Fear of Flying

Six year-old Jordyn flew from the back of Feather at a gallop in the first part of August. (See post https://exechorseluver.com/?s=feather+bolts ). Thankfully, she survived the hard fall with some road rash, bumps and bruises, at least physically, but mentally the already timid rider retreated further into her walk-only safety zone.

Having Jo fly off Feather, while I held the lunge rope and looked helplessly on, was one of the worst experiences I can remember. Honestly, I was no more willing to have that experience again than she!

We brought Snowboy home and from her first night when they were reunited, her family has pushed her to trot. I have been noticeably quiet on the subject. It seemed that the more we pushed her to trot, the more reluctant she became. Snowboy is pretty reliable but he is not being ridden much, actually just the few rides Jordyn gives him and an occasional outing with me. I am not exceptionally sure that all would go well if they did trot. He wants to head back to the gate (and towards the barn-what pony doesn’t?). Jordyn has to work to keep him at the far end of the arena. And due to travel and illness on my part, Jordyn has not gotten down to ride as much as I would like either.

Monday is the regular day to ride. We had a lot of rain over the weekend so I did not know if they would be able to ride or not. I had a late meeting so arrived at the house to find Ally and her girls already here.

I do not believe that Snow had been ridden in over two weeks. I do believe he has already gained weight in the work-less, eat-more environment of Granny’s farm. I could barely get the girth around to the first hole. I guess we will have to schedule some more exercise for him.

Jordyn focused on her riding and Kendyll focused on her walking!

Jordyn focused on her riding and Kendyll focused on her walking!

The weather is turning toward fall and temperatures were just in the upper 80’s last night as we got out to the arena. Kendyll walking sturdily now, thinks it is just a giant playpen for her amusement. Ally stands by horrified as the little one puts sand, dirt, rocks and other disgusting things in her mouth. Ally and Lauren pretty much grew up at the ballpark, at least there are not cigarette butts to find in my arena. Ally was not really consoled over that observation as Kendyll put Kona’s sand covered tennis ball in her mouth.

I had set up poles for Jordyn and Snow to practice going over and turning around. Jordyn was handling Snow better and he had not gotten away with any of his usual pony exploits. However, this could be the harsher bit (a Kimberwick) Lauren installed on his bridle as much as increased riding brilliance from Jordyn, hard to tell, but it was going better.

About 30 minutes into the ride, Jordyn asked me if I would come hold onto to Snowney’s bridle so she could trot. I was quite surprised although just matter-of-factly said okay and walked up to take hold of his reins. I asked her not to say anything to her mom or Lauren until we got going. And with no preamble, off we went. Granny jogging along as Snow started to trot. She asked excitedly, “Can I tell my mom?”. And she did, with both Ally and Lauren riveted between being excited to see Jordyn finally trotting and wanting to laugh at me as I jogged my way through the deep sand trying to keep pace with the white pony.

“You are even posting!” Aunt Lauren exclaimed as we continued around the arena. And she was. The little girl who had been thrown so hard into ground from the back of a horse just a short time ago was confidently posting down the diagonal line. Granny was still holding on, but just barely. Jordyn was steering, posting and controlling her pony.

Personally, I feel it was important to let Jordyn decide when she was ready to try again to trot (and then to do everything in my power to make it a safe, positive experience). I hope she can get down to spend the night and just get out in the arena to “play” on Snow. That is how confidence is gained.

Kendyll wanted her time on the horse’s as well and next time I will be sure to bring the helmet out for her.

Baby Kendyll riding with aunt Lauren.

Baby Kendyll riding with aunt Lauren.

ken rides

I am proud of Jordyn! I have a framed quote from John Wayne (if you don’t know who that is ask a parent). It says: Courage is being scared to death but saddling up and riding any way.

Thank you for riding along and keep us in your prayers.

UnLabor Day Weekend

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Pixie just off the trailer at her new trainers

My goal was to have a nice quiet weekend, in essence , to have an unLabor day. But at the farm chores do not follow the calendar. Every day, horses need to fed, cleaned, sprayed for flies, feet checked and a million other things. First, we had to get Pixie, the German Riding pony, ready to go to Sarah’s for a month of training.

