After winning at Davao, there were a few smaller competitions here and there that I joined with Sahara more for fun than anything else. Time was running out for me and Sahara. I was taking the year off before I would fly to Oregon where I would take my nursing board exam.
My goal with all of my horses, and horses I come across, is to have a respectful, trusting, and fun relationship. My ultimate goal with Sahara because she was so much bigger and faster than Frisky or Hidalgo was to be able to ride her tackless in the open. No bit, bridle or saddle. Her speed and spice could be intimidating at times for me. Over the short time I had with her and all the experiences big and small. I started trusting her more and vice versa. I use to just hop on and sit but eventually, we got to a point where I could get on and ride her around the farm just fine at a walk. Eventually moved to riding her outside our farm and on trails with just a rope around her neck.
Our very last ride around the barangay (the smallest political unit in the country) was bridle-less. I had the saddle more for both of our comfort since it was going to be an hour. It was bittersweet knowing we had reached that level and it was all coming to an end. We even ended up cantering and galloping home and she would stop when asked. It is a ride I will never forget.
I have a video of one of our first tackless rides together. Can you tell I am actually pretty scared? I am clutching her mane, surprised I didn't rip it off. I say "Ho" so many times I mind as well finished up with " MERRY CHRISTMAS!". Watching the video now clearly Sahara was in a super calm frame of mind compared to me.
The last month I had with her I did a few trail rides with friends and it was not too hard at the time to leave her because I always assumed I could just ship her over or something like that. However, the world had other plans for us. Shipping a horse is not that straightforward. I got to see her and Frisky 3 years later and she acted like I never left and leaving the 2nd time was much harder because I missed it: my family, The Philippines and my horses. However, Frisky and Sahara screened my future husband Nathan. Those two are very judgmental and they seemed to love and accept Nathan. Sahara kept trying to grab Nathan's attention or shirt sleeve while Frisky tried to scare the crap out of him repeatedly. Never seen those two interested so in someone. My parents loved and accepted Nathan too just in case anyone was wondering. Hidalgo, unfortunately, passed before I could come back. I know he would have loved Nathan and at least Nathan wouldn't feel outnumbered too much by us girls.
I eventually ended up giving Sahara to JJ because he was keeping watch over her while I was gone. I got to see both Sahara and Frisky again in 2019 and she was a happy clam not being ridden much but instead being an occasional broodmare. It was the last time I would see Frisky as she passed in 2021 but I am glad the last time I saw her she was healthy and happy.
I remember losing Freedom but Frisky and Hidalgo filled or overfilled that hole with their antics. I also had Sahara. Leaving them was hard.
I did end up buying a horse here who looked very similar to Sahara however personality-wise. Nothing like her. My expectations might have been high and I eventually knew I had to sell that horse, best for both of us. For a very long time, I just felt like no horse could replace Sahara.