Sims is not the biggest yearling in Texas!


If I had a dollar for every time I have uttered that my baby (soon to be one year old) Sims was a big colt, I might be able to take a cruise out of Galveston.   Not rich, but better off.

And for you all, you would probably be way less bored if I had not mentioned the colt as much as I had.  But…anyway let’s say I was intrigued to learn a friend of mine said on Facebook that she was celebrating her yearling’s birthday and that he was almost 16 hands.  Whoa!! That got my attention.  Due to the short nature of most of my horses, this yearling Maria had, was taller than any horse in my barn, except my mare Nova.

I had to see this for myself. I wasn’t sure anyone else could accurately measure a horse but me.  A 16 hand yearling-that was not a major draft breed (for you non-horse people think not a Budweiser Clydesdale or like) was almost unsettling. This horse of Maria’s was German warmblood, American thoroughbred and Shire (which is a draft breed but only a small percentage incomparison to the other bloodlines).  

My Sims is big.  He will be 11 months in a couple of days. He is almost 15.1 hands high at the hip.  He will probably be a 17 hand horse which if you ever have seen a five foot man versus a seven foot man, run hurdles, you get the advantage Sims will have over a smaller horse. Sims should have the legs to jump. 


I met Maria maybe ten years ago at a schooling show I was working and she was showing her eventer.  She is a tall, beautiful Danish women.  Maria embodies a strong equestrian flair to her life and style. Maria and I have friends in common, but our biggest link is breeder Stephanie Wendorf from whom Maria has leased mares and produced amazing babies.  Stephanie, being the same breeder that brought me Betty Sue and Fargo,  now through Fargo -Sims, and soon a baby to be born in Colorado, from jumper Flexible.


I decided to buy a bit for Betty Sue from one Maria had for sale and headed over to her nearby home with Lauren.  I was checking out this baby for myself.  I even made sure we could see the babies while we were there.



Mini pony hanging Moses

new baby

New baby hanging with the big guy. 

Okay, hands down, biggest Sporthorse yearling I had ever seen and NO question that he was way bigger than Sims.  Even given their two months or so difference in age.

Meet, Mohican DF, by Mitril out of Mirage by Hideway Pond William, affectionately  known as Moses.  He is buckskin with three white socks.  Moses is goofy, unaware of his size, far more coordinated than he should be and so loving. 

Side by side comparison:

Moses:  15.3 hh at withers and about 16.1 at his butt at 14 months

Sims:  14.3 hh at his withers and about 15.1 at his butt at 11 months

 I told Maria early on in our discussion that this story might surface someone interested in buying this amazing animal.  Maria, who I have to say often sells all kinds of things, did not even entertain me, she just said no.  This is her horse of a lifetime.


Mohican DF at approximately four months, cleaned up for his inspection


Maria is good friends with Megan, our lady who owned the pregnant donkey (that had the super cute baby) (wouldn’t you want to be known as the pregnant donkey mom?).  Anyway, Megan had an enormous warmblood named Maximus.  Moses is actually the nephew of Maximus.  Maximus topped out at 18 hands and a solid 1800 pounds.  Again, for a rule of thumb, my Bruno was a big guy (many photos on this blog will attest to his size) but he was 17.1 and 1450 pounds.

A fun comparison of the uncle and nephew at the same age are startling similar.

max mos

Uncle Maximus on the top with nephew Moses on the bottom. Age maybe two months-talk about big bone with size!


Part of what was captivating about this yearling (I have to keep saying that as it is so amazing) was just his bone size.  His front legs are long, straight and like tree trunks firmly planted with deep roots.

The other thing is just his attitude.  One friend had a show mare named “Attitude is Everything”.  This guy is so willing, so friendly and so interested that he will go far.  I will not say he has a a better attitude than Sims (got to keep some advantage) but they both have that asset. In the pictures above you can see how cares little about if he is faced with a new foal or a mini pony.

I asked Maria to get some shots of herself with her boy, Moses.  I love the results.  Like all good equestrians, Maria, was already in her pjs before the sun went down but was happy to head back out to the barn for a little photo shoot with her main man (is a one year old a man?).  That could be a whole different blog.  In the meantime, congrats Maria on your fine, young guy. May he be all you hope him to be!

And I will shut up (at least until Sims next birthday) about my big boy as he clearly is not the big man of Texas or even Richmond, Texas.  Move over Sims, Moses is the king!



w mar

w mar1

Maria is 5’10” folks!  And I love this picture!

Riding a horse/Driving a Car (same thing, right?)



For awhile, there was a popular poster that said that everything a person needed to learn they should have learned in kindergarten.  It actually made a lot of sense.  And I posted a blog from another mother about how her daughter has learned an infinite amount from having, showing and being responsible for horses.

This is right along those same lines, dreamed up by me in those early hours before dawn when I just don’t seem to sleep well.  See what happens, you get stuck with my ramblings.

