What do you do when you have a sweet little mare of uncertain breeding, who is so narrow she could nearly be defined as two dimensional, has the skinniest little matchstick legs ever and who keeps going lame?  Why, you breed from her, of course!
To my eternal shame, that's what I did.  To my eternal joy, the result was Aero, the horse of a lifetime for my youngest daughter.

Their partnership started in 2004, when he was four and the YD was still only thirteen, JUST old enough to be allowed to jump in horse classes.  In their six years together, they showjumped, evented and dressage'd their way to several regional and national titles, but above all, they had fun.  There were plenty of gallops through the fields and beach rides as well as serious competition stuff - one of my fondest memories is of standing above Fountainstown beach, watching them practise flying changes bareback on the sand.

Things started to get serious during their last year together, the YD was stressed out with exams and also became very focussed in dressage - too focussed, I would say, the sparkle went out of Aero's eye and they didn't seem to be having fun anymore.  Family discussions followed, and we all agreed that the YD needed a break, Aero was loaned out to a talented young girl and we thought all would be well.

Sadly, all was not well, she just didn't gel with him in the saddle, while we were all missing him, so at the end of a year he came home again, a withdrawn, sad, little horse who stood in the corner of the field all day and didn't want to connect with anyone, human or equine.

Whether he was depressed because he missed his loan home, or depressed because he'd been hurt by being sent away, or depressed because he was in pain somewhere, we will never know.  He was as polite and mannerly as ever, but there was no interaction there, no gentle nuzzling of the hand while being led, no spark or enthusiasm while being ridden.  His big soft eyes seemed smaller, somehow, and his nostrils were constantly slightly wrinkled as if he was in pain, although the vet assured us he was physically well.

We went to France for four months and Aero was given a compete break while we were away.  It seems to have done him good, his big soft eye is back, the wrinkle is gone from his nostril and his joie de vivre has returned.

Let's hope it's back for good.

He's about to start a new career with me, fooling around doing low-level dressage for the summer, before going to France and becoming a trail horse.  I think he'll like that!

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