We met years ago, when she was a teen and I was new to Houston. Ally’s top appendix horse, Savannah (by multiple time World Champ-Rugged Lark) had moved here from Florida with us. Her stay did not last long. I was newly divorced and really not making ends meet. A very hard decision sent the mare back to Florida. Sarah and her mom, Sharelle ran a horse rescue in Alvin. If I was going to without my horses at least I could help them at the rescue. I worked in the Galleria and drove down to Alvin a couple nights a week. Sarah was a little older at the time than my 13 year old
daughter, Ally. I would watch Sharelle manage the 501.3 C business, always on the phone, hustling for feed, a place to put a newly donated horse and organize all the donators with correct adoptees.

I watched Sarah grow up during these years. She was home schooled to have more time for riding and training. I am sure my girls and many others coveted her life. Not having to go to school and riding endless horses every day. But the reality was much harsher. Sarah and her mom, got horses in each day, some nice ones that people turned in for the tax deduction. But often the horses brought in were sick, starving, some close to death. Sarah worked harder in those years than most kids ever work

Sarah rode barrels. She rode for the prize money. It was her spending money. She ran my horse, Kid, until he was 20 years old. She won the Gulf Coast Barrel Racing Association end of year prize. Then she retired him to me. Sarah has an incredible work ethic. She is successful because she steadfastly, calmly and concisely works each horse to get results.

Every horse in our barn except Bruno has been to Sarah. She always gets them back (or there for the first time) to a great work ethic. Mimi went to Sarah’s and came back a finished pony. We hope for the same results from Pixie. Sarah gets results.

After we dropped off the pony, we hurried to meet Ally and her extended family for Jordyn’s birthday lunch. Lauren left after we got home to go out of town for the rest of the weekend. I have my outside chores and am also trying to clean things up inside the house. I am pretty sure I could work all day, every day and never finish.

Mama Kitty, who we have never been able to catch will go the vet to be neutered. I think she has had at least 60 kittens. I hope I can get her there. Poor mama kitty- enough is enough. Her current litter is six kittens, all different colors and kinds. They were hiding in my car and started popping out as I backed up the car. I am going to park away from the house until we get this figured out. Hope I catch mama on Tuesday. No more babies!

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Mama Kitty guarding the entrance to old garage

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one of the darling babies poking her little head out

Story of Snowbaby Go!-Horse Rescue

Originally Posted on August 13, 2012 by

Snowboy at the rescue-the first time-you can still see his black spots through his white coat.

Snowboy will come home to six Meadow Farm on Sunday. Jordyn will see him as a total surprise on Wednesday. He is her sixth birthday surprise present. I thought it was appropriate to reach into the archives to re-tell the story of Snow and how he came to belong to Lauren and myself (although I know many of you have fond memories of him as well).

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Today’s story is the story of Snowney the White Pony, AKA Snowbaby Go, AKA Snowboy. Some of you out there know that there was a time when he was called Oreo-Double Stuff in his youth for reasons obvious above. He was the pony of a girl at Sienna Stables. My father, quite a horseman in his own right, would never have bought a pony for my sister and I. Too mean, he’d had said. And Snow (Oreo) was no different. In his early days he went out of his way to dump, stop, buck or just lie down in an effort to dislodge his rider and quit working.

His first young rider loved him but her mother was wise enough to know that there were better horses for her daughter to ride. Ones that would not be so determined to send her daughter to the ground. And so this adorable white pony went to the horse rescue. I got a call about him and knew he would work somewhere, for someone in the Whipple Tree Farm stable. I remember Dianne telling Snowboy that first night that life was going to be a little less fun and not as glamorous at this new barn. He was going to be expected to work for a living. And his shenanigans would have to stop.

First, why Snowboy as a name? As a child, my father made sure I learned about great horses and great horseman. I loved the book-Snowman-the Cinderella Horse. He was a rescued plow horse that took on the biggest jumping shows in the world and won. He was owned by Harry DeLeyer(yes, the same DeLeyer family from here in Houston) and was further immortalized in a recent book called “The Eighty Dollar Champion”. http://www.amazon.com/The-Eighty-Dollar-Champion-Inspired-ebook/dp/B004J4WKY2

So, I had loved Snowman but this was a white PONY-so obviously, this pony had to be Snowboy, not Snowman. Made perfect sense to me. Later we came up with the name “Snowbaby Go” as a show name, one which was unique and yet classic. I don’t think we actually got to name any of the other horses we had, we just went along with whatever they were called but Snowboy got a barn name, a show name (Snowbaby Go) and later a love name from my granddaughter, Snowney the White Pony.