This is my analogy- everything we need to learn to drive a car we learn riding and showing hunters and jumpers (probably other disciplines apply but I am going to stick with what I know best). Alex, whom I have known since she was maybe six or seven, got her license recently.  I started thinking about the similarities between her equestrian experiences and her driving a car.  This is what I came up with:

What Riding a Horse Driving a Car
Position head up, shoulders back, eyes forward, hands quiet head up, shoulders back, eyes forward, hands at ten and two
Basic strategy when faced by other riders/drivers Always Pass another riding approaching from the other direction in the ring- left shoulder to left shoulder. In 90 percent of the world traffic stays to the right, with drivers passing each other left shoulder to left shoulder (on a basic two-way street)
Stop means stop Any trainer worth their dime will tell you that “whoa means whoa” . It means stop.  Now.  Not slow down and not maybe. A stop sign means stop. It doesn’t mean sort of touch of the brakes.  It does not mean roll on through.  Stop means stop.
Look where you are going If you are not looking where you are wanting to go, the horse will go where you are looking or you will. As in, if you look down, you will fall down.  If look over and beyond the jump, you will clear it with ease. You must look ahead and anticipate traffic issues, dogs running out in the streets, balls rolling in the streets with babies following them (didn’t you watch that video?) and not down at your phone or over at your friend.
Anticipate issues, i.e. with weather, with footing, with clowns popping up, with wind, with stupid other people Any rider that has ridden in a group setting (arena, trail ride, warm up ring) knows a horse can spook at anything from a plastic bag to the blowing wind. Likewise other riders create issues by not riding as they should-too fast, too slow, too stupid and you must be ever vigilant to avoid them. Weather brings a whole neither set of issues, slidding in the mud, your horse knocking you out of saddle as he coughs up dry dust, snow filling your horse’s hooves so he can’t walk or heat knocking your well developed sport horse into a glub of sweat. You are never safe-anticipate issues. Any driver on the road knows cars can act up at any time, sputtering to a stop in the middle of the highway or suddenly losing your power steering. Other drivers make it worse as they drive too fast, too slow or too stupid.  And weather, well, what about the first time you drive on ice or in snow or down a muddy dirt road.  It is a whole new ballgame.  Heat knocks your radiator and cold temps can freeze your engine block.  You are never safe-anticipate issues.
Practice makes you a better rider/driver Remember the first time you got on a horse? It did not go so well.  You could no more canter a course with the right number of strides than ride standing on your head.  It took time.  And practice. And more practice.  In fact good equestrians never quit learning.  There is a message here. Remember the first time you got behind the wheel?   That did not go well either. Navigating through the Galleria or International Airport was way past your abilities.  So, keep practicing and keep learning and never stop looking over your shoulder!


I could go on here, but you get the point.  I acknowledge and support practice of both riding and driving.  But I also think Alex had a leg-up (pun intended) on her non-riding sister and friends.


Looking forward to a great weekend ahead with Amber and kids here from Denver.  Be on the lookout for fun times and great pictures.  And thanks for riding along.

Mustang Love

Kit and Isabel

Kit and Isabel

Kit, our newest boarder at Six Meadow Farm, has come a huge distance and yet in other ways has just moved down the road.  Originally from some of the remaining wild horses in Oregon, Kit somehow made her way thousands of miles south to come to live on my neighbor’s property.

Some years and bad times, brought Kit to her next turn in the road which was my farm right down the street. Horse lover Isabel made the decision with her family to aid and abet this little mustang mare who was seized by the sheriff’s office, then bound for the kill buyer, a crowded painful ride to Mexico and a brutal end in the unregulated slaughter house to be processed into meat.

As my father always told me when I wanted to buy this horse or that horse, that it was not the price of the horse itself (at least back when he and I were buying horses) but the cost to keep it, care for it and provide for it for all the years to come.  In the case of Isabel and Kit, there was no price to buy this horse.  Our Pultar Road neighbors went out to the auction and waited most of the day to get this Mustang and a Quarter horse pony out of harm’s way, bidding back to back with kill buyer until the little horses were not worth their weight in meat (literally).  Our neighbors brought them home to us.

Isabel had done her research on how much the keeping and nurturing of the horse would cost her over a year’s time.  But like most new horse owners, the minute Kit got off the trailer at our farm, one could almost visualize the bills starting to mount up.  First, as Isabel assessed her, she saw a lot of scrapes and cuts.  The sheriff had gotten the horses to auction too late to be auctioned with the horses and they were sent down the shoots with the frightened cattle.  Our pony held up pretty well but Kit was a mess of torn flesh including a gash on her back leg.

Kit’s feet were in bad shape as well.  By Saturday the farrier arrived to help out Kit, but declined to work on her as he was concerned about her cut leg and the fever he felt sure was racing through her bloodstream.  Nothing about this was good news to Isabel and her parents.  Meanwhile, our pony Jete’ was starting to shine like a new penny, having her feet trimmed up and we were discussing who was going to ride her first. The comparison between to the two rescues had to make it even harder for Isabel to understand what in the world she had been thinking when she signed up to rescue the Mustang.

To add a little more insult to injury, Isabel was now our employee, cleaning stalls, hauling feed and water and sweating, a lot.  Most suburban teenagers do not have what it takes physically to knock out 14 stalls in 95 degree heat.  But Isabel stuck with it. It was one more way to pay her Mustang’s board bill.

