A book should never be judged by its cover- we hear this all the time, and often applied to the horse world as well. But the fact still remains that there are people out there who have very strong prejudices about colors and breeds and all sorts of things. Ever heard someone say “Hell hath no fury like a chestnut thoroughbred mare”? Well, I’m not here to judge anybody’s opinions on colors, breeds, whatever, but it got me thinking about the unique horses I have grown up with over the years, and I thought I would chronicle them here for you!
Heidi (Shetland Pony)
Heidi was my first pony, I was probably 4 or so when we got her and she’s the one that started me riding and even showing. I remember riding in the walk trot classes with 20 or so other horses, and being the only pony. Definitely a saint of a pony, and she lived out the rest of her life well into her twenties with our family.
Heidi in her youth and enjoying retirement in her old age
We had several haflingers over the years, but Tanner was especially important to me. He was a trail riding machine, and a fantastic jumper. We foxhunted first flight together and did tons of parades, fun shows, even barrel racing! For a draft type pony this guy was super athletic and a real confidence builder for me.
Tanner in a July 4th Parade and in a Jumper Show
Merry (Irish Sporthorse mare)
Merry was my first real horse. While she was probably way too much horse for me at the time, she taught me a ton. She was a straight show jumper in England and together we learned about dressage and eventing. Merry never touched a rail, and definitely had a bit of that fire-breathing-showjumper in her that never translated well in the dressage ring, but we still navigated successfully up the levels to Training. When I left for college we bred her to a Friesian stud and she produced one of the prettiest fillies I have seen to this day.
Portrait with Merry and at one of our first events
Mac (Haflinger stallion/gelding)
Mac was a stunning horse that we bought as a stallion from Ohio. He was a former National Driving Champion, but had less than 10 rides on him when he arrived. He was a super fun horse, whose naughtiness landed him as a gelding after a while. I evented him through Beginner Novice. It was always funny that he seemed to do no wrong in dressage, judges seemed to be fascinated by his dark liver chestnut color and snowy white mane. He also did very well in the breed shows in Raleigh (only time we could win money through showing) which were so much fun!
Mac, our first ride, and on the beach
Ivan (Irish Draught stallion/gelding)
I was never really meant to ride Ivan, as he came to us as a two year old stud and was meant as a sales prospect. To make a long story short though, he ended up coming home as a gelding and spent the next several years with me at school. He was exceptionally talented in jumping and dressage, but had a definite naughty streak that kept me from eventing him. Ivan was a big personality though and my heart horse for a long time. He was the first horse that I was truly competitive on, and we cleaned up in local dressage shows. I only sold him because I really wanted to event and at the time, was between college and career and hadn’t a full time job to support a horse.
Ivan (the sometimes terrible) dressage and jumping
Foster (Oldenburg x Appendix gelding)
After Ivan sold, I of course landed a permanent position and almost immediately went on the hunt for another horse. It took months of obsessive searching, but when I first saw Foster online, I headed out that weekend to Maryland with checkbook in hand. I had been looking for a 5-7 year old with enough experience that I wouldn’t have to start from scratch again and Foster was a
supposedly 3 4 year old at the time. More importantly though, he had a fantastic brain and the build I was looking for in a horse (after years of drafts I wanted something super uphill!) and the match was made. If you’ve read this blog at all you probably know that we are currently competing at Training level dressage/Beginner Novice eventing and intend to move a level in each by the end of the year.