Meghan + Sterling

by | Mar 2021 | Story

Breed Thoroughbred

Age 10

Sex Gelding

Color Chestnut

Height 17hh

I decided to adopt Sterling because of the story he brought with him to the Secretariat Center. The staff found Sterling with a swollen knee that he could not put any weight on and a right front that was dangerously close to foundering. They could not say no to helping him. They brought Sterling back to the Secretariat Center with the goal of cleaning him up and giving him a few good days before humanely, and compassionately, euthanizing him. However, as soon as Sterling arrived in Kentucky he decided he had other plans. Within the first month it was clear that Sterling was fighting to stay alive and thanks to meds and a non-invasive treatment from Hagyard, he was able to start putting weight on the knee and subsequently gained weight himself. Through all of this, Sterling’s spirits remained bright and his will to live surpassed anything they have ever seen.  

But Sterling’s story didn’t end there. Although he was now pasture sound, the staff doubted he would ever be rideable and thought he would have to stay a companion horse. After more than a year out in the pasture recovering and just being a horse, Sterling was brought back to the Center in the fall of 2018 where he was found to be sound and rideable!  

That fall I started as an intern at the Secretariat Center and was given the chance to ride Sterling and once it was clear we meshed well, I started riding and working with him regularly. Of course I fell for him, the tall, leggy Thoroughbred and once I talked with my parents and was given the green light to start looking for a horse I immediately put in my adoption application at the Center with Sterling in mind. The vet check showed arthritic issues with his knee and hind pastern which put doubt into my mind for a couple weeks but once I went back out to test ride him and a few other horses, I knew it was him. While the others were great athletic Thoroughbreds, once I sat on Sterling I had this feeling that we were meant to be together. The next day I adopted him and brought him home and my life has been all the better for it. 

I knew Sterling was the right horse for me pretty much from the first ride. He has the exact mindset that I really enjoy in a horse: dependable but sassy. His life story has formed him into the horse he is today and when you look into his eyes you can see his intelligence and confidence written all over his face. He is one of the smartest horses I have worked with, which has made training a bit of a challenge but I always love a horse that challenges me, which is why Sterling touched me so much. He knew what he was worth and he wasn’t afraid of speaking his mind. But even through all the disagreements we both trust each other infinitely and there is many a time where I hop on him without any tack and without a worry because I know he’s got my back- even if he might put up a fuss! 

Currently, Sterling is being given a break this Spring while I am working and completing an internship. Since adopting him, we competed in the 2019 RRP TB Makeover, where we placed Top Amateur in the Freestyle division and placed in the middle of the pack in the Dressage division. The next year we went to the Region 9 Dressage Championships where Sterling showed a ton of promise and really surprised me with how successful he was. We ended up being Region 9 JR/YR Training Level Champions, Training Level Reserve Champions at the Southwest Dressage Championships, and placing 8th in the Region 9 JR/YR First Level Championship class. I hope to return to Regionals this year as an amateur and advance to the US Dressage Finals. 

The advice I would give for someone considering adopting a horse is that adopting a horse is one of the most rewarding experiences and most of the time that horse comes with a long and interesting story. Also, don’t look past a horse just because of some old injuries or flaws. Look at Sterling- the vet said that he would never be able to be rideable and when he overcame that, the vet said he would only be able to do low level flatwork and no jumping. Two years later and we are training 2nd and 3rd level dressage as well as jumping 2’3″ on a consistent basis. I would advise to look for the horses that have this sense of will and perseverance in them because that will take you far. 

What #RightHorse means to me

To me #RightHorse means an equine partner that you never give up on. Even through all the training and disagreements, at the end of the day you aren’t disappointed or angry because you feel that this horse is the one for you. It’s a hard feeling to describe but when you know, you know. Sterling has saved my life in so many ways and I have been able to get through tough times in my life thanks to him. He is my #RightHorse because I know I can depend on him to understand me and even if I get mad at him for being really sassy some days, the next day I’ll realize that that is exactly what I needed. 

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