When Camila Ocasio met her horse for the first time, the animal wasn’t in the best shape. But somehow, the pair seemed to have an unspoken understanding -- almost instantly.
“She even hugged me with her neck,” Ocasio said of the initial meeting.
For Ocasio and the horse, whose barn name is Abby, it was a perfect match. Ocasio knew right away; she had to have her.
“I found my mare by destiny,” the 21-year-old Apopka, Florida woman said. “I wasn’t looking for a horse, but when I saw her, I knew that she was going to be my partner forever.”
Ocasio received Abby as a high school graduation present from her parents. She was thrilled.
As for Abby, who is 12 years old, she’s a rescue, and a former police-in-training horse, Ocasio said. She hadn’t been well-cared for by her previous owner, and at first, the animal had little to no trust in humans.
“At first, she would only let me touch her neck,” Ocasio said. “But (these days), we are competing in dressage as training level three.”
You can hear the excitement in Ocasio’s voice as she talks about her beloved horse, who competes under the name “Temporelle.” The pair started off experimenting with barrel racing, but Ocasio said they fell in love with dressage, which is an English-style routine you do with your horse, almost like a dance.
Just like their chance meeting, dressage was an instant fit. (More on that soon!)
Ocasio, who has been riding ever since she was a child, grew up on her mother’s horse, she said, but that animal transitioned into a pasture horse, so the family had been keeping an eye out for a possible horse for Camila.
And then when Camila came upon Abby, through a friend on social media, the rest was history.
Ocasio had been competing on horseback since she was in middle school, but said she “really stepped up” and became more involved when she turned 13.
Now, horses, and Abby specifically, make up a huge part of Ocasio’s life.
Ocasio currently attends Valencia College, but will be attending the University of Central Florida in the spring, and plans to study biology, in hopes of becoming a large animal veterinarian, making a career out of working with horses.
Ocasio visits Abby every day when she’s done with classes, boards her close to home, and spends most weekend days alongside the horse. It’s almost like Ocasio is making up for lost time, and giving Abby the life she always deserved.
As mentioned, it was years ago when Abby was working toward becoming a police horse, but when she didn’t pass some classes, she moved on with another owner, and that’s when things went south, Ocasio said.
The previous owner didn’t have time for her. When Abby and Ocasio first met, the horse was very skinny and had trust issues. Once Ocasio took her in, she got Abby checked by a veterinarian, who found her to be suffering from some arthritis and damage in one of her legs.
“It’s a thing we have to treat, but she’s OK now,” Ocasio said. “When we discovered the injury, we decided to do something easier for her.”
And that’s how they came upon dressage. It’s been a great fit.
“We are still green, but we are determined,” Ocasio said.
And Abby has lots of years left.
For those who aren’t well-versed in horses (including this author!), being 12 years old, for a horse, is similar to being in your 20s, as Ocasio explained.
“A really healthy horse will retire when they’re (about) 40, but they can live up to 70 years, if they’re well cared for,” Ocasio added.
It seems Abby has finally found all the love and care in the world.
“She’s fairly shy with strangers, but with me, she was never shy,” Ocasio said. “It’s like she knew I was her best friend.”
Ocasio’s trainer is very proud of the pair, saying over text message, “(Their) progress has been amazing.”
Perhaps it’s just the beginning for this dynamic duo.
“I love (Abby) with all my heart, and she has changed my life for the better,” Ocasio said.