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That special horse - spin off from the EN series

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  • That special horse - spin off from the EN series

    I enjoyed reading the first entry in the EN stories about "the horses that started it all". It made me think of my special horse.

    I got Gizmo when he was 7 in 1999. He had only raced 8 times and had spent some time as a pony horse on the track before I got him. I was told he didn't like to jump We did our first preliminary and two long format CCI* together. I sold him to a young rider in 2004. She moved from her first novice event through the CCI* on him and then he was sold in 2006 to a junior rider who very successfully rode novice and training on him (she was too young to go preliminary). At the end of his 18th year, she moved on to another horse and I bought him back (I had let them know from the get go that I would be willing to do so). He was leased to another junior rider who did her first recognized events on him. He has now gone to the woman who was the barn manager when I first bought him for her to get her eventing chops back. He will be 21 in the spring (or January 1 since he is an OTTB).

    He has completed more than 100 recognized events, ~60 of them at preliminary or above. He went around the xc clean at all but 8 of those (where I was figuring out prelminary with him).

    I know many of you have similar horses (still eventing or retired), so since none of us are likely to make EN, I'd love to hear those stories here.
    OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!

  • #2
    What a great story and tribute to an awesome horse. Thanks for sharing.

    I don't have the event horse story but I had a great horse given to me by a friend for his retirement. He was in his mid to late 20's by then. I had know him thru a series of ownerships and was well aware of his past and the stories. His name was the Bird b/c he'd jump out of anything if he had the notion. I think he was 30ish when I saw him go sailing over the paddock gate that was hung high b/c the ground dipped, probably 4'6"-5'. Then he'd passage around the yard to show off.

    He'd had a life of boarding barns so his entertainment would be spooking at open arena doors or something 200 yds away. He really welcomed the full-time turnout and the long trail rides in the woods, bareback with a halter and lead rope. He'd stop on a ridgetop and gaze for as long as you'd let him. When I did saddle him up he loved to run and do the humpty buck and get to play (at his age!), then he'd settle down to work just fine. He just needed to express himself.

    He was my kids' first horse. He'd pack them around bareback for hours. They adored him and visa versa. Well anyhow - he's what started everything around here for them with horses growing up. He really enjoyed his retirement, like your guy he had great value and ended up happy with a life he loved.

    p.s. yes I had a horse named Bird and a cat named Chicken so try to teach your babies what words mean.
    Last edited by pony grandma; Nov. 29, 2012, 10:31 AM. Reason: sp & add
    Don't let anyone tell you that your ideas or dreams are foolish. There is a millionaire walking around who invented the pool noodle.

    Comment


    • #3
      I was/am one of those lucky kids who was pretty much born on a horse. I've always had one, but I always refer to Mickey as my *first* horse. He was the one that started it all. My first real event horse. The horse who was my best friend and made the "horse fever stick"

      I got him right before Thanksgiving when I was 15 and he was 5 (I'm now 24 and he's 14). When I got him, I had never even ridden an TB, let alone dealt with an OTTB whose last race was in the October right before I got him. I'm not sure whose idea this was to even go look at him. I had out grown my haflinger who hated jumping, I wanted to jump, and my Pony Club DC rehomed OTTB's. When I met him, as soon as I saw him, I just knew he was mine.

      I got lucky with him. So so so so lucky. Not all OTTB's or horses in general would have been safe for this endeavor: green +green =black& blue except in this case green + green = best friends & a little wild. Don't get me wrong, it was rough, we progressed slowly, I had some help retraining him, but not enough, and I was a brave kid (still am). He has a lot of heart and tried to do whatever I asked of him. We were the pair that was a little scary to watch jump... In my mind we were going to go all the way. Maybe I was a little delusional, but I didn't have anyone to tell me otherwise, in my eyes he had perfect conformation, other than having a long weak back, built a little downhill, and really really funky feet. Ironically, despite all the funkyness he was always sound.

      We did a T3D in 2009, which is still my favorite horse show memory of all time. We finished on our terrible dressage score (like we always did. ha). We attempted prelim, got around on our 4th try. (I was mostly self taught in the jumping area-dressage was hard because of his build) I went off to be a WS for an UL rider, found out that maybe he wasn't quite the athlete that I envisioned him to be, and that he really should be a training level and under horse. I made the hard decision to sell him because I did not want to do training level forever. I chose my goals over my best friend and it broke my heart.

