Jetta’s journey began long before I met her but I’m excited for the stage that begins with me. When I first saw Jetta, the owner who’d trained her hadn’t ridden her in a while. Jetta had been turned out for the winter, left to her own happy devices.
My journey toward Jetta began in my childhood and I’m often asked ‘why’. Why horses? Why barrel racing? The most honest answer to that question is, “I don’t know.” In my heart, I know I didn’t choose my passion for horse and sport as much as they chose me. It isn’t pride of ownership. For years, I had no concept of ownership. I rode what my sister made available to me and I was grateful. It isn’t the pride of success. I’ve stayed the course through failures as well as successes.
When I met Jetta, I was looking for something that was ‘not’ Jetta. I’ve ridden enough witchy-women mares to be absolutely sure I didn’t want another. The two horses on which I had my greatest successes and my happiest moments were both geldings. I was adamant I wanted another gelding. Jetta is a mare.
I’d never buy a horse based on color but I prefer a bay or a sorrel. Jetta is a golden palomino.
I wanted something trained, seasoned and settled. Jetta, though beautifully trained, is still a bit young and unsettled.
I wanted something ‘not huge’ but Jetta is tiny, smaller than anything I’ve owned!
I wanted a horse that loves his (er … her) job! Jetta loves running barrels as much as I do.
I wanted something fast because winning is fun, but I wanted something quiet until we were in the alley. Jetta – as my sister warned – is a firecracker now that she’s back in shape.
I wanted something smooth and I’ve never ridden smoother than Jetta.
When I began nagging (honestly nagging!) my daughter to find me a horse, my list was precise. It took almost two frustrating years for my daughter to find what I thought I didn’t want but Jetta is exactly what I need.
Not since my trip to Ireland – where I met and fell in love with a sweet Connemara named Silver Dollar – have I ridden a horse as loving as Jetta. She’d have me stand in her stall with her night and day, if she could. And I’d be content to be there. She wants to be brushed, combed, and petted. I don’t kid myself, though. For now, any human would make her happy but every day I feel the bond between us gaining strength.
We’ve had little success in the arena YET but that’s next month’s story so I’ll end with a picture of Jetta today and tell you that I’m in love with this mare though she bears scant resemblance to what I imagined my dream horse to be. And my daughter is happy that I am (finally) happy and her search is done.
And my final picture is of a long-ago day in Ireland on a horse I’ve never forgotten. Silver Dollar made her debut in America at long-last in Trouble in Summer Valley. I invite you to meet her there.
Susan Y. Tanner is best known for her historical romance novels. In Trouble in Summer Valley she combines her love of horses and cats, and steps into a new genre—contemporary romantic mystery. Writing in the voice of a black cat detective, especially one with a slight British accent (thanks to his addiction to Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes) has spurred a series idea that will be sure to delight readers. Her upcoming Trouble books will feature characters with a backstory set in the world of equines, a mini-series within the Familiar Legacy series. Tanner lives on a small ranch in Mississippi and barrel races.