Our pony went off with saddle, bridle and rider into the arena like they had just stepped into the show ring.  While there were a few mistakes, the pony clearly knew what to do and had been well-trained.

Meanwhile, Isabel followed up with vet to learn there was no temperature, the leg would heal fine but oh, boy did this girl’s teeth need some work!  For those of you old enough to remember there used to be a series of books about a girl named Pippi Longstocking.  Pippi could pick up a horse in one hand.  She was super strong.  I often think of our vet Lynn as the Pippi Longstocking of vets. As a female in the large animal industry, it has helped Lynn to smart, fast, lean and strong.  Most horses are no match for her technique but this Mustang, was not letting anyone look at her teeth.  A little medication later, the teeth were taken care of, but Lynn urged Isabel’s mom to get some PROFESSIONAL training help as her daughter could be hurt.  More money out the door and it sounded like more was going to be spent.

Meanwhile, our pony was on perfect ride number two over in the arena.  I attempted to help Isabel with the bridling issue only to learn this Mustang mare was not planning on opening her mouth for me any more than she was for anyone else.  I gave it a good try-but Kit won.

We started talking about alternatives to traditional bridles like hackamores or bosals.  I think Isabel was just watching money run out of her wallet.  Originally, her plan had been to do some fund raising both at her school and on-line.  Money was just trickeling in for the mare and her care.

But I did see them make progress.  The first days, the water hose sent Kit to outer-space but by this weekend she was quietly standing in the wash rack while the water ran full force.  She had become quieter and easier to handle each day as well.  In the dark before dawn as I brought the horses in to eat, I would put my pony away first.  Kit stood calmly in the hallway until I was ready to walk her back to her food.  The terror in her calls to our pony, Jete’ , the moment the pony disappeared from sight, reduced and started to cease as Kit became part of the mare’s pasture.

I also think that it helped immensely for Caroline and Arianna to come by with pictures and stories of their Mustang, Ellie Mae, that many of you have seen on the show circuit.  She is a glossy, beautiful mare who has won many blue ribbons in the ring.  But Caroline showed Isabel pictures of Ellie Mae as she had arrived, skinny, banged up and looking nothing like the adorable mount she is now.

This weekend I put together a hackamore (it works without a bit by putting pressure on the nose of the horse) for Isabel to try on Kit.  As her father stood looking a bit concerned I urged Isabel to go ahead and saddle up Kit.  We would go take a test ride.  I had seen nothing in this horse to indicate she would be crazy or spooky as long as we left her teeth alone.  Isabel eagerly agreed and we headed off to the arena.

As I stood closely by and Hugh ran video on his phone, Isabel mounted the Mustang for what was probably the first time in at least five years. The little mare accepted Isabel on her back and walked quietly around the pen.  It was a big first for the two of them.

Lauren on Jete" and Isabel on Kit for the first time.

Lauren on Jete” and Isabel on Kit for the first time.

Last night both Lauren and Isabel saddled their ponies and they took their first ride out in the big arena.  It was a pretty fine moment.

Isabel has set up a “Go Fund Me” to help her offset the costs (and the continuing costs) of supporting her rescued Mustang.  I know we have all been asked to support this and that cause and we probably could use money for our own horses. I have not used this blog as a fund rising vehicle in the past.  But something about the determination of this 15 year-old girl to help save this Mustang has made me respect her grit, strength and vision.  When she first heard about this mare in need she set out to devise a plan to help.  I would ask you to help her help the Mustang.  Let’s watch this mare blossom!

As always, thanks for riding along!  Send a dollar or ten if you can!





Inspiration-by Jo Ann (sounds like a line of greeting cards)

Jo Ann and Mickey- a pretty good lookin' pair.

Jo Ann and Mickey- a pretty good lookin’ pair.

I met Jo Ann when about five years ago when Jordyn was two. I had gotten talked into helping out announcing at a horse show and if I did, they would find little Jordyn a horse to ride in the leadline class. So one of Jordyn’s first horse show experiences was with Jo Ann’s then  27 year old, black, OTTB named Hershey.  He was perfect for her.

Later when Jo Ann was looking for a place to board her old man, Hershey (then 31) and her superstar Quest, our vet Lynn, recommended our place to Jo Ann.  It has been a good fit.  Due to a series of adventures, good and bad, Jo Ann has been left without a regular horse to ride, Hershey was saddly too old and Quest moved on to greener pastures.  She came back to riding dressage with Nancy Lindsey and my go-to pony, Snowboy.

Not to give out state secrets, but Jo Ann is older than I am by a few years.  And we all know I am really old.  Jo Ann and I have had some serious run-ins with medical professionals but while mine have been orthopedic hers have been some fairly critical medical issues.  In fact it seems a little more than a month ago Jo Ann had some pretty important surgery.

I am a fairly competitive person.  That may be an understatement.  I used to be a competitive horsewoman and spent my childhood in lessons and shows.  By the time I started college, I was pretty done with all that.  I rode because I enjoyed riding.  I did some shows off and on through the years but usually to prove I could or to help Ally or Lauren out by riding their show horse prior to them riding.

