The Story of Cocoa
 By MoMoz   •   23rd Aug 2010   •   2,737 views   •   10 comments
There is this horse I know, a very special horse, and she has taught me so much. I learned to barrel race on her, I learned how to canter, I learned how to post and back up and hold on tight. This horse taught me the basics of riding and more. Her name is Cocoa.

The Story of CocoaI forget how many summers ago it was, but I arrived at horse camp Monday morning and saw that I was assigned to a horse named Cocoa. I asked around, and finally I was led to the farthest stall on the left. I peeked over the stall door and saw a beautiful dark bay munching on hay. I didn’t know if she was the prettiest horse there, but I knew she sure was pretty.

I was told by my instructor before mounting up, “Cocoa is a lot to handle. She likes to go, and you don’t have to kick. I think she will be a good horse for you to learn on.” And she sure was. I didn’t have to kick with all my might to go forward, I barely had to pull the reins to get her to turn. She had a fast, smooth, canter and I learned how to hold on and keep my balance.

The week of camp went by great! On the last day, we had a show/demonstration for our family and friends. I had to canter around the arena once and then stop at the gate, turn to the right, and start the barrel pattern. Now even though I learned a lot at camp, I was definitely not a pro barrel racer yet.

During my canter around the arena, I bounced in the saddle and tried to balance my best. Then as I rounded the corner, her stride lengthened, she gained speed, and before I knew it, she was almost at a full gallop. “Pull back! Pull back!” I pulled on the reins and said whoa and she steadied to a walk. That’s another thing she taught me, how to say whoa.

I started my barrel pattern at a trot and had a good first turn. I almost ran into the second barrel because I didn’t complete my turn, but Cocoa fixed it by swerving back on track. Then I bounced up to the third barrel at the canter and as I turned it, Cocoa got antsy and went into her little gallop thing again. This time I just held on because I knew she would stop at the gate.

After unsaddling and saying bye to Cocoa, Mrs. Bobbi (my instructor) asked me if I wanted to start taking lessons. I couldn’t turn down that offer, so in August I started taking lessons on Cocoa.

I became a better barrel racer, I stopped bouncing in the saddle at the canter, I learned how to bridle and saddle, hose my horse down after a ride in the heat, and how to ask Cocoa to pick up her correct lead. I learned to complete my turns and keep Cocoa calm and collected. I learned how to sit to the trot without bouncing around, and how to halter, groom, and put all the saddles on their proper racks.

The Story of CocoaAfter several months of lessons, I felt extremely accomplished. I felt I knew waaay more about horses and riding and barrel racing than I did when I started lessons several months earlier. And I did know more. Because of Cocoa, I had learned so much about what it meant to be a good rider.

Then, one day I showed up at lessons and I was written down for Griffin. Hmm… someone else must be riding Cocoa. But no one was. Cocoa was locked away in her stall, looking like she hadn’t been ridden for several days. Without questioning, I rode Griffin.

Griffin knew how to stop. In fact, he would go from a half gallop to a dead stop in seconds and I would find myself halfway over his neck. He taught me how to use my inside leg to push him away from the barrel, because he liked to knock them over. I enjoyed Griffin, and for the next several months I rode him.

Then I was put on Mystery Man. He was the first Arabian I ever rode. He was spunky, crazy, and if I had a picture of him (which for some reason I don’t) you would think he was a horse from the movies. Jet black, long flowing mane, and flexed poll as he galloped. Again, he was the next several months’ lesson horse.

But still no one rode Cocoa.

Finally someone spoke up and asked why no one was riding Cocoa. Mrs. Bobbi explained, “Well she has an abscess growth in her hoof and we have to drain it out frequently. She is wearing a metal plate on her hoof and she can’t really walk without limping. In about a month her hoof should be better and she will be rideable again.”

A few months went by and still no Cocoa. I was riding Peanut in lessons now, and I rode her for so long I forget how long I’ve been riding her. Peanut is one of the youngest horses at the barn, and she is still being patterned for the barrels. She likes to move and is very spunky, and I have to say… she is really… really… tall… She is more of an advanced horse and I learned even more about barrel racing than I had ever known before on her because every lesson, I had to make sure I over stressed my cues with my hands, legs, and seat, so that she would learn them, and I had to lead her into the right pocket so she would get used to that too. It was an incredible learning process teaching her, and her teaching me.