Snowboy was originally used as a lesson horse at Whipple Tree and in the course of a few months, most of the teenaged riders there, Caitlyn, Lauren, Rachel, Cara, Stefani and Desi (to name a few) had fallen off of him. He wasn’t necessarily mean, just crafty. If you weren’t paying attention, he would catch you unaware and off you would go. (Which, by the way, totally reinforced my dad’s original opinion.)

Not too long after we got Snow, I got a call from the rescue that a beautiful, big, bay quarter horse had come in. He was a seasoned show veteran and quite a solid hunter. I asked if I could trade Snow for the new horse Mac (I had actually paid more for Snow than they were asking for Mac-because of Mac’s older age). A deal was struck and back to the rescue Snow went. I will note that as much I as I was loved for bringing Mac to Desi (his new half owner) I was hated by the girls that had come to love Snow including my own daughter Lauren. There were a lot of tears when Snow left. I would have never done so if I would have known what would happen to Snow in his next home but then Desi, Elizabeth, Mary Lou and others would have never known the wonderful horse that Mac is either. So… you make the best decision you can.

Jordyn at two-years of age riding her “Snowney” with cat along for the ride

It was not easy to place Snow the second time around. I was the big “English” client and Snow was a jumping pony. Most of the rescue’s clients were western people and this pony did not match their interest. Finally, a woman adopted Snow and he went to live with several other horses. It wasn’t Sienna Stables or Whipple Tree Farm but it should have been okay.

It was not. Sarah, our rescue friend and recent trainer of Feather and Mimi, saw Snow emaciated (which was quite a change from his Oreo-Double Stuff persona) standing in a pasture of dried up weeds. There were dead horses in this pasture and obviously it had been a long time since food and water had been on the menu here. I got a call asking if I would take the pony back. I quickly agreed and Snow came back to Whipple Tree Farm. Before Snow could settle in for a good meal, get his feet fixed or be rested, the Brazoria County Sheriff called with claims that I had stolen the pony. Once he heard the story, he sided with us, but the legal owner of Snow was charging Grand Theft Pony and I had to give him back. The sheriff came to get Snow in an open top trailer. If I thought I had been hated for the first time I let Snow go- it was nothing compared to this time when he rode away in the horrible trailer to go to the ASPCA. Snow would stay at the humane society until the court case was decided. I got a call a few weeks later that his previous owner had been convicted of multiple counts of animal cruelty for allowing some of the horses to die and others (like Snow) to be starved. I was told that Snow would be up for adoption. Snow’s story was actually dramatized on Animal Planet in their show, “Animal Cops”.

This time except for telling a few friends, Kathy, Dianne and Rebecca, no one knew Snow might be coming home, not even Lauren. Rebecca agreed to go pick up Snow in her trailer. Kathy helped with the adoption fees and off we went to get Snow. Lauren was left in the Saturday morning lesson with Dianne. No one had any idea that I was off to pick up Snowboy-I couldn’t face them if anything had gone wrong and I could not bring him home.

As we pulled into the barn, Snow was not visible over the high sides of the trailer. Dianne asked the riders, “Oh my goodness, is that Snowboy?” Stefani, always polite and now a student at Texas A&M, replied “you better freaking not say that-you know he is gone forever!” but Dianne persisted, “Yes, I think it is Snowboy!” Stefani was jumping a course at the time and literally leaped off mid-canter to run to the trailer. Lauren and the other girls were right behind her. Rebecca and I pulled the trailer up and Snow was greeted by crying, screaming girls. I vowed that day that Snow would never go away again. No matter what, he was mine for life.

The next day, probably three hundred pounds lighter than he is today with torn up feet Snow went reserve champion for a girl in the Beginner Division. He won ribbons for Lauren that day as well.

Lauren and Snow at rated show-look at those knees!