I have been watching Jo Ann as she has continued to ride, in spite of not having a horse right now, in spite of the heat, in spite of her medical issues and had a little “A HA” moment.  Jo Ann has worked her way up to riding Lauren’s jumper, Mickey.  There is something dynamic and exciting about watching this cow-bred Paint, excel at something else he was not bred to do.  He was never bred to jump and he has soared.  He was never bred to bend and float and now Jo Ann has him doing dressage.  What a special guy he is!

I have been riding my new horse Nova pretty consistently and wanted to take a lesson with Dev once I got her going pretty well.  Of course, part of it was me-the getting going part.  Coming back from the hip replacement surgery and my nine other orthopedic surgeries in this decade have made my muscle tone and strength not what they were. So, that was a good excuse as well.  I had told Dev that I would do a lesson this last weekend, but wouldn’t you know it-Nova came up lame.  Reason enough to put that off until she was better.



But watching Jo Ann on Friday night, Competitive Cindy (that is like Malibu Barbie), said to herself, “You know I could do this!  This lesson thing-I could be open to criticism, praise and getting to be a better rider.  I could do it!”

Mickey and I doing just fine.

Mickey and I doing just fine.

Sunday, for the first time in 40 years, seriously, 40 years, I took a horseback riding lesson.  And I did just fine.  And I did it on Mickey.  Who did his best for me (at least mostly).  So, what is the big deal?  For 40 years, I have been content to listen to other riders, to read books and articles about riding, to watch clinicians and videos but I have not be willing to put myself out there where the focus as direct and on me-specifically.

Canter, please.

Canter, please.

I had watched my friend Jo Ann take lessons.  Honestly, at first I really thought she probably couldn’t ride that well, I mean she was old like me.  But then I watched her turn in better and better rides on a variety horses and I had learned that if I wanted to get better and get serious, I had to learn more.

We never quit learning or getting better.  Sometimes we have to be brave enough to face the criticism that may occur when we step out into something new.  I did not even get criticized during my lesson (George Morris was not available for a crtique).  Instead I got nice words about my position and quiet hands along with suggestions for doing things even better.

And to you- Jo Ann-Thank you for the inspiration.  You will see in these videos what a lovely rider you are.  Bravo to you, for hanging on and moving forward.  I believe you showed these kids around here a few things as well.

As John Wayne reportedly said, “Courage is being scared to death and climbing up into the saddle anyway”.  I am glad I climbed up in the saddle again to learn.

As always thanks for riding along!

Lauren and I taking a lesson together-first time ever.  She is on Owen.

Lauren and I taking a lesson together-first time ever. She is on Owen.

Craigslist OTTB rakes in high-level ribbons

Borrowed with permission from Off the Track Thoroughbreds-

I understand the actual video of Trapp riding in the race saddle over the crudely constructed jumps was something to behold. The owner expected him to fall off this little mare, but she just went willingly along. Feather and Lauren, no doubt, will encounter Cait and Lulu as they make their way up the ranks. Thanks Susan for a great story!

By Susan Salk on June 3, 2015

World Cup rider Trapp O’Neal found Au Girl on Craigslist. Now she’s in the ribbons for owner/rider Caitlyn Epperson. Alison Harwell Photography

World Cup rider Trapp O’Neal found Au Girl on Craigslist. Now she’s in the ribbons for owner/rider Caitlyn Epperson. Alison Harwell Photography


Leading Grand Prix rider and coach Trapp O’Neal was out shopping for a flatbed trailer one lazy afternoon in August when he discovered in the dirt and dust of a modest Texas farm a gem of a Thoroughbred with the makings of an A-rated sport horse.

Though Au Girl lived in circumstances that lacked a standard ring to stretch her legs or pretty jumps to display her form, she went along quite willingly and smartly for O’Neal, who rode her in her jockey’s saddle over jumps made of orange cones and lumber. The bay mare just seemed a natural for the job.

“As a Grand Prix rider and coach, it’s never been typical for me to chose Thoroughbreds to work with. But as a horseman, I’ve learned to keep my eyes open. I don’t think you can be too prejudice as to what shape, size and breeds the talent comes in,” O’Neal says. “And when I tried Au Girl I knew I couldn’t pass up talent.”

O’Neal purchased the ex-race mare in August 2013 and took her home to his Magnolia, Texas facility TKO Sporthorses, where the green mare quickly proved herself as worthy as the fancy show horses in the barn.

Au Girl
Barn name: Lulu
Sire: Formal Gold
Dam: San Miguel Queen
Foal date: April 23, 2009

Whip-smart and scopey, she trained for about a year before Trapp sold her to his longtime student Caitlyn Epperson, 20, who formed an instant connection with the mare. “The minute she sat on her, they just clicked,” says Caitlyn’s mother Kathryn Epperson. She adds, “They are a great team. They’ve already earned numerous grand championships and reserve championships … this mare just has a spirit like she’s in it to win it, and yet, she’s also very sweet.”

