The following winter my trainer brought in a horse from a ranch about an hour away. The ranch was a thoroughbred racing ranch called Hart Ranch which also housed horses that had been tried for racing and didn't work out. These horses were kept in outdoor pens in herds and since it was winter, the horse I was shown looked like a hairy nightmare. His name was Sparky and he was the furriest horse I had ever seen. Because his hair was so long, he was a dull brown color; not pretty or flashy like the horses I was used to. However, since he came from the Hart racing barn, he had a brand on his left shoulder. The brand was a heart....get it Hart, heart? For a girl of 11, a horse that had a heart on it was a dream come true. He was also the sweetest horse I had ever seen. He was young, and not proficient with the jumping yet, but he had a kind nature and seemed very trainable. Sparky was mine after a couple of weeks.
It took a few months and some serious "manscaping", but Sparks turned into a very pretty little horse with a cute little heart.
Shortly after, my trainer went a little nuts and left the barn where I trained. To make a long story short, Sparky and I had to change trainers in the middle of the show season. We were able to stay at the same barn, but the adjustment took some time. However, it was better in the long run.
Sparky and I continued showing around LA County and he was a hit. We did very well in our division and won several awards. My dad's favorite TV show at the time was Cheers. I showed Sparks under the show name "Cheers".
He was the sweetest horse in the world. During horse shows, riders and horses spend a lot of time waiting around until it's their turn to ride. One might ride in several classes, but there may be hours of wait time in between each class. Most of the time the horses wait, tied to the horse trailer, eating and the riders spend their time wandering around, watching their friends ride, and eating. I loved this horse so much that when we were waiting around, I'd lead him around with me to watch the other classes. I'd sit in the bleachers, holding onto his rope, and he'd rest his head in my lap as I pet him. How cute is that!
After a few years though, my abilities outgrew him and I was in the market for a new horse. Sadly, my family was a one-horse family and I had to put Sparky up for sale in order to afford a new one.