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Within an hour Amy returned my call. “There’s only one horse that fits that description,” she said. “You’re talking about Ruslan, aren’t you?” “Yes!” I replied emphatically. She could speak only for a short time and so we made arrangements to talk again. Finding Amy Halley revealed as much about the person as it did about the horse. On our second conversation, I was thrilled to hear Amy wanted to visit Ruslan. “He was a great horse,” she declared, “always good natured. I sold him in 2001 when I decided to go to physical therapy school and agonized for months before and after selling him. That was a hard decision for me. I often wondered where he was.” Coincidentally, she said at about the same time I contacted her she had been rummaging through some of Ruslan’s photos and test scores which she kept. “He’s your horse now,” Amy said. “I’ll give you his photos and test scores.”

The Reunion

I eagerly waited for the day when Amy and Ruslan could

reunite and it finally came in the fall of 2009. Amy and her husband Ben drove to the barn and parked their SUV a distance from Ruslan’s turnout. As Amy approached, she called him by a familiar name. “There’s my Roosterman,” she exclaimed. The horse lifted his head definitely reacting to the name and her voice and followed her into the barn. “Hi Ruslan,” Amy continued, as she walked into his stall. She greeted him with a hug around his neck. There we stood in Ruslan’s stall—Amy, Ben and I—with the handsome chestnut seemingly delighted and eager even at 20 to perform his repertoire of stretching exercises for Amy. No matter that many miles and several years had distanced the two, on this balmy day in October it was like they had never parted. Seeing the exchange of affection between Ruslan and Amy after all that time is clear evidence that the heart always remembers kindness and love. Then in a sweet gesture, Ruslan purposefully took a step toward me and rubbed his head against my chest. “I guess we know whose horse he is now,” said Ben.

Of course I beamed with pride. That gesture quelled any doubt I had whether or not Ruslan recognized me as his forever mom. Amy owned Ruslan for seven years and competed with him all the way to fourth level dressage. The next step for him was Prix St. Georges. As a rider, in 1994, she qualified and participated in the North American Young Riders Championships. Amy said Ruslan came to the U.S. as a four year old and settled into a barn in Reading, Vermont where she was a working student at the time. “He was very green, but started under saddle, walk, trot, canter,

Reunion day with Amy.

just full of himself. He loved to do sliding stops with free longing. But he was always gentle and easy to work around,” Amy remembered.

A Passion for Dressage

Amy says she does not come from a ‘horsey’ background.

“We’re a family of skiers,” she mused, noting her brother was a professional snowboarder. She got started with horses when at the age of eight she accompanied a friend to her riding lesson. “I just tagged along,” she said, “and that was it! I knew what I wanted to do. I had to take riding lessons.” Her love for riding blossomed quickly as a youngster.

Between eight and twelve, she trained with Mary Gray who taught her to be a versatile rider. “Every weekend it

Amy competing Ruslan in his younger years.

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