The pair has excelled at the TAKE 2 Thoroughbred Division at the lower heights, but has also ribboned at the High Adult Jumper Division as well. Her awards include: Low Adult Jumper Champion (1.0 – 1.05 meter) Dallas Harvest in October 2014; High Adult Jumper Reserve Champion (1.10 – 1.15 meter) Great Southwest Winter Classic IV in February 2015; TAKE 2 Thoroughbred Jumpers Reserve Champion (1.0 meter) Pin Oak Charity Horse Show in March 2015; TAKE 2 Thoroughbred Jumpers Champion Show Jumping Classic in May 2015.


Au Girl takes a nap after winning Grand Champion in the Take 2 Jumpers at the Show Jumping Classic in May

Au Girl is ranked 9th in the National TAKE 2 Thoroughbred Jumper standings and 7th in the USHJA Zone 7 TAKE 2 Thoroughbred Jumper standings through April 2015.

But more than earning ribbons there is the deep satisfaction that comes from bringing along a green OTTB to compete at the highest levels.

“In this area you don’t see a lot of Thoroughbreds competing at this level. A lot of trainers just want the Warmbloods. Trapp was one of the first trainers in our area to step out and try a Thoroughbred, and now that people see her, other people have started to show an interest in them,” she says. “This horse is just a trooper. I don’t care how tired she is, or if she’s been at a show for three weeks, she’s going to give 110 percent every time.

“And she moves, very, very well. And she was a fraction of the cost of the other horses in her division. She was a true diamond in the rough.”

The little things

Horse photos courtesy of Isabel Johnson

The race is on and Kona is doing his best to keep up with Betty Sue and Piper.

The race is on and Kona is doing his best to keep up with Betty Sue and Piper.

Maui running with Piper Pony.

Maui running with Piper Pony.

We have now had several consecutive days without rain.  As you can see, the horses (and the dog) are even turning up a little dust in the arena.  That is grounds enough for a little celebration.  I am getting through this first anniversary of my mother’s birthday without my mother with a few tears but a lot of happy thoughts and memories.

Last night, we took the girls down to play in the arena.  The last time I did this, Feather wanted to come, too.  She pulled back from where she was tied at the barn and ended up with a face full of stitches.  This time we left Feather in her stall, the fan running, oblivious to her friends having fun without her.  It was amazing to see, now a little over a year old, Betty Sue, romp around.  I swear she has the prettiest trot I have ever seen.  Of course, I didn’t get a picture of that-she was too busy running!

Kona and puppy, Maui Jim, were all keyed up for play time as well.  You will note fewer pictures of Maui.  He tuckered out way before the horses and Kona did.

I love the white streak in her man and that her tail has the white tip at the end.

I love the white streak in her mane and that her tail has the white tip at the end.

Back in my day we would have said, "Kona is really booking it," here.

Back in my day we would have said, “Kona is really booking it,” here.


The dogs went off to a new groomer today.  This is Maui Jim’s first official hair cut. Lauren told the groomer to make him look like Kona.  What do you think?

Maui Jim is a skinny puppy but OMG look at those feet!! He is going to be bigger than his brother!

Maui Jim is a skinny puppy but OMG look at those feet!! He is going to be bigger than his brother!

This was a new groomer who specializes in poodles and it showed in the great job they did.  Oh, it is the little things for me!

Happy boys, headed home.

Happy boys, headed home.

The farm is pretty much dried out with grass and the flowers growing like crazy.  I have lots to do this weekend with Lauren’s impromptu working student summer starting on Monday with the arrival of Mia from Malaysia.  We have worked out some great educational seminars for the girls including working with the farrier, learning basic first aid and how to build a horse first aid kit with the vet, a session on learning to pick horses for the Grand Prix and being a successful trainer in the horse business from some local hot shots.

Jordyn and Riley finished second grade and kindergarten respectively and are looking forward to a summer of fun.  Jordyn is headed off for a week of horse camp with Holly Flint and Snowboy! In fact, I am hoping to get them on the lunge line tomorrow for Jordyn’s first canter “on-purpose”.  Big times!

Lots to do, lots to see, lots to accomplish.  Hoping you are taking a moment to appreciate the little things.  They are really what life is about.  Thanks for riding along!

Pin Oak Wrap-up

The first jump in the Classic at Pin Oak.

The first jump in the Classic at Pin Oak.

After our thrills of last week, this second week of Pin Oak brought some adjustments and lessons to my daughter and her silver streak of a horse.

Lauren in her show whites with her number and Irish Sport Horse emblem pad with Feather's name.

Lauren in her show whites with her number and Irish Sport Horse emblem pad with Feather’s name.

Wednesday found Lauren and Feather back in the ring trying out some new heights for them, jumping 1.05 and 1.10 meters.  It was the first time for Lauren and Feather to tackle the 1.10 meters in competition.  It was pretty amazing.  Feather went in the ring like it was nothing new and jumped around clean and fast.  In fact, she was in first place until the second to last rider who beat her by less than one second out of a large field.