Since then Snow has gained weight (he is the best scavenger around-no doubt due to his days of starvation), he has won year-end awards for Lauren in Pony classes many times over, and he has turned in respectable rounds at a rated show in the pony division. He has moved with us to Wharton and he has become my first granddaughter’s first love. As Jordyn was able to get down to ride less and less he went to trainer Dev as a school pony and has guided many over their first fences.

Isabel guiding Snow to another win

It seems that for now, Snow is safe, well fed and happy. One day soon, Jordyn will be ready to show her pony all by herself and he will return to our farm.

But one thing is certain, Snow will always have a place to call home and never be hungry again.

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I know having one more horse will just mean more work and more expense but I am grateful for Dev having taken care of him these last years and just as grateful that I can present him to Jordyn on Wednesday. I suspect seeing her excitement and happiness may make it one of the best days of my life. In the end isn’t that what life is about, to bring joy and happiness to those we love?

I will be sure to have the video camera going!

Feather Bolts!

Mickey does not appreciate Jordyn!

Mickey does not appreciate Jordyn!

We have tried to get by, furthering Jordyn’s riding experience using the horses we have here.  It has been okay.  There have been times like above, where she has pulled too much in their mouths.  There have been times when the horses have been either too stubborn or too fast.  But we got by okay, until Jo went off to horse camp at Miss Dianne’s.  Then she learned to trot.

Jordyn has her own pony or I guess you could say, we have a pony, Snowboy, that we have had for years but Lauren can no longer show (and has moved past anyway in skill level) that we have lent to Dev to use for his beginner students.  Always with the caveat that he would come home when Jordyn was committed and ready to ride.  Honestly, she probably has been for some time, but I have dragged my feet.  We have five horses at our house now.  Five to feed, exercise, shoe, vet-well, you get the idea.  I did not need one more mouth to feed, etc.

Jordyn came down Thursday night to ride.  Lauren was riding Bruno.  I had Pixie saddled up.  We saddled Feather for Jordyn. Mickey was big time lame so there was no riding him.

No where in any horse planning book would it suggest to use such a young horse for such an inexperienced rider.  Jordyn got on.  She immediately had Feather walking around the arena and even successfully over the trot poles (which takes a lot steering and planning).  Still I was reluctant to let them go on while I got on Pixie.  I kept stalling.  I was worried big Bruno would get moving pretty fast and stir up Feather.  I wanted to be close by if anything happened.

Jordyn wanted to trot.  It is all she wants to do.  I was afraid.  I should go with my gut feelings.  I suggested putting her on the lunge line like we had Mickey.  I kind of forgot that Feather was not a great lunger-Mickey has years of experience-Feather is terrified of whips and things moving behind her.  STUPID!!!

Feather also has a trot that is not the simple western jog of Mickey but a big, flowing trot of a larger horse.  Things went okay for about one minute.  I held the lunge line and moved Feather forward from behind.  Jordyn was squealing ‘trot, trot!” and Feather obeyed.  But immediately Jordyn started bouncing in the saddle (not the smooth trot she was expecting) and Feather flat a** panicked!  I think Feather thought Jordyn had become a leopard which had pounced on her back.  I was still holding the lunge line and watched terrified as Feather bolted into a gallop.  In huge strides, she ran in the sand around as I stood helplessly.

I will give Jo credit as she hung on for at least five or six laps around our little lunge circle.  I finally got my wits about me and shortened the line to pull Feather to a stop.  When I did, Jordyn went flying off the tiny English saddle and landed screaming on her side.

As a mother or grandmother, there are few worse moments than when you see the young one bounce from the saddle.  The praying starts in earnest!  PLEASE let her be okay!  It was five of the worst minutes of my life as Jordyn lay in the sand.  Feather came tentatively over as if to say she was sorry-she just freaked out.

Jordyn, thankfully, is fine.  She has road rash from the sand on her face, chest and shoulders.  She has a sore back.  She has an impressive bruise on her leg.  But she was tough and determined and okay!

I do not have a horse that is safe for Jordyn to go to the next level beyond a walk with.  Regardless, of the extra work, it is time.  Time for Snowney, the white pony, to come home to Six Meadow Farm.  Jordyn’s birthday is September 4th.  He will be her birthday surprise.

They say God protects small children and fools.  I am grateful on both counts.