Holly + Gilly

by | Dec 2021 | Story

Breed Thoroughbred

Age 4

Sex Mare

Color Dark Bay

Height 15.1hh

I’ve always loved horses but did not grow up with or around them. I’ve often wished for the opportunity to become a proficient rider and develop a close relationship with a horse. It seemed like pure fantasy to own a horse growing up.

When I was six I went to Yellowstone and was inspired by the beautiful country with horses everywhere! I got to trail ride on the last day while my family waited impatiently for me. I loved the experience, and I wanted more time with horses. At nine we visited my Uncle Louie’s ranch in Ohio and I giggled wildly when he put me on a horse; it was the best day ever. And I want more. During my honeymoon in Costa Rica in 2007 during another trail ride and my husband asks, “do these horses ever go faster than a walk?” The trail boss says “Haa!” and once again I am giggling like a child as we fly across an open field with nothing but the view of Arenal Volcano in our way!

40 years later and I visit Yellowstone again with my family. Right then and there, I decide my dream must be lived and book a two hour trail ride and an arena lesson so that I might finally, once and for all, do something besides plod along on a fool proof trail horse. It was everything I knew that it could be! And those cowboys/girls sure make it look easier than it is. With a backdrop of the Gallatin mountains I learned heels down, post up and the thrill of riding again!

This year when a friend told me about Monty Roberts Horse Sense and Healing program in Solvang, CA for veterans and first responders I talked my husband into going. I went as his companion. It was phenomenal to realize the exquisite sensitivity of these stunning and engaging horses. It was meaningful to apply communication skills to our relationship as well and understand our own fears, strengths and limitations better as a couple.

From there, my friend Amy and I began to dream. Could we really, if we worked together, make adopting a horse a reality? Was there a horse at Monty’s Flag Is Up Farms that could deal with two green riders with infinite enthusiasm for horses and the desire to learn how to be with them? In fact there was. When I walked into the paddock to meet this mare she looked up at me with the softest eye. It said “Are you the one? The person I can trust to see me through this journey and find peace?” That’s all it took. I am that person. I wanted that beautiful off track Thoroughbred mare who had arrived panicked and afraid. Gilly is tender and cautious. She’s patient and curious. She thrives on calm and centered interactions.

Just before adopting Gilly I got a job as a ranch hand with Lauren Urban Eventing in Santa Barbara. It has expanded my confidence around horses and seriously increased my physical stamina! I spend time every day at the barn surrounded by 17 horses. Some are pleasure horses, and many are competitive eventing horses. With the support of skilled trainer Lauren Urban, Gilly is learning to be a trail/pleasure horse and I am learning to ride safely. The family of individuals at the barn are kind, enthusiastic, helpful and fun!

Bringing Gilly home is the best decision I have ever made. I love learning to ride. My two young daughters absolutely love being with horses and spend hours at the barn helping me work and taking lessons too. My husband and I are sharing a new passion. My friend Amy and I are giddy every time we are with Gilly. I learn something new every day. Our dream is a reality. Gilly is such an incredible part of our lives. This gorgeous dark bay mare with the soft eye and tender spirit is at peace. She is loved and cared for and has a home where people from 6 years old to 60 plus delight in her every single day.

Do it. Its a huge commitment but if you do your research and find that there is nothing you would rather spend your money on (car payments, hobbies, vices etc.) then it is the right choice for you. Involve your family in your process and find a horse you can all appreciate in some way. It really can bring you together as a family and puts you out in wide open spaces, off of electronics, focused on another being, learning a new skill and achieving goals. That’s a lot of benefits to adopting a horse!!

What #RightHorse means to me

#RightHorse means I’m living me very best life as never before. It is due to the dedication and skill of those at Win Place Home, the team at Monty Robert’s Flag is Up Farm and The Right Horse Initiative that Gilly was rescued, rehabilitated and taught to relax and trust again. She is a different horse than she was 6 months ago. She is a horse that we can learn with, grow with and love and explore with for years to come.


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