Why I Sold My Dream Horse

I bought Cobrito, a 6 year old spanish cross breed without any papers 10 years ago. He had only been gelded for a couple of months and had made some bad experiences with humans. His way of showing that he didn’t care for people at all, was to be as unfriendly as possible everytime someone tried to come close to him.

Berber-Andalusian-Mix Cobrito

I wasn’t bothered by his leave-me-alone attitude and started working with him. First from the ground, where he had to learn that he wasn’t supposed to bite me at every opportunity. Luckily, he was a sucker for compliments. He started to search my approval and became very motivated to work with me. Slowly we built a relationship and continued working both from the ground and from the saddle.

After five years of working together we started to attend clinics together, held by Desmond O’Brien, a former member of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. It was there, where Cobrito really started to shine. Desmond just had to mention something in passing and my horse seemed to anticipate every new task. We had quite a couple of magic moments together. Our teacher even called him a genius on several occasions.
This sometimes caused startled expressions from the audience. Sure he was brillant, but still a verycobrito_levade_sept08grumpy horse on the outside. (I think it was justified. I wouldn’t like it either if everybody puts his hand in my face while passing by. That’s just not very polite. So yes, I can understand the put back ears.)

Three years ago I was really content with our training. We had found our training rhythm and he was always ready to work like a good soldier. Very motivated, even playful.

Unfortunately a new mare came into the group and he got into a fight with her. This caused a sinew injury on his left hind leg. That ment a training break for 9 months. It healed up nicely on the leg but he kept having ongoing problems moving properly, probably caused by a relieving posture he had gotten used to during the healing process.

I still started with light training from the ground combined with therapy sessions. This helped a little bit but not enough. It left us both frustrated. Everytime it went a little better I became hopeful. I didn’t put any outward pressure on him. I didn’t even step up the training. But it seemed enough to worsen his condition again and most of all he seemed not to have fun anymore while working with me. Obviously this put my spirit and hope down.

At the same time, the husband of one of my pupils took up riding with the horse of his wife, a Welsh Cob. It was his first contact with horses. Everytime he took his wife’s horse out of the herd he was affraid of encountering Cobrito. (He can be quite menacing if you don’t know him.) One day he decided to take the time to get to know my horse better. He wasn’t ready anymore to be afraid everytime he came across cobrito. Slowly they started to respect each other. Cobrito even started to show him unasked his special tricks (like spanish walk, the compliment etc.) in the paddock. One day, after a lesson with the Welsh Cob he asked me, if he could take my horse for a walk. I told him I had to think it over. I am very proprietorial when it comes to my horses…

The next day I told him yes, but… What followed was an entire list with instructions. A couple of weeks and walks later I told him, he could take him for a quiet ride outside in the company of his wife. (Cobrito was healthy enough for this kind of light work under the saddle and Felix, my student, had improved his riding skills a lot in the mean time.) Cobrito is not an easy horse to ride. But they seemed to have a special understanding. Felix called me after this first ride, completely flashed and excited. Wonderful time, wonderful ride, wonderful horse… Problems? None at all…

After that he took his lessons with Cobrito. And Cobrito, who usually pulled stunts of all kinds with other riders than me (and lately even with me)


didn’t show anything else than patience with his new rider. One part of me envied the two of them. The other part noticed, how relaxed Cobrito seemed working with Felix. He also seemed to enjoy simply beeing with him. After some internal struggling I finally asked him a couple of weeks later, if he would like to buy Cobrito. I was very honest and told him that I didn’t know how resilient Cobrito would prove to be and that his old injury would always be something to consider.

One day later he called me. „I wouldn’t want to buy any other horse right now. I didn’t plan for this at all. But I love this horse. So yes. If you really can part with him, I would like to have him very much.“

It was bitter sweet, coming to this decision. But everytime I see them together, how happy they are together in their unique male friendship my decision is confirmed. I hope they live happily ever after 🙂

(Fortunately Cobrito remained in the same stable. I still get to pet him and feed him occasionally ;-))

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