Meet Haley & Kesari, the next gorgeous pair from The Second Chances Project! Kesari hit the jackpot when he was purchased by Haley at the Cranbury auction. He’d already spent time in the auction world and was in need of a soft landing – which Haley more than provided. I photographed Haley & Kesari at Legacy Riding Stables in Sayreville, NJ, where Kesari lives the good life with his friends. If Legacy Stables looks familiar, it’s because it’s been featured here before! I photographed Allyson & Poncho here earlier in the year, and was excited to go back to Legacy and work with my new friends.

After reading, scroll through to the bottom to see some of Haley’s own photographs of her and Kesari!

Haley & Kesari | Legacy Riding Stables, Sayreville, NJ

Horse: Kesari, 9 years old, quarterhorse, photographed at Legacy Riding Stables in Sayreville, NJ

Discipline: trail riding

How it all started…

I purchased Kesari through Cranbury Auction Stables. I called Penny Parker for shipping/quarantine quotes, she asked what I was looking for and told me about a horse that ran through last night. I called and purchased [him] that night. I know from his original coggins that he ran through New Holland Auction before being purchased by Cranbury Auction.

Kesari was 7 years old when I purchased him. He did not come with any papers. He is my first horse.

a little history…

I had been wanting a horse of my own for awhile. I always told myself if I had the choice to finally buy I would want a dun/buckskin horse that reminded me of Spirit in some way (really holding on to that childhood dream). I had been watching the auctions for some time and still have screen shots in my phone of horses that were hopeful potentials. I was working the night of [Kesari’s] auction and got into the live video late but just in time to see a nice dun QH go through which I thought had sold. I called Penny Parker the next day just to get some shipping & quarantine prices so I [could] plan out a budget and be ready to buy by the next auction. After describing what I was looking for, she mentioned the horse I saw go through that night but he actually didn’t sell. I immediately called and purchased him.

I was recently getting out of the hunter/jumper scene and I just wanted to do more low key things [with Kesari]. I wanted to ride without the pressure of showing. We mostly trail ride. But I do have a bit of a spark back to maybe do some low level schooling shows.

how & when we met…

[Kesari] was in decent shape [when I purchased him]. His mane and tail were filled with burrs which were a nightmare [to get] out. [He was] under-muscled, if anything, from lack of riding. While he did ride through the auction, he did not have a riding video posted of him like most horses do from Cranbury before the sale. When the trainer came out to test ride some horses in the quarantine barn, [Kesari] acted like he had never been saddled. He bucked, reared, and even when the trainer did sit on him for a few minutes, [Kesari] had no idea what to do and wouldn’t move off leg pressure.

Everyone was very supportive [when I purchased Kesari]. There were a few bumps in the road which led to some discouragement/reconsidering as this was my first time training/working with a horse who hadn’t been ridden. We really persevered though. It took a lot of time, research, and patience on my end, [and] with the help of a great farm family and instructor we are in a great place now.

our lowest point…

Definitely in the beginning I felt like an idiot, but a determined one. I had lost a lot of confidence in my riding which is what led me to get out of the showing scene and I felt like my only escape was to get my own horse. So what better way to build your confidence then getting an unbroke horse. I watched about a million hours of videos online because god forbid my anxiety let me ask a human for help. But it seemed to work because we made fantastic progress on the ground. [We] worked up to our first ride and we could walk and trot great. [If I were to] ask for a canter? [He] would crow hop me off every time. We rode for months but never cantered. I took him to a trainer to put some miles on him for a month and we finally cantered! [I] brought [Kesari] home, [and he] bucked me off [when I asked] for the canter. Back to knocked confidence, ground work, and just walk/trotting. I finally worked up enough courage to ask my instructor to do some exercise rides with my horse. I knew I was tensing up before the canter and I needed someone else who wasn’t nervous to get those initial [canters] under saddle on him. After that I was finally able to canter my horse at home during our lessons together and eventually on my own in the arena which was huge for my confidence coming back.

our highest point…

I would have to say being able to go for a gallop is one of the highest points. I really hate admitting how much confidence I lost after having a bad fall off of another horse, so for this horse to really build me back up to this point speaks volumes. He’s a a pretty slow, easy going horse. He walks and trots to the beat of a death march. To be able to ask him to turn it on and go for a gallop, then come back [to me] nicely, really shows how much dedication it took to get here and how thankful I am for having a horse who is so forgiving. I could have easily ruined this horse with my lack of knowledge but thankfully Kesari wasn’t too hard on me and could take a few jokes.

where we are now…

The defining moment in our relationship is definitely when he comes when I call him. The only goal I had in mind when I purchased my first horse was to finally have a one-on-one bond with no expectations. I just wanted a safe riding partner that I could hang out with. I feel like all of that comes together when I can go to the fence of where my horse lives out 24/7 with his buddies, and I can call his name, and his head pops up out of the hay feeder with his ears pointing forward. Even if it is because I’m standing there and he knows I’m about to shove a handful of treats down his throat, he chooses to leave his friends and food and come hang out with me.

Here are some of Haley’s own pictures of her and Kesari.

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