I had dreams, still do actually. Five years ago my dreams consisted of a beautiful warmblood floating effortlessly over the ground, tempi flying changes and stunning piaffe's being a thing of ease. Then there was reality. I was 5'3" and 240 pounds. My balance was a constant struggle, and carrying me was a chore for any "normal" horse. I sat down and gave myself a dose of reality. If I was going to ride I first needed a horse I could ride, meaning a horse that could carry my weight that was not going to step out from underneath me, leaving me in the dust. This was probably not going to be my fancy warmblood. Maybe my dressage dreams would have to change. No one can have everything and each all of their dreams, right?
I went to a national horse sales site but wasn't sure what to look for. What could I ride? I knew I had been a capable rider. I rode and showed a lot as a teenager, before the baby, before the weight, but wasn't sure what I could do now. With a flash of inspiration, I thought: "Police horse. Those suckers are big, and they have to be quiet to do what they do". So...I typed Police Horse into my internet browser.
One horse popped up out, of the thousands of horses on the site. It was a seventeen hand Percheron/Tb cross. He was five and hadn't actually done any police work, but he had done some early ground work using the police horse principals. He wasn't a beauty. He was a big, chunky, and coarse boy who had only been trail riding. He was also half the country away. I was desperate to ride. I was also anxious to be sure I wouldn't damage any horse with my weight. He was big and solid enough that I thought we would be okay. It was time to take a look.
I flew down to see him, and I can't say it was love at first site, but he was a good boy...just not the fancy boy of my dreams. I purchased him and brought him home. We started to work, both of us. It wasn't easy. I was shocked at how big seventeen hands could be. Even if I hadn't had balance issues, it would have been difficult, but we kept at it. He was a good boy, a forgiving boy, a boy who was willing to start over with me each new day. We spent time, got help, spent more time, got more help. I started losing weight (a story for another time) and still kept at it.
Soon I had a surprise. I had fallen in love. He might not have been what I thought I wanted at first, but with time I did some rethinking. Fancy is what you make it. With proper training and help he became my dressage horse... and trail horse...and versatility horse...and best friend. He will never have ten gaits, but he has taught me more in the past five years than I could have possibly imagined.
I have written this because I want to share with any readers the knowledge of how wonderful draft crosses can be. They will turn themselves inside out to do and be anything you ask. We adult amateurs don't have to have a fancy warmblood that we may get hurt on or need to keep in constant training just to be able to ride. We can find our dream horses in surprising places.
The picture I above is my "now fancy dressage horse," and me seventy pounds lighter. The photo is of us schooling this summer. I hope each of you are lucky enough to find your dream horse as I did, even if it is in the most unlikely way.