Video by America's Best Racing/Photos courtesy Rachel Bisaillon
Earlier this year, I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime. One of the newest “square pegs” at Square Peg Foundation was a beautiful bay retired racehorse with long legs and longer eyelashes and the world’s cutest white snip on his nose. Seven Bridges, also known around here as Ace, had me head-over-heels in love. He’s quiet, sweet and has an all-Thoroughbred heart making him an easy horse to retrain. His canter was to die for.
Square Peg founder Joell Dunlap and one of my coaches told me I could take Ace for my own and put him into serious show training at a barn down the street. I was astonished- this leggy guy could be all mine. I could see us flying around the cross country course, winning blue ribbons, and headed to North American Junior and Young Rider Championships.
ACE AND RACHEL
That thought lasted for about 48 hours. On Tuesday I put one of my younger students on him, and we ended the lesson with a short canter around the arena- her first time off the lunge line. He quietly picked up the canter despite a discombobulated ask, and the girl proceeded to canter happily around, yelling “THIS IS AWESOME.” I knew that second that this horse was never leaving Square Peg. I almost shed a tear- this horse belongs here. He is meant to be teaching the next generation how to be patient, overcome struggles, and enjoy learning. It meant more to me to watch him teach others than any ribbon ever could. I am grateful that we are able to understand that each horse and child is different- and play to their strengths. Since then he has taught walk/trot/canter lessons, gone on trail rides, and is learning how to long line. He has 7-year-olds creating ground pole obstacle courses to trot him over, and all he does is bat his beautiful eyelashes and oblige.
ACE WITH A YOUNG RIDER
All of the horses we receive are Square Pegs in some way, as are we. Everyone deserves to ride a horse that makes them want to explode in sunshine and love. Ace is also currently in training for our show debut at the Woodside May Eventing show, with a crew of tweens who have assured me they will be flaunting “Team Ace” T-shirts. And that is what really matters at the end of the day- a community full of love and support.
Who says you can’t have it all?
Square Peg Foundation, located in Half Moon Bay, Calif. was founded in 2004 with a mission to improve the therapeutic riding model for both students on the autism spectrum and retired racehorses alike. You can learn more here: www.squarepegfoundation.org.