This is Maria. I call her My Maria, because, well, she's my Maria.
When Cowboy H and I first met, he was wrangling at a place out in the desert. During the summer, due to the oppressive heat, all the horses were packed up (yes, with their sleeping bags and toothbrushes) and shipped to summer camps in the mountains. A couple of wranglers went too (without their toothbrushes, its summer camp for Christ's sake!), including Cowboy H and me.
That's where I met Maria. She was supposed to be turned out to pasture and not a camp horse, but my gosh, was she ever cute! I was immediately intrigued and Cowboy H suggested she be my Head-Honcho Horse since she hadn't been ridden in almost a year and needed to get back in the swing of things. I whole-heartedly agreed. I mean, I jumped up and down and shouted with glee (yippee!). She was freaking adorable after all.
She was a complete joy to use that summer. I was completely smitten. I loved this horse. I dragged bales of hay with her, covered her with tarps, gathered horses on her, used her as my 'catch and halter' horse for the kids testing, and pretty much let her sleep in my bed.
After summer, she went back to the desert and I went back to school. Eventually, she ended up on pasture again. (Evidently, she HATES the desert and behaves like a heathen.) I got to ride her once or twice again, and was then relegated to trying to pick her out on the pasture whenever I drove by.
I graduated college (whoohoo!) and Cowboy H and I were preparing to visit my parents who keep my old retired mare (my first horse). Cowboy H had to go to the desert for something and we were going to leave the minute he got back. Oddly enough, he calls me and tells me to have all the stuff outside, he was running late and I just need to jump in and go. So, there I am standing outside with all this luggage and a freaking stock trailer! comes rolling down the street. With a freaking horse! in it. Wait, my MARIA!
Long story short (oh, its too late for that?) Cowboy H's boss had decided to gift me this horse for my graduation. There's a laundry list of reasons why he didn't want her anymore, but I don't care. She's MY MARIA now.
(Ok, so maybe it didn't really go exactly that way because we did have to warn my parents that we were bringing an extra horse to them, but in my memories it happened that way. Because I was pretty much so freaking excited when I finally got to see her in the trailer that I might as well have never known she was going to be there to begin with.)
Here she is at her new home. Yes, she gets to live in a place that looks like that. And, yes, it is a big improvement over the desert.
One of her favorite hobbies is eating. Actually, its more of a profession for her. She takes it very seriously. I mean, if you survive (I mean thrive) on dirt for 3 years, you must be a professional eater. (In all seriousness, this horse is tough. She thrived in conditions most horses would have starved to death in.)
Her other favorite hobby is taking a bath. You cannot walk this horse through any body of water deeper than her pasterns without fear of taking a bath yourself. She has done it to me on more than one occasion and has got Cowboy H once too. So, for a treat, I take her out to the watering hole and let her have at it.
(See that muzzle sticking out? Ooooooohhh... Awwwww...)
She's come a long way, this little Maria. Where she was a pushing, rearing, kicking, bucking, head-throwing beast, she has become as docile as ever (except when food is around, a horse has to survive man).