Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pony Profiles Part I: The (Actual) Ponies

So, a loooong time ago I was asked to give little bios on my horses. I realized that that was a totally awesome idea, and then of course completely forgot. Now, however many months later, I've finally remembered and decided to give it a whirl. So here is installment #1: The Ponies.

(Initial note: please excuse the very crappy photos-of-photos: my scanner is broken and so all I could provide were sketchy iPhone facsimiles)

Show Name: Pretty as Pink
Age: 1982
Breed: Welsh/Arab
Height: 14.2hh
Color: White Grey
Markings: Pink nose
Years We Were Together: 1996-1998

(Pinky at one of our first shows together - she stopped at every single jump in this round!)

Pinky was my very first pony and was the result of much, much begging from my parents. She was the epitome of a child's dream pony, snowy white with a dish face and lovely floaty gaits. We got her from this psycho hunter-jumper woman that, to this day, I still remember as one of the craziest horse people I've ever met (which is saying A LOT) and I still remember going to try her VIVIDLY because a) I forgot my riding pants and had to ride in regular pants wrapped with polo wraps (which for a little sticky seven year old was an incredibly bulky experience) and b) everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, that belonged to this pony was pink. Pink halter, pink leads, pink buckets, pink blankets, pink boots. I was never a huge pink girl, so this was more shocking than appealing, but it certainly left an impression.

Pinky was super well-trained and not only took me to my very first horse show but also won me my very first blue ribbon. Also like many first ponies, she was, it must be said, a little bit evil. She had quite a stop in her and I must have fallen off her every day for about a year. She also had a lovely habit of running away with me at the walk: she never was dangerous, but would simply turn and head back to the barn when she decided the ride was over, and there was nothing my puny little legs or arms could do about it. Ahh, ponies!

After me, Pinky went on to be my brother's first hunt horse, and then became a therapeutic riding horse up in Vermont. Last we heard she was still around, fully retired and enjoying the Vermont lifestyle. I'm thankful for Pinky for giving me a start in riding, giving me a start in competition, and, of course, giving me a healthy dose of perseverance after hitting the floor more times with her than I have with probably all my other horses combined!

Show Name: Tullymor's Lady Sequoia
Age: 1992
Breed: Connemara
Height: 13.2hh
Color: Flea-bitten Grey
Markings: none
Years we Were Together: 1998-1999

(Lady and my mom at a verry hot and humid Connemara show many years ago... even all these years later, I can't look at this picture and not have my fingers twitch to try to fix that crooked noseband!!)

Lady was probably a pretty badly matched horse for me, in retrospect. She was one of our broodmares from our little home-based Connemara breeding program, and I was desperately in love with her despite her being a totally green, bossy, alpha mare. I of course was totally green too, as I started with Lady when I was about 9, and we had plenty of "Green + Green = Black and Blue" moments (actually, our farm's colors are black and blue because, in those first few years, everyone in the family fell off so much!! Whoops). I didn't do much jumping on Lady but loved taking her for trail rides, barring the occasional episodes when she would take off and either buck me off (rare) or gallop with me all the way home (more frequent).

(Lady, whatever her shortcomings as a timid little girl's riding horse, was a great broodmare for our program. Here she is with my mom, me as a squirt, and one of her foals, Ky, who...)

(...is, of course, the very same Ky that I rode at the beach a few weeks ago! We've both gotten a little bigger since then =D)

Even though I loved her dearly, I came off of my time with Lady feeling pretty rattled. She was a super athlete and went on to be an awesome games/pony club pony (and could jump up to 3'9" easily!) with another girl, but for me she was just too much too soon, and I started having a lot of confidence issues at that time; I'd always been a pretty timid rider, and getting constantly dumped with Pinky and then feeling mostly out of control on Lady didn't do much to help things out. And that's when Jacob came along.

Show Name: Jacob
Age: 1969?? No except really. They told us he was "around 30" when he retired to our house, where he lived for 10 years before passing in 2009.
Breed: Unknown
Height: 12.2hh
Color: Bay
Markings: none, though as he got older his forehead greyed out.
Years we Were Together: 1999-2001, then retired at our house 2001-2009

(Jacob and I at Pipestave, where we were eliminated a few fences later because, it turned out, he wanted to stop and pee. Ahh, memories...)