      It took me a year to sell him, I had long accepted the fact that this had to happen. I had been keeping him at my house with the ponies and he hated the lifestyle and was miserable. I couldn't really afford to take care of two TB's and my new horse was a lot higher maintenance. It still completely broke my heart when it did happen. The good news is that he now belongs to the best family and little girl ever! I know he is everything to her that he was to me.

      http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...0-15-09331.jpg

      http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...T3Daysp051.jpg
      -Chelsie
      "Hell yes I can ride. I was riding when I fell off!"

      Comment


      • #4
        I still have the one that started it all. I bought him as a five year old, when I was 20. He'd gone to a couple schooling jumper shows, but no eventing. He's coming 11 now, and I'm 26.

        I've been lucky beyond belief with him. He's a chestnut TB, so you'd think he'd have a bit of crazy (so many CH TBs do!), but he's possibly the sanest horse I've ever met. He's a giant dog, really. Stands in the cross tie area with no restraints other than a command to stay. Will stand stock still in ice boots with no one watching him. Will body clip with no halter on.

        We've done our first Training, Prelim, CIC/CCI*, Intermediate, CIC**/CCI**, and Advanced together. He only ever jumps as high as he needs to, so every level I thought he was limited in scope. He's not. I learned that when we jumped at least six foot over a Weldon's at Poplar last spring that probably had seven foot brush. He's bold as all get out, he's clever, and stops even when I badly mess up are so far and few between (even in lessons) that I maybe get a stop out of him once or twice a year.

        His main flaws are he's a very, very slight cribber (self taught). Doesn't do it if you feed him his grain on the floor, you don't even need a cribbing collar. He's nervous on the trailer, but we're going to try and get him more exposure now that I finally own a trailer. He's nervous in the dressage ring at shows, although I'm pretty sure it's 90% me because he's literally fine until I get nervous. We're going to work on that by going to dressage schooling shows (also helped by having a trailer now). He doesn't have rails if I get him to a good spot (again, I get nerves so it's either brilliant or disastrous lately).

        Biggest flaw is small feet that tend to get contracted heels. That's why we haven't been out this fall, he's regrowing his feet. The situation we were in the past four years was a lovely, well-managed facility, but it didn't work for his feet. I'm finally in a place where I can fix that, and hopefully manage it properly from here on it. He's young, we have time on our side.

        Perfect horse though, really. I can't wait to see how far we go once he's back with me next spring. Olympics, probably not ever. But Rolex? It's not out of the realm of possibility.

        I very much consider myself the luckiest person ever to get him as my first horse. On the other hand, any future horses I own are going to have a tough time living up to him.

        Comment


        • #5
          That special horse for me wasn't mine. I still have yet to own a horse, but in the beginning of my riding there was this lesson horse that I unofficially adopted. His name was Smokey and he will always be my first horse love.

          He would come to me from anywhere in the field if I called him, would nicker at me from his stall if he heard me coming around a corner. He knew the car my mom, and eventually I, drove to get to the barn. Being part arabian, part welsh pony the boy had quite the personality and stubbornness but I loved him for it. I would watch with a secret pride as he would drag the younger lesson kids around the farm to the grass because he never did that with me (after the first attempt ). He taught me to fall (he spooked a lot in the ring), to love the feeling of running free, to love jumping and the love of riding bareback (he never spooked if I rode him bareback). He taught me what is was like to have a horse that loved you.

          If I saw the lesson kids putting him back without grooming or cooling off I'd do it. If I saw him all muddy I'd take extra time to groom him off. I even had a little tack box in front of him with fly spray and treats for him. He was my special boy.

          Its been years since I moved, I haven't seen him since then, but I like to think that if he's still alive (he was 15 when I started riding him and that was 10 years ago) he still remembers me. I will always remember him.
          Telling a worrier to relax is counterproductive. Then we worry about relaxing.