But still no Cocoa. I have not ridden her in forever and I had already forgotten what her gait felt like and how she turned the barrels and everything.

Then I showed up at lessons one day and we were riding bareback. I went to Peanut’s stall but her bridle wasn’t on her hook. On my way to the tack room to get it, I looked on the board and saw that I wasn’t assigned to ride Peanut. I was put down to ride Cocoa.

It was nice to be back on her, and the walk trot lesson was fine. I didn’t ask why I was put on Cocoa, I was just glad to be back on her. Then the next week I was on her again, but this time with a saddle. That meant we would be cantering and working the barrels.

It was my turn to canter around the arena, and the second we took off, I felt a jolt, then a bounce, and then we were moving, but we weren’t cantering. I was bouncing around in the saddle, and Cocoa was literally hopping across the ground. When I had made it all the way around, my instructor said, “Umm she’s not doing so well, I’m going to go get mystery man. You should have seen her, her front legs were all spread out as she ran!” So I rode Mystery Man. Finally, Mrs. Bobbi explained what was wrong with Cocoa.

“Well, you know how Cocoa had that hoof injury? Well she was just about to recover, but then one day while she was in her stall she spooked at something, bolted through her stall door, hopped the wire fence but didn’t jump it right and got tangled in it. Then she ripped one of the fence posts out of the ground trying to get out and there was a cement block still stuck to the bottom of the post, and it swung around and whacked her in the hindquarters. The bruise was so big that it left an indention in her hindquarters and we had to give her steroid shots in the bruise to help build the tissue back up. We have done all kinds of treatments and adjustments to her hindquarters but she will just never be the same…”

Then she said something that broke my heart, “She will never be able to barrel race again.”

I thought about everything Cocoa had taught me, and how smooth her canter used to be and how awesome she used to be at barrels. I thought about everything all of the students had been through with Cocoa and just how… awful it was that she could not barrel race anymore.

So what to do with her now? She can’t canter smoothly, she’ stiff as a rock, and she definitely can’t be used in lessons anymore. Her future is undecided, and the horse that taught me so much is done with her career. We don’t know what to do with her.

But no matter what happens in her future, she will always be the horse, the very special horse, that taught me so much. I learned to barrel race on her, I learned how to canter, I learned how to post and back up and hold on tight. This horse taught me the basics of riding and more. Her name is Cocoa.
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Chris Antley Memorial  MOD 
This is such a touching article!!

*wipes tears*
  32 days ago  •  1,663 views
Holly My Hero  
Awww. Beautiful story. Cocoa sounds a lot like the horse I have now.
  32 days ago  •  1,636 views
Run Free  
wow how unlucky she sounds so perfect
what a touching story im actually crying
*wipes tears*
  32 days ago  •  1,622 views
Padfoot Designs  
Awww, I'm so sorry, she sounds like a great horse!
  31 days ago  •  1,634 views
Aww thanks guys! Yes she was a great horse! I'm just glad she's still alive and didn't have to be euthanized or anything! I really love her so thanks for your comments!
  31 days ago  •  1,645 views
Inactive Member  
Thats such a shame that she can't barrel race anymore! She really sounds perfect!
  31 days ago  •  1,637 views
Oh my goodness thats so sad!!!!! My eyes are actually watering right now and I'm having to wipe them - so so sad. ='c
  30 days ago  •  1,618 views
cocoa is really a good horse tho. She isnt, like, not rideable. She's just not able to race. so ya, its a sad story, but cocoa is still able to ride and little kids love on her all the time!! She has a good life.
  19 days ago  •  1,625 views
No actually she isn't very rideable... they can walk and trot on her but that's it. She isn't ridden in lessons anymore. Yes she still has a good life of food and hanging out in the pasture but she isn't loved on by a bunch of kids other than me and her owners.
  12 days ago  •  1,645 views
lol i luv you....... and cocoa is a sweet horse =)
  Oct 4, 2010  •  1,630 views
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