When I was 10 years old, my parents sent me to horsey summer camp in Vermont, which to this day is one of my favorite memories. I was, by that point, no longer a little waifish 7 year old and was quickly on my way to become a fat and gawky preteen; I was supremely unathletic, socially awkward, and had, I will admit it, no friends at all. Plus, I'd had a totally scarring camp experience as an 8 year old where I'd gone to this uniform-based camp in Maine where you had to wear swim caps and spend all day purposefully pursuing things like lap swimming and jogging when all I wanted to do was hang out in the pottery shed and dance class. Camp Catherine Capers was super funky, its buildings more of a conglomeration of shacks than anything else, and the people there were friendly and-- for the first time in my life-- a lot like me. I made my first friends there, got into a modicum of shape there (thanks largely to the fact that the "Capers" in the name of the camp was the actual euphemism used for the chores they made us do three times a day in addition to opening and closing the barn every morning and night), and-- the best part-- got to spend pretty much every day either thinking about or actually with horses. It was my version of heaven.

And, the very first pony I led up to the pasture on the very first day of my first year of camp was a small, completely unremarkable little pony named Jacob. I was smitten from the first moment, and every day after that begged to be the one to help take care of him and ride him. He was a tricky pony that I would later learn had broken a girl's back the summer before (no one chose to mention this before I fell in love with him!) and was notorious for taking off with people in lessons. For some totally mysterious reason, however, (and I will not claim for a moment that it was my riding) he never did any of this stuff with me. We just got along like peas and carrots, right from the start. At the end of the summer, I begged the camp and my parents to let him come spend the winter at our house, and somehow, miraculously, they all agreed.

For the first time ever, I had a pony that I could do anything and everything I wanted to do with. I wasn't much of a jumping fan at this time, but Jacob took me to my first ever Pony Club D Rally, where we went around the 12" section and walked the ENTIRE WAY. Just as I wanted =). We went on endless trail rides, often without saddles or appropriate attire (shorts and flip flops being pretty common), and he only dumped me or scraped me off on trees a fractional amount compared to the number of prime opportunities he was given. Whatta pony! He was notoriously hard to catch, and taught me more patience in that alone than probably any other horse I've had (which now comes back to help me with Ringo!!). He wasn't warm or cuddly, and would just as often pin his ears when I walked up to him as nicker, and he once kicked me so hard in the back of the leg that I couldn't walk, but he was utterly perfect.

I cried and cried and cried when I realized I was quickly outgrowing Jacob. We very reluctantly gave him back to camp, where I watched over him for a few years as I came back each summer. Then, when it came time to retire Jacob, we got a call from the folks at CCC. It turned out that I was the only girl who had ever asked to take Jacob home (this was when the "back breaker" story came out), and so they were wondering if my family could retire him at our house. I was so happy!! So Jacob came back to live at Black Brook Farm, where he lived for many happy years. Up until the last, I was the only one who could always catch him and he still sometimes liked to remind me of the true futility of my power by running circles around me for several minutes out in the field.

I was very, very sad when Jacob passed last spring, even though I knew he had lived as long and full a life as anyone could have hoped for. He was the first horse I ever felt like I had a special, unique bond with that no one else in the world could understand or share, and I've never forgotten that feeling. Now, with every horse I come in contact with, I try to honor and love them as much as I did for Jacob, in the hope that I can earn their trust and friendship the way I did his. We may not have won many ribbons together or turned many heads (except at the oddity of a husky 5'4" girl riding a 12 hand pony), but I honestly don't think I'd be riding today without him, and for that I'm so eternally thankful.

(I never really rode Lulu, who was another of our broodmares, but I still like looking at this picture and thinking, "What happened??? I Was so cute back then!!" Also, do you notice a certain uncanny resemblance between Lulu and Kiki? That is no coincidence...)


Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

what adorable ponies and great photos! I die for Jacob!!!!

Gingham said...

Love the pony roster :) seems like you've had a great collection. and you look like a mini Julianne Moore in that last pic!!

Alana said...

yay! I was the one that asked for a list of the ponies, and was beginning to think it wasn't going to happen lol!
You have had quite the lovely collection! Looking forward to the rest!

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