Life

At Home With Derby

In the At Home With segments we meet the horses behind the blog. Read below to meet Mary’s horse, Derby.

“Do you know who I am?! I am a great show horse who has won many things. I am VERY good looking.”

This is a direct quote from Derby to the animal communicator, who passed the message on to me via a phone call. At that point in the conversation I began to believe she was actually talking to my horse. I’ve always known that he’s a complete narcissist.

Being narcissistic is only one of his many qualities.

When I first got him as a 6 year old (now 24) he used to parade around the field at break neck speeds, hurling himself into the air and twisting almost in half, seemingly just to prove to all within sight how athletic he was. I remember thinking to my 13 year old self, “I’m glad he never does that under saddle.”

The fact that he doesn’t proves his generosity. Despite being fully capable of ejecting any rider, he tries his best to make sure you stay on board. Stifling his big bouncy trot to a shuffle to accommodate and care for tiny children on his back, and taking a jump from any distance for me when most other horses would stop.

He’s had many jobs, including: race horse, hunter, jumper, eventer, and dressage horse. He’s jack of all trades and master of none. In his mind he’s won at the Olympics, which I must have impressed upon him by the height of my nerves when showing as a teenager.

Around the barn he’s lovingly referred to as The Princess, Fluffy, or Princess Fluffy. He wants his food at a certain consistency, and bi-annually changes his preference as to whether he wants his supplements in the morning or evening grain. He wants his face groomed with me standing to the side of his head, not directly in front of him. Treats must be densely caloric, and if cheaper than $18 spat upon the floor. He enjoys having staff. He takes personal offense to his barnmates being scolded in his presence, but doesn’t mind seeing it at shows. No crossties please, and thank you.

Under saddle he begrudgingly accepts contact with the bit. Abhors transitions from walk to trot while on the bit, and anything that has to do with submission. Over fences do not tell him what to do, just hold on. He’s been likened to a cat when jumping, and many observers have called out “Look at him, he LOVES it!” while schooling. Any time he goes on the bit it’s because he likes me and is doing me a favor.

Derby is the most gentle horse I have ever met. He bit me once by accident. It was right after my husband proposed to me, so maybe it wasn’t by accident, but it was only once.

He’s been with me through junior high, high school, college, a wedding, a masters degree, and buying my first home. This horse has a PhD in womens studies. At the sight of a crying woman or teenage girl I have witnessed him push to the forefront of the group to comfort the distressed. “Don’t worry. You’ll pass the GRE’s.”

When I see friendly faces I haven’t seen in years who knew both Derby and I, the first thing they ask is “How’s Derby?!”. Not because they remember he’s my horse so much as they remember him as himself. He’s the kind of personality who leaves a lasting impression on everyone they meet. So it makes sense that he quipped to the animal communicator in disbelief, “Do you know who I am?!”.

Sigh, narcissist.

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