          Comment


          • #6
            A lot of people know at least a little bit about Gwennie. She was my schoolmistress, that horse that just took me everywhere. I met her for the first time very inauspiciously--I had moved my TB mare to a new barn on Easter Sunday and the BO told me to just make ourselves at home, that nobody would be there due to the holiday. Well, I settled Kelly in and took a look around and noticed this poor chestnut mare SHIVERING in the cold rain, looking at me with big sad eyes. Someone had turned her out with her non-waterproof stable blanket on and she was SOAKED and miserable. Not knowing who she was or where she belonged I just opened the gate and told her "go on in, horse" and she calmly took herself to her stall and put herself away. I changed her blanket and gave her some hay and it was WEEKS later before I found out she was a very fancy event horse that was winning all over the place at Prelim/CCI* level.

            Her owner and I became acquaintances and then friends since I boarded there for several years, and eventually she leased Gwen to a young rider at the barn who had 3 great seasons on her, winning everything in sight. Time passed and I moved to the other side of the state. A couple of years later, it so happened that Lindsay (the YR who had leased Gwen) came to go to college in my little town and we got back in touch and she would come ride with me often.

            After a year or so at my new place my Kelly had declared herself FINISHED with jumping (she was never brave) and Bonnie was still only 2-3 years old at this time, so I mentioned once, while driving to the barn with Lindsay, that I might buy another horse. I remember this so clearly! Lindsay, who is a force of nature, told me "You need to buy Gwen." So I did! She was 16 years old at the time and I had never ridden her before in all the time I boarded at the same barn, and the one day I went to try her she was lame with a cut on her leg so all we did was trot around a couple of times. Didn't matter. I knew the moment my butt hit the saddle that this horse would TAKE CARE OF ME.

            And she did. Never fell off her, never had a stop, and she never once made a mistake, ever, while I was riding her other than blowing past the third element of a coffin at age TWENTY because she was pulling my arms out. I'd been "almost Training level" for years with Kelly, making 2 so-so attempts at Training level, but with Gwen we started out at Training from day one and she got me up to speed within a couple of trips. If I didn't know the answer, she showed me. If I did know the answer, she'd go along with my decision. If I screwed up, she bailed me out. EVERY time.

            God I loved that mare and I miss her still. She was, in Lindsay's words, the "best horse ever".
            Click here before you buy.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by deltawave View Post
              A lot of people know at least a little bit about Gwennie. She was my schoolmistress, that horse that just took me everywhere. I met her for the first time very inauspiciously--I had moved my TB mare to a new barn on Easter Sunday and the BO told me to just make ourselves at home, that nobody would be there due to the holiday. Well, I settled Kelly in and took a look around and noticed this poor chestnut mare SHIVERING in the cold rain, looking at me with big sad eyes. Someone had turned her out with her non-waterproof stable blanket on and she was SOAKED and miserable. Not knowing who she was or where she belonged I just opened the gate and told her "go on in, horse" and she calmly took herself to her stall and put herself away. I changed her blanket and gave her some hay and it was WEEKS later before I found out she was a very fancy event horse that was winning all over the place at Prelim/CCI* level.

              Her owner and I became acquaintances and then friends since I boarded there for several years, and eventually she leased Gwen to a young rider at the barn who had 3 great seasons on her, winning everything in sight. Time passed and I moved to the other side of the state. A couple of years later, it so happened that Lindsay (the YR who had leased Gwen) came to go to college in my little town and we got back in touch and she would come ride with me often.

              After a year or so at my new place my Kelly had declared herself FINISHED with jumping (she was never brave) and Bonnie was still only 2-3 years old at this time, so I mentioned once, while driving to the barn with Lindsay, that I might buy another horse. I remember this so clearly! Lindsay, who is a force of nature, told me "You need to buy Gwen." So I did! She was 16 years old at the time and I had never ridden her before in all the time I boarded at the same barn, and the one day I went to try her she was lame with a cut on her leg so all we did was trot around a couple of times. Didn't matter. I knew the moment my butt hit the saddle that this horse would TAKE CARE OF ME.

              And she did. Never fell off her, never had a stop, and she never once made a mistake, ever, while I was riding her other than blowing past the third element of a coffin at age TWENTY because she was pulling my arms out. I'd been "almost Training level" for years with Kelly, making 2 so-so attempts at Training level, but with Gwen we started out at Training from day one and she got me up to speed within a couple of trips. If I didn't know the answer, she showed me. If I did know the answer, she'd go along with my decision. If I screwed up, she bailed me out. EVERY time.

              God I loved that mare and I miss her still. She was, in Lindsay's words, the "best horse ever".
              DW, that made me cry. Thanks!

