There are feel good stories and then there are ones that give you all-of-the-feels. This one is the latter. It truly needs no introduction other than it is a real life fairytale with a happy ending. An ending that I’m sure many horse owners wish they could be lucky enough to have.
This guest blog post comes from Carla Gaynor. We feel very lucky she chose to share her wonderful story with us and hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
The first stop on the search for my first horse back in October of 2004 was a family horse farm in Connecticut. We were on a budget and went prepared to try a dozen horses that day. Upon leaving I heard my mother tell my trainer that she wouldn’t consider anything young or anything spotted. As we arrived at the sales barn, the most stunning horse I had seen stood on cross ties at the end of the isle. I begged to be able to try him and with much insisting, was granted the opportunity. That day we purchased a green five-year-old black and white paint horse named Tipper and he came home to the farm on October 10, 2004. I was twelve. Tipper hails from Nebraska and is named Tip My Hat after a marking on his left side, which looks like a cowboy reaching up to tip his hat. He’s a petite 15.2 and was untrained upon purchase. I spent the next two years falling off constantly. I was moving up from the Short Stirrups and at the time was a timid rider. The riding field was a good thirty acres from the barn and Tipper frequently took off galloping back to his stall.
Something happened when Tipper turned eight and we just clicked. He took me from the Short Stirrup ring to the Children’s Hunters and then back down to the 2’6” Hunter division. I kept him at my aunt’s farm and rushed home from school every day to take care of him, as it was a private farm and I was responsible for my own horse. Tipper has been there for me through the ups and downs, the wins and the falls, and all throughout middle, high school, and college. We made it to the Hampton Classic twice and placed 9th on Long Island for the 2009 show season. We took a Grand Champion and a Reserve Grand Champion at two different Long Island show series, and Tipper and I constantly placed in the top three in the hack, though he never did completely learn his lead change. (He did learn to land on the correct lead after one or two times around a course though). I brought Tipper up to Western New York my senior year at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and boarded him with my coach, Sarah, in West Bloomfield, NY. At this point in my life I was preparing to move to England to pursue a graduate degree and knew I could not keep Tipper, who I had then owned for nine and a half years. With tears in my eyes, I traveled home for winter break in 2013 as Tipper moved on to his new owner. I did end up living in England for a year, but decided not to study for my masters there. I moved back to the Western NY area in 2015 where I began a master’s program at Syracuse University in Communication & Rhetorical Studies. I was able to ride alumni in my old IHSA region and reconnect with my coaches from my time at HWS.
Tipper remained local and I was able to stay in contact with his new owner for three years. Unfortunately, in the summer of 2016 she gave him to a local cow farmer, and subsequently unfriended me on social media and blocked my phone number. It took me a year to track Tipper down, and when I finally went to see him, he looked terrible. Shaggy, muddy, lame, and severely underweight, it killed me to see Tipper in his current situation. I wanted nothing more than to have him back home with me. I offered to buy him back and my request was denied. When his eighteenth birthday passed on April 29th all I could think about were ways to get him back. After three long months, I received a message out of the blue that the family was selling Tipper and I had the first option to buy. I was given 24 hours to decide. That day I transferred the money and my coach went to pick him up, as I have since graduated and work full time in my hometown on Long Island.
Tipper is now enjoying being rehabilitated at my coach’s farm. He’s receiving the best care and I get frequent updates on how he is improving. He has had a bath, been clipped, and had his mane pulled – he’s starting to look like my childhood show horse again. I’m excited to be able to enjoy my time with Tipper for the remainder of his years, and this year marks number fourteen that I’ve known him. We still have many trail rides, adventures and swims ahead of us to experience together. I never thought I’d be making a purchase on an eighteen-year-old horse my first week out of graduate school, but welcoming Tipper back into the family is one of the best feelings in the world. I am so looking forward to having him in my life again.
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