Friday found the team learning some lessons about how tight is too tight to make a turn and how best the mare approaches a jump.  There were no ribbons Friday or Saturday.  But there was a time, just recently, that we would have never expected to get a ribbon at Pin Oak so maybe we got a little spoiled with our riches in Week 1.

Both Lauren and young Feather are new to competitions of this size and working against horses of this stature.  They needed to pay some dues and learn from their mistakes.  Sunday they went back in the ring for a pretty solid ride to a seventh place finish in the Low Adults.  They were invited, based upon their previous week’s performance, to the $10,000 Classic.  That is a lot of money.  But Lauren pulled the first position in the go and headed out first to conquer a new ring and huge, solid jumps.  Feather stopped at the very first jump.  Lauren brought her around and she jumped everything from there with a final downed rail on the last jump.  Her share of the $10,000 was as the 12th place finisher not as the winner (AJ de Leyer was second).

Feather galloping off

Feather galloping off

But it was a wonderful couple weeks for duo and I know it will be fond memories for us for some time.  What we know for sure is that we have a mare that can take on the best and hold her own.  She definitely is part of the league of winners now.

The scoreboard with Flagmount's Irish Freedom (or as much of it as would fit)  and a look at Pin Oak arena filled with jumps.  It was not for the faint of heart.

The scoreboard with Flagmount’s Irish Freedom (or as much of it as would fit) and a look at Pin Oak arena filled with jumps. It was not for the faint of heart.

Thanks for riding along!

Glad Tidings

Waiting for results after the third class in Lauren's jumper division.

Waiting for results after the third class in Lauren’s jumper division.

You can go back in my blog to March of any year and there will be a discussion about the big Texas Charity Horse Show called Pin Oak that takes place each as a benefit for Texas Children’s Hospital.  In the blog I may talk about Jordyn riding Leadline (a pretty exciting time), or Mickey competing over fences but except for Jordyn (and honestly that is pretty much a gimme, as my dad would have said), none of my family or my horses have ever won a ribbon at this big show.

Certainly, this was the year to try as Lauren came back from her fractured arm to win the USEF Zone Finals in November.  Feather was jumping well and this would be our last time to compete at this height (1.00 and 1.05 meters) before moving up to bigger jumps.  Lauren was still suffering the ill effects of her injury with only partial use of her hand.  But she had learned to compensate pretty well.

The major division for them was the Adult Amateur Low Jumpers.  It consisted of a class Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Friday Lauren had been jumping well prior to this class but Feather was jumping hard and Lauren lost her reins over one of the big oxers.  For some reason, Lauren did not want to trust Feather to make it through the triple line of jumps with no guidance from her.  I know, you would have done it!

The placings of the classes are cumulative and it is hard to be competitive if you do not place at all on one of three days.  Satuday amidst horrendous rain showers I got to watch Lauren and Feather smoothly, quietly and without fuss burn their opponents to win that round.  But one thing was missing.  You may have heard my appreciation of the de Leyer family starting way back with Harry and his national champion Snowman (there is a Breyer of this) to his current family here in Houston that brings the horse and rider to beat to any competition they join.  AJ de Leyer was absent from the ring on Saturday.  He had won the round on Friday where Lauren had not placed.  We knew he was the man to beat if Lauren wanted to walk away with the Grand Championship.

Due to USEF rules, it had been a while since AJ and Lauren had competed against one another.  AJ, younger than Lauren by a few years, had not moved up to the adult division.  But he was here now and with a horse that had won multiple Pin Oak and Zone Final championships.  If Feather was going to win Grand she was going to have to be moving and jumping fast!

As I sat with a friend, as rider after rider went through the course, she asked where Lauren was in the rotation.  I knew she was close to the end.  “Where is AJ?”  After Lauren I answered.  That would give the benefit to AJ as he would already know if Lauren had gone clean and what her time was.  If AJ went before Lauren, if he knocked poles, Lauren could just take it easy and go clean and still win-not having to push the speed.

My friend figured that AJ and Lauren were tied going into this final round.  The only rider that could beat them for grand champ had a disappointing ride and the tie held as Lauren and Feather headed boldly in ring.  In this particular round, the rider had one course of 12 jumps which they needed to jump clean and within the time limit to head into the jump off.  Lauren went blazing past the timer and I held my breath.  Leap, turn, run, leap, turn, run, they took on the course aggressively.  A little too agressively I thought as I prayed they did not pull any rails.  But they came clear through the round and onto the jump off intact.

As a frame of reference, Mickey and Alex competing in the children’s division over the same course, finished in 60 seconds, Feather and Lauren tagged in at 63 seconds and some change.  I told you Mickey was faster!

It was on to the jump off which was a maybe seven jumps and meant to be all holds bared.  The tighter the turns, the faster the recovery onto the next jump and the faster the speed between jumps would lead to the winner.  And also to the almost winner, if they pulled down any rails in their hurry to win.

Lauren was disappointed that she missed one turn that she had planned but still came in with the second fastest time.  And NO rails down at all!