              I have had so many special horses in my life. I am truly lucky. I'm not sure who THAT horse is. They have all taught me so much! So, maybe I'll do a quick sentence or two about the special ones that come to mind.

              Neigh My first horse, my first love. Neigh and I came to eventing together, and he figured it out so well and loved it so much, that he went on to teach a few others about it. He is approaching 27 and while happily retired, is still so full of "piss and vinegar" that he gives my mom hell!

              Elf My first "real" evet horse. He was one of the sale horses in the barn I started at as a working student, and was given to me as my ride. He had gone prelim with another working student and foxhunted in Ireland. He taught me to sit the eff still, go fast, and laugh no matter what is going on under you in the dressage ring. I also learned what hunting is supposed to be on him.

              Ralph How to be brief about Ralph? Ralph was my first beginning to end horse. He showed up in our barn when our hay guy acquired him in payment for a debt from a customer...what was a 200lb farmer going to do with a barely 15.2h, mousy little TB. Mousy was how he got his name...he was little and mousy brown, but wicked smart...like Ralph S. Mouse (a Beverley Cleary character). After I pulled his mane and clipped his whiskers, we realized there was a cute little horse under the shag! I ended up buying him for the cost of the load of hay the farmer was owed. I broke him and in fairly short order moved him up to prelim. I miss him to this day. I made a lot of mistakes on him, but I also learned so, so much from him.

              Reilly I rode Reilly about the same time as Ralph, and they couldn't have been more opposite! Were Ralph was little and plain, Reilly was big and flashy (17.1 or so of big and flashy). Were Ralph was fearless, Reilly was a bit of a chicken. Reilly taught me that if I'm brave, your horse will be brave. After a few events of stuffing his big, flashy butt around, one day (at Groton House!) he finally figured out how to be brave and ran away with me!!! Loved him. Another one with a sad ending.

              Zeke I often referred to Zeke as the "BFG" here (Big Fancy Grey...though, he's not that big). Zeke was another horse I started. Unlike Ralph, he went on to a new home, then came back, then sold him to a good customer. This horse is just special to me. He taught me that, no matter what, you MUST HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR. He ALWAYS had a sense of humor...even when we might not be sharing the same joke! Zeke is a heart horse that I ache for...lost him when I left my old job.

              Vernon What do you say about Vernon? I loved him. He taught me that sometimes loving a horse means finding him a new job, even when it breaks your heart to a million little pieces.

              Toby There are no words for this horse. Really.

              See? I am so, so lucky! So many special horses (and there are more...these would be horses that would end up on a nameplate belt, kind of horses!). They all have or had something different to teach me and I am ever so grateful to all of them (and the people who let them grace my life, since they weren't all mine). How can you pick just one special horse who "made" you??? They all give a little something to make you the rider you are today. That's how I feel about these guys, and others who just don't make the nameplate list.
              Amanda

              Comment


              • #8
                My special ones so far....

                COPPER. My wonderful, wonderful red stallion. i rode him at exercise at the track after college and bought him for $2k after his last race as a 5yo. He took me through the 4'3" jumper divisions, Prelim eventing and 2nd level dressage. He was the first horse I jumped over 5' on, and he made it seem easy. Unfortunately arthritis from a traffic accident (totaled the car) cut short his UL career, but he was the perfect school horse, and took multiple students in 3'6" Jumpers and was running Training with a student at 18. He passed away from a stroke at 20.

                LIVI. My warmblood bronc who could get 7s on dressage movements that included bucking. Taught me a lot about tact.... Whereas Copper was very forgiving, Livi took two ounces too much weight on a seatbone as an act of war. Went Intermediate despite her mental and physical tension issues, she was one of those horses who you would walk up to an enormous jump on xc, and think "ah, all I gotta do is kick".

                REVI. The little redheaded TB mare that will jump ANYTHING. One of my w/s started her but she didn't get big enough so she gave her to me. Her only xc jump penalty was the result of me forgetting the second half of a bending line combination, and we're aiming for Intermediate in the spring. I've been told by multiple BNRs that she is my ticket to Advanced and the nicest horse I will EVER own. (although, I have her half sister who looks like she will be taller and better at dressage, so we shall see!)

