Part 1- For those that have come, changed my life and have now moved on to greener pastures.
Comanche – the one who started it all.
We began our relationship when I was fifteen and he was four. An Appaloosa gelding trained in several Western disciplines we had a rough start – apparently he was not thrilled with his new partner (me). After several weeks of hair pulling and anguished looks from my mother I guess he finally decided that, perhaps, I was okay after all and such began a three and a half decade long commitment. During that time we would ride over hill and dale, for hours and hours every day, competing occasionally, but mostly just enjoying each other’s company. When he passed, at the age of 39, there was no doubt he was ready and he parted this world, several winters ago, in my arms on a bitterly cold day. On his way from this world to the next he did manage to have a last word as the window of the vet’s truck shattered into a billion pieces as soon as the deed was done. I knew it was his way of saying that he was once again able to run free so I laughed – the vet gave me a funny look – and, with amazingly wonderful memories in place, we all went on with the rest of our day. That night I dreamed of our youthful and carefree rides and woke, for the first time in a long time, free of concern for my very old friend.
When Comanche passed he left behind another old friend of 39 years. Amigo – a mustang/QH cross whom my sisters shared – he left this world shortly after Comanche at the age of 44. Together Amigo and Comanche carried their (first) young and (then) maturing riders on many great adventures – all of which remain as some of the best times of our lives. Our amazing mother drove back and forth to the barn (two 45 minute round trips a day) to drop us off where we spent all day exploring, playing hide and seek (yes on horseback) and trotting down the country road on foggy nights. This was a particularly favorite activity because, added to the clip-clopping of the horses hooves on the pavement, we would all sing at the top of our lungs and laugh at the thought of driving the folks in the few houses that lined the road nuts as they tried to see through the fog and figure out where the disembodied voices and clip-clopping of unseen horse hooves could possibly be coming from – childish folly yes –but oh such great fun.
Chipster Magoo – a Pony of the Americas gelding that was “thrown in” as an enticement for me to purchase his pasture buddy. The pasture buddy was re-homed shortly after coming to me – we definitely did not see eye to eye – and Chip stayed with me until he reached the age of 32 – 18 years after his arrival. This bold colorful little horse carried many a child to their first event. His indomitable spirit created a need for his riders to work at their skills – he would not tolerate being pulled by the mouth – but once that was agreed upon he gave them his all and protected them throughout the trial. For a little horse his trot was breathtaking and anytime I think back I can’t help but smile to think of his generous heart.
Prince Dynasty – this four-year-old Appaloosa gelding began my journey into Classical Riding. A master of collection he, with the help of my instructor, taught me a great deal about how horses function. Not an easy journey as he was not an easy horse to school. We went through many instructors to find one that truly understood the classical principles and could apply them to such a horse. Once we were placed on the right track this compact athletic beast went from being called a “pig” – yes by the very instructor who showed us the way – to “an American Lipizzaner”. We mastered the lateral movements, first in-hand and then mounted, created beautiful piaffe, passage and pirouette, and managed a fairly decent levade at his prime. Prince, or Porky Pink as he was lovingly called due to his white coat and pink skin (and yes maybe because of his attitude), was an amazing teacher and although he appeared difficult was in fact just trying to inform me that my approach was incorrect – and incorrect I was more often than not. Once I finally managed to ask in a manner that made sense he gave me his all and very willingly. He stayed with me until the fall of 2008. As it became more and more difficult for him to rise and every step seemed more painful than the next we agreed it was time and at the age of 31 he joined the others, on the hill in the back fields of my property.
Everyday I walk the dogs past our fallen friends - very thankful that I am able to keep them close. Two apple trees mark the graves of these and other horses that have touched my life. Memories of each enrich me daily. I feel blessed for having known such great equine spirits and wanted to share a bit of their lives with you.
Thanks for stopping by and see ya ‘round the barnyard.