Lila and Jocelyn — A Love Story
Although I loved all animals as a child, I always lived in the city and never had an opportunity to be around horses until after my marriage to a rancher’s son in 1988. I began riding in 1990, was introduced to gaited horses in 1991 and purchased my first Peruvian gelding that year. Although he was a pretty good animal, we never really connected the same way I had with my first horse (who was a Quarter Horse named Trigger) and I felt that I had found my preferred breed, but not my preferred individual horse. I still had my quarter horse, and rode him occasionally, but continued to keep my eyes open for a horse that appealed to me the way my quarter horse did, but had the gait of a Peruvian.
In 1992, I went to see a video of a proven show mare to consider her for purchase. Also on the video was a four-year-old bay mare that had only been ridden three times. I knew that green horse and green rider was a bad combination, but I fell head over heels in love with the filly from the video. She resembled Trigger, whose markings and temperament I loved. The person showing me the video did not even know her name, but made the call to the seller to find out her name, price and bloodlines. It turned out that the little bay mare was only a third the price of the show mare because she was under breed standard in height, but had extremely good bloodlines. And her name was Lila (Spanish for “lilac” and pronounced Lela). That was also my ex-husband’s Grandmother’s name! I decided to take my chances and purchased the young mare off the video, believing that my ex-husband (a very experienced rider) could help me with her if she was too much for me. I was so sure that her name was a sign that she was to be with us. Lila stayed in California to complete her training, then came to live with us in Canada in the fall of 1992.
When I actually got to meet Lila six months later, she was better than I could have ever hoped. But I knew that I was overmounted as she was still green, and very hot (not goofy, just extremely energetic and enthusiastic). She sometimes overwhelmed me with her responsiveness, but Lila patiently waited for me to catch up to her skill level. It took me many years to “deserve” a horse as good as she was, and to increase my riding and handling skills to the point where I could do her justice. She taught me to listen to my horse to figure out how little I need to do to offer direction. Although she was always very hot, I never fell off her. We did manoeuvres simply by thinking about them — I liked to think she read my mind.
I am so proud of her and her accomplishments. In the show ring, she won in the breeding, pleasure and gait divisions. She took me many miles on mountain trails, gave me wonderful babies (the first two under saddle were both Champion of Champions Pleasure Geldings, the third a Champion mare in both the breeding and pleasure divisions and her last a Champion Luxury Gelding) and countless hours of devoted companionship. I was offered four times what I paid for her, but she was never for sale. How could I have replaced her?
She seemed to feel the same way about me that I did about her. She was bonded to me, and fretted a little at horse shows when I left her with someone else. Her eyes lit up when I came back, and she nickered every time she saw me walking towards her. She offered me her heart every time I rode her.
Lila’s size also changed. She grew two inches after I bought her, and ended up within breed standard. And the other mare I considered in 1992?? She never beat Lila in the show ring after 1994 in any division. There was an angel looking over my shoulder the day I saw that video, and guiding me to choose the right horse. I like to think that same angel was watching over us both to ensure that I didn’t ruin Lila with my lack of knowledge.
I lost my lovely little mare to colic in September of 2002 at the age of fourteen. She was buried in the yard under the apple tree and surrounded by lilac bushes. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of her and the gifts she gave me. I look at her first son, RJT Colorado Real ++, her daughter, Celestina, and her last baby, Ricky (Requiebro) and am eternally grateful to have had ten wonderful years with her. I only wish it could have been twenty…
I hope each of you finds your own “Lila”, and am committed to helping you do that. Best wishes, and happy trails…