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"Gotcha!" Day
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"Gotcha!" Day

“You rose into my life like a promised sunrise, brightening my days with the light in your eyes. I’ve never been so strong, now I’m where I belong.” – Maya Angelou

Parents of adopted children, and sometimes of pets, often choose to celebrate their “Gotcha!” Day, as in “the day I got you." Mine and Sportie’s is December 27.

I had been in between work-to-ride leases at stables for six weeks when I found Sportie’s stables on Craigslist, offering riding privileges in exchange for help with chores. I drove out for my interview with the manager on December 20, 2014, a bitterly cold and blustery day, straight out of a Winnie the Pooh tale. The surroundings were quaint and rustic, and I felt I had stepped back in time to a gentler era. The manager was a tough British lady of strong stock, impervious to the wind as we stood out in the elements discussing what I was looking for and what she required. It was instantly obvious we were on the same page.

“Okay, so come next weekend and after chores we’ll see how you do with Sonnet, she really needs to be ridden,” she commented. “Or maybe Sport. Hmm, yes, I think you two would get on well together. He’s out in the pasture now but you’ll get to meet him next time. Can you start next Saturday?”

I tried not to scare her off with my enthusiasm but truthfully, I was so thrilled that she didn’t put me off until the new year that I could have hugged her. I could not have waited another two weeks.

I excitedly returned on the 27th on a much sunnier day, did two hours of chores and then my coworker Lacey said, “Okay, let’s get our horses and ride.”

My horse! I walked with her out to the pasture, staring at the dozen horses grazing contentedly. There was one horse that stood out to me, with his dark black-brown coat and a handsome face streaked with white, while a gorgeous bay sauntered up to Lacey to sniff her pockets.

“This is my horse, Riley,” she smiled. She pointed to the horse I had first noticed, with the white markings on his face and said, “That’s Sport. He’s yours.”

I walked up to him with a treat, again trying to contain my enthusiasm, and he gazed at me thoughtfully as he accepted it. I am a believer in love at first sight and I was hooked.

As actor and horseman Robert Redford once wrote: “Horses connect in ways that often words can't capture but hearts can.” Sportie is my heart on four legs and he was the best Christmas present a girl of any age could ever wish for.

Happy Gotcha Day, my Sportie! Thanks for an awesome year and I look forward to many more.

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