AJ and his horse Skylark came blazing into the ring.  AJ is the son of a son of a top horseman.  He and his dad had every inch of the course planned.  As AJ flew over the fences in front of us, he was talking out loud to his horse, “get the six, get the six” (as in six strides) then as he hit the tight in-and-out we could him say “whoa, here,whoa, here”. He rode it beautifully.  I don’t remember looking at his time.  All that mattered was he was clean and off to the jump off.

Skylark gave AJ all he had as AJ urged him faster and faster with tighter and tighter turns.  Unfortunately, they pulled a couple of rails.  This left Lauren in second place for the class with AJ pulling a fourth place finish.

Suddenly, I looked at my friend, tears were streaming from her eyes.  “Lauren just won Grand Champion! No one deserves it more!”  Well, I don’t know about that, I am sure there are others that deserve a big day in their life but Lauren has had a long career with rescue horses, the horses people just were not sure what to do with and she has worked hard to make her way.  Especially this last year has been a tough one.  But Pin Oak Grand Champion-yes, it was something sweet enough to bring tears to your eyes.  We couldn’t even win a ribbon before and now  Feather had ribbons, and plates, and platers and pictures in the winner’s circle.

It was sweet, indeed.  Thank you to all of you who have ridden along with us!

I am holding the Tiffany winner's plater, trainer Dev is next and Lauren with mighty Feather.

I am holding the Tiffany winner’s plater, trainer Dev is next and Lauren with mighty Feather.

Cody reenacts Mother Goose Tale

A gate does not do well when sat upon by a horse.

A gate does not do well when sat upon by a horse.

As I came down the drive last night, I spotted the horses from pasture-one talking to the horses from pasture-two.  Then as I looked closer, I realized they were really gathered around the gate like a bunch of rubber-neckers watching a car wreck.  This particular car wreck involved Quarter horse Cody and he was literally sitting on the gate.

So, picture this-the gate above bent forward into the pasture with the 1,000 pound Cody, sitting on his butt, body upright on the gate.  He looked a great deal like Humpty Dumpty sitting on the wall (before his great fall). Especially with all the horses gathered around like excited town folk.

Cody's big torso and proportionately spindly legs, looked just like this as he sat wedged in the gate.

Cody’s big torso and proportionately spindly legs, looked just like this as he sat wedged in the gate.

I apologize for not getting a picture of that striking pose but I ripped on up the drive to the house, where Lauren was just sauntering out to make night feed.  I whipped out of the car (to the extent my body enhanced with metal parts can whip out of my tiny clown car) and yelled that Cody was stuck in the fence!  Lauren did not really get concerned until she rounded the corner and saw the spectacle herself.  She screamed for me to get Blake and started running to the pasture.

I rushed in the house, yelled at Blake, “a horse is stuck in the gate” , shoved my rubber boots on and headed back out.  All the time I was reviewing my tool options for something that would cut the horse out of the fence.  I wasn’t coming up with anything.

In Wharton, when our filly Mariah was two, she got her hoof stuck in the wire of the fence.  The slender wire caught between her horse shoe and her foot.  It was a dreadful time as Lauren and I screamed at passersby on the road to stop and help.  I vowed to always have good wire cutters in the future.  And I did but no wire cutters were going to cut through a metal pipe gate.  I looked at the saw in the garage and then ran for my phone.

I called our dressage trainer neighbor as I thought perhaps she might have something to help us out.  I left quite an impassioned message as I got her voice mail.  “Help, we have a horse stuck in the metal gate! Please call me right back!”

As I haphazardly trotted over to the fence, I saw the situation had already changed.  Perhaps Cody had been content to sit on the gate and Lord over the minions in the pastures around him but when Lauren and Blake got down there, he just hopped off on his own.  He trotted off to the bottom of the pasture and returned to look at the gate in surprise, as if saying, “Whoa, did I do that?”

Cody is the one in the middle looking directly at the gate.

Cody is the one in the middle looking directly at the gate.

Amazingly Cody only had a small, narrow two-inch scratch on his hind leg and trotted off sound after his amazing adventure.  In thinking about how this occurred in the first place, I believe that Cody and giant horse Kinny were playing over the top of the gate.  They seem to be a little obsessed with one another and spend hours together walking the fence line from their opposite sides of the pasture.  I think they got to wrestling and Cody turned his hind end to buck out at Kinny.  Those of you that have seen Cody jump know he is famous for his mighty kicks after a jump (not that it deters him from winning!).  Anyway, I think he bucked up and out and came down on top of the gate, folding it like an accordion underneath him.  I think he was lodged in the fence.  I give him props for not panicking and struggling to get loose.

I took Cody up to the barn (after I chased him around for 20 minutes trying to catch him, he was clearly invigorated by his narrow escape from certain death).  I hosed down his legs.  Jo Ann and I inspected them for damage. You could tell he was getting a little stiff as the evening set in.

All and all, he looked pretty great, no swelling, no cuts except the small scratch, and no serious injury from his sit on the wall.  I didn’t realize until later that I never called my neighbor back, I kept expecting her to race down the drive with a giant blow torch to get the horse out of the gate.

The big heroes of the night were Luke and Ally who came after work to replace the gate with a new one before today when the horses went out to pasture again.  Lauren had been off to the Rodeo to celebrate her birthday.   She was pretty surprised this morning to find a brand new gate installed and the old one creating a metal sculpture along the road.

Thanks for riding along.


Sunday Funday

All photos today courtesy of Arianna Arney-many thanks!

A bunch of us gathered around the arena on a beautiful Sunday.

A bunch of us gathered around the arena on a beautiful Sunday.


More often than not, Lauren is gone most of the day on Sundays, taking that one day off a week to get away from the barn and its activity. I had not had a day out at the barn for awhile, at least not one with beautiful weather and lots of riders.  I had been sequestered in the house, afraid to take a chance on uneven ground, gravel driveways or misbehaving horses while recovering on crutches.

This last Sunday the weather was perfect!  It was sunny, clear and near 70 degrees by the afternoon.  All of the boarders thought it would be a pretty great day to ride.  Jordyn had stayed over night both Friday and Saturday.  She was on a marathon horseback ride, switching off between new pony Piper and tried and true Mickey.

It was wonderful to have all the activity.  I knew one of our boarders had a nice pony to sell that was cute and talented.  I expected some visitors to stop by and try out the pony on this nice afternoon.

The group approach to jump setting. One works and two watch.

The group approach to jump setting. One works and two make suggestions.

As it often is in the horse world, we tend to do things with a group or at least our friends.  The previous night had been the year-end awards banquet for the Greater Houston Hunter Jumper Association.  The pony had been discussed with one of the other trainers and they were headed out my way for a trial ride.

Horse buying is tricky.  It is a wing and a prayer sort of thing.  Sometimes you make brilliant decisions and sometimes you end up with real disasters.  In retrospect someone can always point out what you missed but at the time, you just hope for the best.

By the time the gang arrived from north Houston to view the sale pony, things were hopping around the barn.  We had a Porsche, a Prius , sturdy trucks and SUVs lined up and parked.  A group of girls arrived with the friend of the pony seller to demonstrate the pony and just watch the proceedings.

The arena was being dragged again by one of the dads with his 4×4 truck as our broken tractor sat idly in the sun.  Jordyn, Libby and Isabel were still in the arena riding as the truck worked over circle after circle of the soft sand pulling the drag behind.  Jordyn was thrilled to be playing “who can trot the fastest” with the other much older riders.  The big truck and dragger did nothing to deter their forward motion or their enthusiasm.

I immediately recognized the potential pony buyers as they got out of their truck.  No, I did not know their names, but knew their faces and their horses.  It was fun to talk with them about their barn building projects which had started last April like ours.  It wasn’t long before Michelle looked at me intently and said “I read your blog!”  That is always a WOW moment for me, because I write pretty much for myself and it is sometimes embarrassing to think of all the things I have said.

We dragged her off to meet baby Betty Sue and see pony, Piper.  She was telling us about a great horse they had for sale.  It is that information sharing that usually lands a horse with the right new owner.

As we walked to the arena to watch the sale pony, Flash, work, I told them to go on ahead that I was a little slow.  Michelle immediately said she had read about my hip replacement.  GEEZ.  It was cool but little eerie.

Getting set to try the Flash pony.

Getting set to try the Flash pony.

Off Bella went amid guns and engines roaring.

Off Bella went amid guns and engines roaring.


The pony did well as we all watched.  One of my charming neighbors decided that this lovely Sunday afternoon should be filled with guns and proceeded to fire off like a thousand shots,  seriously, one after another, disrupting the quiet afternoon.  But the pony didn’t seem to care, he went along quietly and easily.  Then my other neighbor started working on his car engine.  I thought we were in an episode of Street Outlaws (where they drag race illegally).  It was not what I wanted when trying to show off a sale horse at my facility.  On the other hand, Flash reacted not at all to all the disturbances so I guess that was okay.

Trainer Elizabeth keeping a sharp eye on her student.

Trainer Elizabeth keeping a sharp eye on her student.


In the end, it was decided that this was not the correct match for the girl who was looking.  It was a little sad as I thought it had gone swimmingly well given all the activity.  But that is how the horse (pony) business goes.  They did say they liked the bay horse with the star.  I was dumbfounded for a moment, thinking we don’t have a bay horse with a star, when I was told my Piper pony was a bay horse with a star.  DUH.  Well, she is not going anywhere soon.




Very nice trot!

Very nice trot!

Flash will be gone quickly as he is too cute and too good to not be picked up fast.  Any pony buyers out there?

Pony can jump, too.

Pony can jump, too.

Anyway, it was a great day and lots of fun for us all.  Still, I was glad as I saw Lauren head down the drive returning from her weekend off.  I think I was asleep by 7 pm.

The best thing I heard from one of my riders this weekend was after they watched me walk down the driveway.  Jo Ann told me that I was looking and walking pretty well.  She could still tell I wasn’t completely sound-but almost!  Wow, I think a lot of people would agree I have never been completely sound and they would not just be referring to my obvious limp.

Thanks for riding with us at Six Meadow Farm!