Old Soldier
Equus|February 2018
Old Soldier

For 25 years, Ernie and I met life’s challenges together. But finally there was a battle he couldn’t win.

Lisa G. Dill

In November 1992, the owner of the small hunter/jumper barn where I trained young horses called to tell me about a 6-yearold gelding she was going to see. She had heard about him from a trainer at the local racetrack; the horse’s owner had stopped paying his training fees and if she wanted the horse, she only needed to come pick him up.

I’d been looking for a jumper prospect of my own, so the barn owner suggested I come along and take a look. The gelding had some old hock problems, but if I wanted him, I could have him. If not, she’d take him and we’d turn him into something and sell him.

At the track we found a smallish, stocky bay. He looked lonely. He looked hopeful. He looked like the line between “Are-you-going-to-love me?” and “Whatever” had gotten painfully thin. 

I wasn’t sure. 

Of course he broke my heart. But if I passed on him, he’d come home with us anyway, so he wouldn’t be abandoned. I’d been thinking bigger. Flashier. Something.

I asked the barn owner to give me a day or two. We took him home, and the next day I put him on a longe line. Suddenly he came to life, seeming to be filled with speed, power, ambition. Joy!

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February 2018