I had just turned 18. I’d shown a bad Prix St. Georges on a borrowed horse the summer before I started college, and I’d gone to school horseless, because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to really dedicate myself to horses or just ride for fun.

Two weeks into my first semester of college I realized the huge mistake I’d made, and I begged my parents for the opportunity to try for the FEI North American Young Rider Championships. The decision was made to shop in Europe, so off my mom and I flew to Frankfurt, Germany, driving the three hours to Warendorf, and arriving late in the afternoon. It was January, and bitterly cold, and dark. And the agent with whom we were shopping said he had a few horses to see that night, if we were up for it. I was so excited I couldn’t even see straight, but my mom wanted to stay at the hotel and catch a nap, so off I went.

I returned a few hours later declaring that I’d found my horse—the first one I’d seen. My mom laughed. Sure, sure, she said.

But 15 horses later, Bellinger or “Billy” still had my heart. So he came home with us.

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse.