|Soledad on "Joey" Photo by Melissa Hogan|
“It’s amazing to me that horses like mine could be slaughtered. Horses that are really a throw-away for some people are, for our family, horses that we’ll have forever.”
Soledad returned to her childhood love of riding when she received an imported Warmblood, as a 45th birthday present from her husband.
Unfortunately, in 2010,the mare spooked and in a fall O’Brien tore her knee badly.
It also damaged her confidence. Her Warmblood was a bit too much horse for her, but when she decided to find another riding horse (her Warmblood is being leased), they found Sedona, a five year old mare at Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue. Soledad and Sedona hit it off and was soon at her upstate New York farm.
Now, Aoja, whose barn nickname is Joey, has also found a home with the O’Briens. This adopted bay, described as “bombproof” by O’Brien, has become a favorite with her two daughters.
“Sophia (12) is a shy rider, with a long, beautiful leg. He goes much slower for her. And 10 year old Cecelia is the gymnast who wants to go faster and is teaching him to jump cross-rails,” she says, adding that not only does he accommodate their styles, but also those of their friends. She even rides him herself from time to time.
“When you’re riding, you can’t do three things at once. You can’t be texting and emailing. All you can do is ride. It’s amazing. I like the idea of learning and focusing and figuring it out.”