                JONES. My new young TB stallion. Good at dressage AND jumping! Only five so who knows how far he'll go, but hands down the most fun and mentally 'engaged', eager to please horse I've ever ridden.

                Jennifer
                Third Charm Event Team

                Comment


                • #9
                  Mine was my sister's horse, Tommy (hence my name). He was an arab/TB cross gelding, who was just so cool. I would ride him bareback for hacks and jump around the garden on him (the sunchairs were a favourite jump). The first time I showed was on him, a three day event, and in the XC I lost my stirrup on the first fence - I couldn't get it back so I crossed them and finished the course like that. He brought us in at first, we ended up fourth overall.

                  He had a very cool sense of humour - he knew when you wanted to play (would buck and rear - we didn't know that was a bad thing) or work (nose to the grindstone and safe as the day is long). My sister would sleep with him every now and then in his stall - I wasn't allowed to.

                  We had to leave him in Kenya when we left in 1986, but he was in good hands teaching another little girl how to ride.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Mine is Heather. JC reg Heather A, USEA reg Teacher's Pet.
                    She packed my pre-teen/teenage butt around novice, training, and prelim as safe as any schoolmaster and she had no more experience than I did. She taught me more than I can explain.

                    I retired her from competition 10 years ago, since then she's gone on to be "the horse" for another girl.

                    Now, the mare is 23. She is fully retired and lives the life. I see her every time I go to the barn cause my horse lives there too.

                    I have a post all about her in my blog if anyone cares to read it. She is a truly special horse.
                    Yes, I ride a pony. No, he would not be ideal for your child. No, he is not a re-sale project...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I want to play too. . . even if mine is in a different sport.

                      The one that started it all for me is Bryn. You will be seeing him from time to time on EN as I will be covering combined driving.

                      In the fall of 2009 I made a very difficult decision to walk away from a position I dearly loved and resigned as the competitions director/organizer of a major venue in the southeast. The community where I live has a strong combined driving presence and as I really never liked to ride (owing to never finding the right horse) I thought I'd try driving as an alternative. I had driven with a friend once or twice before and didn't find it particularly exhilerating. Quite the opposite - I was terrified!

                      My next door neighbor breeds welsh ponies and is a driver. At about the same time I was disengaging myself from my position, she was handed a pair of ponies and equipment. Harnesses, carriages, registration papers, the whole enchilada. The ponies had been driven in a tandem as well as as part of a four in hand by a local guy. Quality care was pretty much non-existant and the leader, a sad, shaggy little bay pony had been allowed to stand around on foundered feet for about 18 months without any real care. He road foundered/concussion founder, probably exacerbated by the fact he was cushionoid, not on any medication or proper diet. A sadder sight you have seen have probably seen only in some of killer pens.

                      We tried him as a single, and the first time I took up the reins I knew I had come home (in equine terms). To this day I wonder why it took me so long to realize that driving ponies was where I needed to be. It took a year to get him healthy and going. Brynnie had so much anxiety - I had to put him to in front of a fence as he would bolt and buck when we first started off. Panicky in the dressage ring, opinionated and belligerent in cones and undone in the hazards. He proudly carried his baggage - ten years of bad experiences and self preservation behavior.

                      Three years later, we just finished our 12th CDE. He has taught me patience and perserverance. Brynnie's true personality shnes through now - the little pony that could with a gotta go attitude. His drive-ability has skyrocketed. We have finished in the top five in ten out of 12 competitions, in the top three in eight of those. The real icing on the cake was our last marathon. Every turn, every angle, every spin - agressive and confident. That light bulb moment when the final connection gets made and you are finally a true team with your horse.

                      I love my little throwaway pony. We won't make it much higher than we are now, but the journey has been life altering, and I woudn't have missed a minute for the world.
                      www.amiddle-agedmadwomantakesthereins.blogspot.com

                      www.pegasusridge.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Love these posts! Very heartwarming.

                        I would play but due to my age, and beginning riding at age 4, it would be a book of horses across over 50 years. From a 14 hd grade auction find, to a 12 hd Welsh Pony to my current Heart Horse, and about 6-8 in between.
                        -Ann

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                        • #13
                          I love reading all of these. I have stories of three special mares that are too long to include, but Pegusasmom, your post about Bryn just makes me very happy. Such a perfect "little throwaway pony"!!

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