chance to meet Gypsy — the owner said she was donating Gypsy to a therapeutic riding center!  Dudley’s words when he hung up the phone were, “I can’t let that happen,” and that was the start of our horse ownership.

You see, at that time Gypsy was standoffish, didn’t trust people, and was out of her skin.  She was a horse that didn’t know how to be a horse.  We knew the riding facility was not the place for her at that time and we worried about her fate.  Gypsy had kindness in her eyes and a gentleness about her attitude and we hoped with some patience and time she would learn to trust us.

Dudley and I had very little horse experience, so we really didn’t know what we were doing.  Over the next couple of months we didn’t do groundwork because we didn’t know what that was! And we didn’t ride because we knew we hadn’t built that trust yet. Instead we spent our time grooming her and leading her out on riding trails. She was pretty easy to lead, but grooming was very challenging.  She moved constantly, yanked her head and untied her lead rope, and would turn her head to block me from combing her mane.  I never got mad at her — although I became discouraged more than once and cried several times because I just wanted her to stand still so I could groom her.  When she’d move, I would just move her back to where I wanted her to stand.  When she’d untie herself, I’d just tie her back.  When she’d try to block me, I’d try to push her head away.

In the fall we decided it was time to saddle up and ride.  With the help of a more experienced horseperson, we did some groundwork and some riding in the round pen.  Gypsy was already broke to ride and knew the basics.  We had our challenges in those first few months, but we worked through it.  By winter, the horse that (according to some) would never be ridden in an arena or out on trail without bucking and carrying on was doing both and enjoying it!  Grooming also became fun.  Gypsy relaxed under the soothing strokes of the brush and even started taking horsey naps.  I knew she had learned to trust us.  She also began accepting pets on her face (she used to turn her head away when anyone would try to touch her face).  And I taught her to give kisses.

Gypsy now is the one that comes to us in the pasture ready for whatever we ask her to do.  If it’s possible to have a horse soul mate, she is it.  She knows when I’m upset or hurt and hangs close to me.  For example, in November 2007 I was cantering her in the round pen and she lost her footing and we both went down.  It wasn’t her fault at all!  From the looks of the ground, Gypsy did everything she could to stay up.  Immediately I knew I had a broken foot and perhaps a broken ankle making it impossible for me to move.  While I waited 20 minutes for Dudley to get there, Gypsy didn’t move a hoof!  She even comforted me by putting her muzzle to my cheek, letting me know she cared and was there for me.  As Dudley arrived, she got as tall as she could and whinnied loudly to say, “We’re over here!”  For the six weeks of my recovery, Dudley told me that Gypsy appeared to mope around the pasture missing me. When I was finally able to walk and return to the pasture and barn, Gypsy shadowed my every step either by walking directly behind or beside me. She was assuring me that she would be there to catch me if I stumbled. To this day my heart swells with joy as I recall her show of complete dedication and trust — how far she has come — and how far I have come!

Thank you for taking the time to read about Gypsy!

Jama St. John
Co-Founder of Soaring Spirits

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