When I was 16, I begged my parents to let me ride the beautiful, *very* recently saddle-broke PMU mare that our good family friend had recently bought. While I was going to do it regardless of their blessing, they (reluctantly) agreed. It was the beginning of what would be a wonderful partnership.

However, it wasn’t an easy beginning. The very first show I rode her at, she took off down the arena and wound up throwing me into a fence, right where my father happened to be standing. I was unharmed and bounced back up, ready to face the fiery bay beast that had just gotten the best of me. But as I composed myself, I could see that it wasn’t malice that had gotten the best of her, it was fear and lack of trust. I quickly realized that if I was going to be a partner with this horse, it was going to have to be built on a strong foundation of trust.

Maddie quickly grew into a superstar and boasted accomplishments in 4-H, Pony Club, and our local show circuit. And when I decided to move out of state for college, of course, Maddie followed shortly.

As life progressed, Maddie also got to meet new important people in my life. After informing a new boyfriend that I had a true heart-horse, he politely asked if he could meet her. While Maddie was a very large aspect of my life, not many were privy to making her acquaintance. This one felt special though, and I agreed, knowing that if Maddie didn’t like this guy, then he couldn’t be in my life either.

But the moment I saw how she reacted to him, I knew all three of us were going to be alright together. Three years later, that same man brought up that day he met Maddie during his vows to me, and I knew, once again, that Maddie had been right.

Through all the trials, tribulations, new experiences, and new friends, Maddie has stood by my side. She has been my shoulder to cry on when I can’t make out words to express how I feel, and a vibrant mirror when I need to reflect and humble on myself. She tests every aspect that I have and forces me to trust in her like she trusts in me.” —Annie K. 

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